sexta-feira, 10 de setembro de 2010



American English is a language of many dialects. A dialect is a regional variety of a language whose pronunciation, grammar or vocabulary differs from other varieties. Broadly speaking, American English consists of two basic dialect groups: Northern and Southern dialects. Within these two main groups, we can find many other subdialects or either an urban or a rural variety.
If we were to listen carefully, for example, to the way native Texans speak, we´d notice that, for the most part, their pronunciation tends to be similar. We´d probably also notice that a typical Texas dialect is characterized by a song-like intonation, absent in Nothern dialects, is characteristic of other Southern dialects as well.
A comparison between a typical Texas accent and one from new York City, would give us a good idea of two different dialects. Although a Texan and a new Yorker speak the same language and can understand each other with relative ease, their accents immediately make it clear they´re from different parts of the United States.
Whereas New York is the apotheosis of the bustling, fast-paced metropolis, Texas is a state with a rural image: a land of big ranches, cattle and oil wells. These contrasting realities are mirroredmin the regional expressions and slang of both the Texan and New York dialects.
Ethnic groups also have their own dialects. Let´s imagine we were traveling throughout the Southwestern states of New Mexico, Arizona and California. After listening to the English spoken by Mexican-Americans living in those places, we´d notice that many of them have a unique pronunciation and intonation. We´d also notice many of them do some type of code-switching between Spanish and English.
The Mexican-American dialect reflects the everyday reality of its speakers, many of whom are bilingual or have some proficiency in Spanish. In cities like Los Angeles (California), Phoenix (arizona) or Santa Fe (New Mexico), one finds large Hispanic neighborhoods (or "bairros", as they´re called even in English) and communities in wich both Spanish and English are used in all aspects of everyday life.
We must keep in mind that the dialect of English among Mexican-Americans is by no means uniform. The fact that a speaker belongs to a particular ethnic group does not mean that she\he necessarily speaks the dominant dialect group. Factors such as a speaker´s socioeconomic status, age or the place s\he was brought up all contribute to the variety of speech patterns found amog individuals from all social and ethnic groups.
However, in close-knit hispanic communities, we´d find that the dialect of English tends to be much more homogeneous. That´s because many of its speakers share similar backgrounds and face the same everyday realities of life in the barrio.
Let´s now consider the types of English spoken by America´s largest ethnic group, the Afro-Americans. The perceptive student can undoubtely recognize certain pronunciations and intonations as being typical of afro-American speakers. For example, that the same student would recognize the accents of famous singers like Ella Fitsgerald and Billie Holiday or actors like Bill Cosby or Eddie Murphy as unmistakably Afro-American.
There exists, however, much variety in the speech patteerns of afro-Americans. Although Afro-Americans have traditionally been identified with the South, which was the area where slavery was most heavily concentrated, today they inhabit all parts of the United States.
Although many Afro-Americans speak Standard English, many also speak only Black english. There are also other Afro-Americans who are able to code-switch from Standard English to Black English.
Linguists have traditionally described Black English as a deviation of English. Yet, that theory is unsatisfactory because it implies Black English is in some way inferior. Perhaps it would be more accurate to think of Black english as simply American English that has been (and is being) transformed and modified by its speakers to reflect their everyday reality and cultural identity.
For some people, Black English is by no means a uniform dialect. Different geegraphical areas have different varieties of Black english. You would undoubtedly find that out by traveling throughout the U.S. and listening to Afro-Americans. However , if a trip to the States weren´t possible, you could still hear varieties of Black english in films.
Rather than try and provide you an exhaustive inventory of either the typical grammatical constructions or vocabulary of Black english and to show how it is a unique phenomenon in American English.
As we mentioned earlier, Black English has a unique vocabulary. It also has a number of peculiar grammatical constructions, especially the way the verb TO BE is used.
For example, in Black English, the verb TO BE is often deleted :
a. We goin´(going) fisnhin´(fishing) tomorrow.
b. You in hot water, dude.
The use of IS for all persons, singular and plural, as in the sentence below, is also quite common in Black English:
I\you\she\he\it\we\they is hungry.
In Black English, it is common to susbstitute BE for all persons, singular and plural, in sentences in which that verb would normally be conjugated:
a. I\you\she\he\it\we\they be hungy.
b. We be leavin´(leaving) now.
c. They be buyin´(buying) the tickets.
And as you might have already deduced, WAenseS would substitute in all persons, singular and plural, the conjugated verb TO BE in the past tense:
a. Was they gonna (going to) buy the whiskey?
b.You was supposed to take out the gabarge.
c.We was watchin´(watching) TV when it happenned.
Colloquial speech tranformations are also quite characteristics of Blach english. For example, the chopping off of the final G of an -ing form as in the sentences above.

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