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Reminds followers of ‘negro dialect’ remark . . .

By Larry Leonard

May 25, 2024 — In truth, I didn’t read the article referred to above.  It was the wording of the headline that caught my eye.  There’s learning for most of you in that line.  A linguist, or academic expert on language, once said that if you split a tribe in half and send one of them to the other side of the nearest mountain, within three generations, they both will not know what the other half is saying.

So, languages constantly change, just like the long-term world climate.  They are living things.Thus, a ‘negro dialect’ from early in the last century would be hard to understand if presented to, say, urban northern blacks, today.  No language is fixed in place until recorded as a classic, in literature.Shakespeare copy  Read Shakespeare some time.  Only scholars know what half the terms mean.  What do you think a “bare bodkin” is, for example?  (The answer is in the play, Hamlet.)

And also thus, does a thing like the headline above become meaningless without some additional information.  Which ‘negro dialect’ and when, to name two needs.  White Southerners have their Bubba dialect.  A Brooklyn dialect is famous. New Englanders in the movie Jaws “pak their cah in the yahd.”

The perfect American accent was owned by the late entertainer, Johnny Carson.  He was from Nebraska.

Everybody in Canada says “eh?” unless they live in Quebec.   Peter Sellers as Inspector Clouseau, butchered the French Language delightfully.  Italians are very wordy.  Russians are heavy tongued. The Chinese use lots of “ings.”  My friend, Wayne, of Oregon, says “Warshington” for the state of “Washington.”

I, of course, don’t have an accent, just like you.


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