Black English

Revision Notes on Black English - Language Variation

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Pidgins + Creoles


  • Pidgin: evolved from main source language, usually taking from it the majority of their vocab, but less grammatically developed.
    Often spoken by people in particular social contexts; non-pidgin speakers who do speak one of source languages may have contributed to it but are unlikely to understand it without experience
  • Creole: grows out of a pidgin as it becomes more established + begins to be used by second generation, native speakers.
    Grammar of the creole usually derived from source languages, but in a simplified form.
    Tend to be more culturally significant + take on a more deeply rooted life in the speech of a community + its identity
  • As these languages are often formed by convenience (esp. Pidgins), they can appear + disappear in a short space of time, if conditions that made them useful no longer exist 
  • A creole may contain 'too many' features of its source resulting in standard speakers regarding it as nothing more than a lesser dialect form resulting in a lower status
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Jamaican Creole

  • Roots of Jamaican Creole, JC, stretch back to impacts of British colonists in C17+18th 
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Grammatical Features of BE

  • No final 's' -  he walk
  • No use of forms of the verb 'be' -  If you interested
  • Use of the verb 'be' without changing grammatical form - Sometime they be
  • Use of 'been' to express past - I been know your name
  • Use of ' be done' instead of 'will have' - We be done washed all this
  • Use of double negatives
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