Talking Back, Talking Black: Truths About America's Lingua Franca

Talking Back Talking Black Truths About America s Lingua Franca Superb Steven Pinker In Talking Back Talking Black John McWhorter the maestro at communicating linguistics to the public succeeds in helping the reader to actually hear Black English in a new way

  • Title: Talking Back, Talking Black: Truths About America's Lingua Franca
  • Author: John McWhorter
  • ISBN: 9781942658207
  • Page: 324
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Superb Steven Pinker In Talking Back, Talking Black, John McWhorter, the maestro at communicating linguistics to the public, succeeds in helping the reader to actually hear Black English in a new way, while hipping linguists to some features of this vibrant variety they might not have considered before John R Rickford, former president of the Linguistic Society o Superb Steven Pinker In Talking Back, Talking Black, John McWhorter, the maestro at communicating linguistics to the public, succeeds in helping the reader to actually hear Black English in a new way, while hipping linguists to some features of this vibrant variety they might not have considered before John R Rickford, former president of the Linguistic Society of America and coauthor of Spoken Soul The Story of Black English McWhorter debunks some of our most persistent myths about language NPR McWhorter makes all the right arguments, and he makes them clearly New Yorker Do you think Black English is a dialect full of mistakes You re likely to change your mind about its languageness after reading Mr McWhorter Wall Street JournalIt has now been almost fifty years since linguistic experts began studying Black English as a legitimate speech variety, arguing to the public that it is different from Standard English, not a degradation of it Yet false assumptions and controversies still swirl around what it means to speak and sound black In his first book devoted solely to the form, structure, and development of Black English, John McWhorter clearly explains its fundamentals and rich history, while carefully examining the cultural, educational, and political issues that have undermined recognition of this transformative, empowering dialect Talking Back, Talking Black takes us on a fascinating tour of a nuanced and complex language that has moved beyond America s borders to become a dynamic force for today s youth culture around the world.John McWhorter teaches linguistics, Western civilization, music history, and American studies at Columbia University A New York Times best selling author and TED speaker, he is a columnist for Time and regular contributor to the Atlantic, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post His books on language include The Power of Babel, Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue, What Language Is, The Language Hoax, and Words on the Move.

    One thought on “Talking Back, Talking Black: Truths About America's Lingua Franca”

    1. My notes and quotes are here:dropbox/s/5wdpsz45in2I first fell in love with John McWhorter through his Great Courses series. I listened to the audio as I weeded gardens, etc. It blew me away that there are 6000+ languages on Earth and that a relatively small percentage of them have a written form.From reading this I found that Americans look at Black English in a strange way: rather than seeing it as the complicated dialect of English with its own grammar and accent and its speakers diglossic, p [...]

    2. In this fascinating book, linguist John McWhorter presents a compelling argument - that the spoken language of the majority of black Americans is not a broken or error-filled English, but is a separate dialect from what he terms Standard English. Linguistic scholars currently refer to this dialect as African-American Vernacular English, which is quite a mouthful and sounds very academic, so the author refers to it as Black English. TALKING BACK TALKING BLACK, in an introduction and five chapters [...]

    3. McWhorter spends about 85% of his words on complaining and arguing about the way Black English has been treated by the popular news and entertainment media. If instead he had spent 85% of his words talking about the grammar and vocabulary of Black English, you might be reading a 4-star review.McWhorter is one of those writers who subscribe to the idea that before you tell the reader what the reader showed up to read, you should first spell out for the reader what you are planning to tell the rea [...]

    4. A near perfect collection of linguistics essays about Black English Vernacular. Whether he's talking about the origins of English or the use of texted "lol" as an empathy marker, John McWhorter is always insightful, thoughtful, and accessible. He's also one of a very small number of linguists who can make you laugh out loud in a coffee shop. (Or, at least, he has that effect on me.) His essays showcase the history, depth, and complexity of a vibrant American dialect--one that often gets dismisse [...]

    5. Short book about Black English, its complex rules, its history, how it varies from standard English, and why it's just as "good" as standard English. Nearly all speakers of Black English know it isn't best for formal situations and are perfectly capable of switching to Standard English when required. Also an interesting section about why the vocal timbre of white Americans tends to be different than African Americans, such that most of us can easily identify "race" over the phone even if there i [...]

    6. I had modest expectations for this book and I was not disappointed. It is a hodgepodge of evidence and arguments, most of which are interesting but not convincing. I had the impression McWhorter, who is a renowned pop linguist, had been on the defensive about "ebonics" since his brief flirtation with fame in Oakland in 1997. I presume since then the book as been festering as he wrote pieces of it and put them in the drawer while he worked on serious studies and he couldn't hold it in any longer. [...]

    7. Linguistics for the people!I really enjoyed this book, and I hate linguistics. it opened my eyes to a way of speech and communication that I did find odd. McWhorter does a great job explaining language and dialects via a case study on Black English.

    8. Is Ebonics a language? It was popularized as a distinct language spoken by some American African-Americans in the 1980’s and 90’s, yet another note in the culture war symphony. It’s interesting, and ironically humorous that linguist John McWhorter refers to a ‘Lingua Franca’ in the title of his book, not a ‘language.’ ‘Lingua Franca’ means literally, ‘French Language’ and connotes any universally understood tongue – as French virtually was in Europe in the years around Wo [...]

    9. McWhorter truly believes the battle in Black English being accepted as an addition, instead of a distortion of Standard English, seems to be in Americans' inability to understand that change in language is inevitable. Different does not mean deficient. Americans tend to not understand the concept of formal and informal speech being able to coexist as one, as in most other languages through out the world. In America "dialects are less diverse from one another than before." "Americans don't know t [...]

    10. Really more like 3.5 starts.It’s well-written, but really short. And despite being so short, it feels slightly padded. Maybe it’s best to think of it as a series of essays more than a book. His main point is that “Black English” (or African American Vernacular English or Ebonics or whatever) is a genuine language, with grammar rules and such. It is not just a lazy or slangy version of “standard English.” He makes an interesting and good analogy with Arabic, where there is a standard [...]

    11. "English hasn't existed lone enough to diverge into dozens of starkly regional dialects as it has in Great Britain. Black English is America's only English dialect that combines being strikingly unlike Standard English, centuries old, embraced by an ever wider spectrum of people, and represented in an ever-growing written literature. It is worthy of celebration, study, and certainly acceptance. America will never truly grow up linguistically until this is widely understood.""I want you to be tru [...]

    12. This is a pretty interesting take on the normalization of black English. Puts forth a good case that "ebonics" is itself a dialect with its own grammar (separate from slang). McWhorter comes across as a pretty cool cucumber in all of this, especially in light of the hysterics that came about after that whole Oakland teaching in ebonics kerfuffle in the 90s. Furthermore he legitimizes it in light of how our modern English came to be after peoples like the vikings popularized a simplified version [...]

    13. "In his first book devoted solely to the form, structure, and development of Black English, John McWhorter clearly explains its fundamentals and rich history, while carefully examining the cultural, educational, and political issues that have undermined recognition of this transformative, empowering dialect."Please keep the quote above in mind before reading this book. While I would have liked for the book to go more in detail on ebonics/AAVE, it technically did what it set out to do. This books [...]

    14. I love words, more than chocolate. In college, I took linguistics classes, and language and culture classes. I loved them, and they gave me an inkling of exactly how detailed and nuanced the study of language actually is. And, I'm a notorious pain in the ass about grammar, spelling and the correct use of English. This book is great. I think that McWhorter provides a thorough, clear explanation of the roots of Black English, and it's role in American culture. I'm not going to attempt to describe [...]

    15. John McWhorter makes several good points about the existence and validity of Black English and a second dialect of English. He touches on racial influence, historical influence, and the beginnings of differences between the way black people talk amongst each other and in formal company and how they evolved into the way we notice the differences between black speech and white speech today. I think he made a truly excellent case for the approval of Black English as another language not a broken on [...]

    16. I like John McWhorter when he doesn't go too far into the weeds. His premise is sound, and the beginning and end of the book make strong, compelling proofs of Black English as a second language. Where he loses me somewhat is in the technical aspects of pronunciation with phonetic symbols that are used in academia and dictionaries without examples that are easy to follow. That said, this book is a great explanation of something we all feel but don't know how to define, and I really enjoyed it.

    17. An informative read on the history of Black English and its place in America. McWhorter makes some interesting arguments and draws upon the development of different languages to illuminate Black English’s trajectory. He tries to stay out of arguments centered on racism, but his answers to common public statements like “But you can’t talk like that in a job interview” does not interrogate the racism embedded in such thought but instead chooses to placate white fear that Black English does [...]

    18. Let's give Black English the recognition it deserves, as a distinct dialect spoken by normal people, and worthy of our celebration.I didn't think a book about language could be so stirring and arresting. McWhorter completely reframes the way you think about Black English. It is systematic, has its own conventions, and is not a version of Standard English full of errors.

    19. Nice subject and approach, but tedious at times for anyone with a basic understanding of linguistics. Much of the book is spent arguing that Black American English is a legitimate dialect and not just lesser English. There are a few gems of specific insights sprinkled here and there. The book suffers from it's defensive stance.

    20. Fascinating. On a scale of dryly academic to wildly political, I'd rate this probably politically academic. McWhorter takes and a linguist's view this highly politicized topic and makes an academic argument for the validity of Black English as its own language form.

    21. Yay for smart books.As a non native English speaker I had only few issues concerning the pronunciation - by merely reading I cannot imagine all sounds that written text is trying to convey.Definitely educates on a topic in which I previously had no insight.

    22. John McWhorter used to be my favorite guy for laymen"s linguistics books but the last few things of his have been bluh. Feels condescending. Still, it was interesting and he made some good points when he wasn't being Captain Obvious.

    23. Such good fun, and even more important: such good responses to the ways society frequently reacts to and interacts with Black English. Not only is McWhorter knowledgeable and sharp, he is also laugh out loud funny. Recommend a hundred times over!

    24. Convincing argument that black English is not "broken", but a dialect of English like the innumerable dialects spoken by diglossic speakers all over the world.

    25. I first heard about this book on the Lexicon Valley podcast. It was an insightful, quick read. I now hear and think about Black English in a different way. I wish the topics he addressed were universally taught in high school classrooms, as it would be a boon to all Americans to think about Black English from a linguistics perspective.

    26. I actually give this book 2.5 stars. It seeks to make the case for what is called Black English while at the same time giving history, context, examples and excuses. I was a bit disappointed, but nevertheless, it is one man's story, a linguist, who has done his research just not clearly enough research. Every time the author says that a certain issue needed more research, I cringed, because he should have done the research and given us more. What research that was done was noteworthy. I did lear [...]

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