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Talking Black in America: The role of the documentary in public education

  • Walt Wolfram and Kellynoel Waldorf
Extract

African American Language (AAL) is the most widely recognized – and controversial – ethnic variety of English in the world. In the United States national controversies about the speech of African Americans have erupted periodically for more than a half-century now, from the difference-deficit debates in the 1960s (Labov, 1972) to the Ebonics controversy in the 1990s (Rickford, 1999) and linguistic profiling in the 2000s (Baugh, 2003, 2018). Further, the adoption of performance genres from AAL into languages other than English, such as hip-hop and rap, has given the speech of African Americans even wider international recognition and global status (Omoniyi, 2006). The curiosities and controversies about African American speech symbolically reveal (1) the depth of people's beliefs and opinions about language differences; (2) the widespread level of public misinformation about language diversity; and (3) the need for informed knowledge about language variation in public life and in education.

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References
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English Today
  • ISSN: 0266-0784
  • EISSN: 1474-0567
  • URL: /core/journals/english-today
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