|Originally posted by Lilith |
Hey you, is ebonics a version of pidgin english or is it just stuff americans do because they're cretins?
|Originally posted by SYSTEM-J |
If, as the COR's second most qualified linguist, I may be forgiven for mansplaining... In linguistic terms, a "pidgin" is a simplified language developed by two groups who regularly interact but don't share a common tongue. Historically, this generally meant trade situations. When a pidgin language is learned from birth as a first tongue it becomes a "creole" language.
Technically speaking, ebonics is more of a dialect than either of these things, as it's just a variant of standard American English. However, I imagine a lot of the linguistic features of the dialect can be traced right back to times of slavery, so it's a dialect that arguably has its roots in a creole.
Pretty much what Sys said in the first paragraph, and what he said in the second paragraph is one of the traditional hypotheses regarding its origins. However, linguists who study ebonics (which I'll call African American Vernacular English, or AAVE) nowadays point out that it's most likely a hybrid of old English dialects from Great Britain (don't take my word for it here's an expert talking about it) - and it's great Jack joined the debate because he's a local
You see, there doesn't seem to be much influence from West African languages in AAVE grammar, except for the odd loanword. Also, the structures they use are not what you'd expect from a creole: There's some morphology (i.e. those bits you add to the end of words, like "work", "work-ing" and "work-ed") and that's really the first thing to go once a language undergoes a creolisation process (in Hawaiian English, instead of saying "I worked", you'd say "I wen work"). Also, the constructions are a bit too sophisticated for adult speakers to master (mind Jack's description of what a pidgin is). "I no know" and "I never know" for "I don't know" (notice they're very simple negations) are constructions you'd expect from a pidgin, whereas "I ain't know" is not only possible, but also shows this construction must've copme from someone who had a considerable grasp of English - "ain't" is hardly among the first words a learner will pick up.
What must've happened is that those who worked with the slaves came from regions and social strata different than those who were working in the industrial North, thus creating a divide. African Americans mastered one variety of English, Euro Americans learned yet another. Segregation was so intense that the two varieties coexist to this very day, even if the varieties that gave rise to AAVE may have died out in the British Isles.
To some extent, the same happened to the variety of Portuguese I speak. I can clearly talk to someone from Portugal in Portuguese, but there are quite a few grammatical constructions that exist in Europe but are a lot more common here (e.g. Europeans in general say "We are", whereas Brazilians are much more likely to say "The people is" with the very same meaning; Europeans say "I saw her", we say "I saw she", and so on).
I should also note I'm an expert on Asian languages/language types, not necessarily African American English, so I may have forgotten/distorted a few things
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