Date: Mon, 24 Nov 1997 10:59:28 -0500 From: Alan Baragona Subject: Re: vernacular Ellen Johnson wrote: > > The negative motivation was my shock at hearing Labov say on the radio > that only poor, inner-city blacks *really* speak AAVE, that anyone who > has learned to code-switch can never go back to speaking the > vernacular in a way that is grammatically consistent. I shouldn't > have been shocked; it is the logical extension of his idea that > people who have been exposed to more dialects will mix them. snip > > I guess my problem with this is twofold. 1) it shows that we are > still firmly entrenched in structuralism, looking for behavior that we > can write neat rules for and 2)it leads us to focus on speech that is > not really the common, everyday speech for most people in our society, > what I thought "vernacular" was supposed to mean. Or do I have too > much of a middle-class bias here? > It strikes me that there's a third problem--the notion that ghetto AAVE is not a mix in the first place but is some sort of pure Ur-Sprach, and that any kind of growth or change from outside influences is some sort of corruption. It's a poor argument when it's made about the language at large, so I don't see why it's any more acceptable when applied to a dialect or vernacular of a sub-culture.