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Hi, Emotion: smile

I'm really the dumbest Emotion: stick out tongue, I posted here a grammar question by mistake, but I didn't manage to delete it. I don't know why, there was no "delete icon." Since I wasn't able to delete this post, I made it an "audio and pronounciation" question! And the first question that came to my mind was: "Do you guys understand Black English (that is Ebonics or AAVE)?" I can't understand a word when I listen to hip-hop songs or when I hear black guys talking. That's a strange accent, yet maybe if they spoke slowly I would be able to understand something.

So, do you understand Black English?

By the way, I already asked this question in a chat room once and it turned out that AAVE is generally difficult to understand, unless you have lived among people who speak it.

I'll wait for your replyes. Emotion: smile
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I don't understand all of Black English by any means, but I understand some of it.
The language of hip-hop is another thing. That includes a great deal of slang that I don't understand at all, superimposed on Black English. Both pronunciation and vocabulary create problems for understanding, as does speed of delivery.

Just as blacks who speak mostly Black English need to learn standard English almost as if it were a foreign language (and this is the idea behind the Ebonics teaching method*), whites also need to learn Black English as if it were a foreign language.

*I have observed class rooms in which speakers of Black English (children, in fact) were doing "translation exercises". Given a sentence in Black English, they practiced translating it into standard English. Boring as it may seem to us, they seemed to be quite enthusiastic about this task!

CJ
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Perhaps it should be called American Black English to be more accurate.

I'm not sure how widely it is spoken there either...don't assume that all black Americans speak in that way.
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Hi nona the brit,

You wrote:


Perhaps it should be called American Black English to be more accurate.

I'm not sure how widely it is spoken there either...don't assume that all black Americans speak in that way.

There is something called Black British English, too, as I'm sure you're aware of.

Black English is surprisingly common amongst black people in the United States. When I was in the US I was very surprised to note how widely spoken Black English actually is. I would have thought Black English would disappear in favour of General American English, but this is quite obviously not the case. Of course not all black Americans speak Black English, some even speak URP.

Regular Member717
don't assume that all black Americans speak in that way
No. Of course not. Not in the public workplace, for sure. Everybody is different. Some African Americans speak standard English at the work place and something closer to American Black English in private or among others who all understand it. Many speak only standard English; many speak Black English almost exclusively. Almost all understand standard English passively, although there are occasionally misunderstandings.

It is said that the origin of Black English is in the grammatical structures of African languages. The verbs to be and to do are handled a bit differently, and redundant subject pronouns are ubiquitous.

CJ
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Yes there are British versions too, but I don't think called Ebonics, and not quite treated/studied in the same serious way as in America. I'm not sure whether that is good or bad to be honest.

Still, a lot of people have different types of speech for different situations. I used to have a black boyfriend whose parents were Jamaican, and he would either speak 1) fairly standard working class London English (at work etc), 2) full-on Jamaican patois (this seems to be the basis of 'black British English') when he was with Jamaicans, and what I dubbed 3) 'urban black British' as his natural 'somewhere in-between the other two' language. I could understand all of 1) most of 3) and very little of 2).

I was also at school with a boy who spoke exactly like us at school, but I found it hilarious to visit his house and find out that his home life involved talking with a very strong northern accent to match his parents'.
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Hi nona the brit,

You wrote:


Yes there are British versions too, but I don't think called Ebonics, and not quite treated/studied in the same serious way as in America. I'm not sure whether that is good or bad to be honest.

Still, a lot of people have different types of speech for different situations.

'Ebonics' is used only about American Black 'English'. It's true that a lot of people vary their speech depending on the context: This is only natural, and I would actually claim that almost all people do this, more or less consciously.

CalifJim
don't assume that all black Americans speak in that way
No. Of course not. Not in the public workplace, for sure. Everybody is different. Some African Americans speak standard English at the work place and something closer to American Black English in private or among others who all understand it. Many speak only standard English; many speak Black English almost exclusively. Almost all understand standard English passively, although there are occasionally misunderstandings.
So it seems AAVE (African American Vernacular English) is difficult to undrestand even for a native speaker. Of course a lot of African Americans can speak perfect standard American English (even with a rhotic accent). But let's suppose you're walking down a street, you come across a black guy and you want to ask him something. What's the probability that you won't completely understand what he'll tell you or the probability that he won't completely understand you?

I know nothing about the situation in the UK, if there's a typical "black-dialect or accent." I'm almost sure British blacks don't talk the same way as Americans, that is, they don't speak AAVE. Nona mentioned something about Jamaican language, which is pretty different from AAVE.
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Hi Kooyeen,

You asked:
But let's suppose you're walking down a street, you come across a black guy and you want to ask him something. What's the probability that you won't completely understand what he'll tell you or the probability that he won't completely understand you?
In my experience communicational problems are rare between speakers of General American and Black American English. Even if you speak RP you will almost always get your point across with Black English speakers, and if you have a good ear for Black English, you will likely understand them, too. I also believe it's easier to understand someone when you're actually talking to them than if you merely hear the accent on the TV, for instance. People tend to modify their speech a bit when they talk to people with different accents so as to make it easier for their interlocutor to understand them.

You wrote:
I know nothing about the situation in the UK, if there's a typical "black-dialect or accent." I'm almost sure British blacks don't talk the same way as Americans, that is, they don't speak AAVE.
There most certainly is something called Black British English. The accent is different from American Black English, but they also have something in common.
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