The Formation of Black English and Its Influences on American Culture

Topics: African American, African American Vernacular English, Black people Pages: 11 (4020 words) Published: September 3, 2013
African American Vernacular English (AAVE) is one special dialect of American English, and it is different from Standard American English. African American Vernacular English can also be called as Black English, Black Vernacular English or African American Language (AAL).Black English had been discriminated for a long time in history. There was a saying that “Black English is not a language”. The saying is not correct. According to Montgomery, culture should not be biased, but should be including all that are produced and shared by the society( Montgomery 7). Even though Black English is different from Standard English, Black English has its unique linguistic system. It has its own system in phonetics, lexicology and grammar. Black English is the most widely spread minority group language variant in American English. With the improvement of Black American cultural and social position, Black English affects American culture in a lot of aspects. Actually, Black English comes from Black Americans but now greatly influences the whole American society. In view of this, the paper starts to explore the formation, characteristics and cultural influence. The study method of this paper is not only from the linguistic view on Black English, but also from its formation, characteristics and influence. 2. Formation of Black English

The language spoken by Black American had different names in different periods. The English spoken by Black American was named as Negro Pidgin, Negro Creole, Negro Dialect, Negro English, Non-Standard Negro English, Black English Vernacular, Afro-American English and Black English. Actually, changes of the names went with the social statue changes of Black Americans. 2.1 Black Pidgin

The first group of African slaves arrived at American in 1619. The black slaves mainly came from western Africa, Congo and Angola. They were caught by western slave dealer and shipped to North America. When the black slaves arrived at America, most of them have to do hard work in plantations and mine fields. They came from different African countries and different ethnic groups, so the slaves usually could not understand each other. The slave owners also could not understand their slaves. In order to talk with their owners and other slaves, black slaves had to learn some simple English. Because they could not receive professional education, their English was quite simple and direct. Africans in Africa are all good at dancing and singing, so the black slaves’ English were greatly influenced by the African rhythm. A lot of African words also mixed with the special English. According to Deng’s study, there are still about 6000 western African words found in modern Black English (邓炎昌 99). This type of language was called “pidgin”. Pidgin is a new language which develops in situations where speakers of different languages need to communicate but don’t share a common language (Montgomery 68). Most words of the “pidgin” came from English and the grammar was quite simple. 2.2 Black Creole

During the long slave time before black slave liberation, new born generations of black slaves had no other languages to study. They can only study the “pidgin” language as their first langue. On and on, the Negro Pidgin changed into Negro Creole. Creole is the mixture of African language and Standard English. As R. L. Trask stated, the communication between two different languages would result in a Creole (Trask 319). Some linguists assume that modern Black English came from Creole. Every special ethnic group always sticks to its traditional occupation. The African slaves and their offspring always do low-level jobs in American society. Black Americans were discriminated by main stream American for a long time. Black American mainly lives in southern part of America, because most of the first generation black slave worked in southern plantations. Generation after generation, the difference between Black English and Standard...
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