Black English

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Related to African American Vernacular English: Ebonics

Black English,

distinctive dialectdialect,
variety of a language used by a group of speakers within a particular speech community. Every individual speaks a variety of his language, termed an idiolect. Dialects are groups of idiolects with a common core of similarities in pronunciation, grammar, and vocabulary.
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 spoken at times by as many as 80% to 90% of African Americans; also called ebonics. Long considered merely substandard English, it is in fact a distinct form. African slaves confronting white culture, and themselves speaking many different languages, developed a pidginpidgin
, a lingua franca that is not the mother tongue of anyone using it and that has a simplified grammar and a restricted, often polyglot vocabulary. The earliest documented pidgin is the Lingua Franca (or Sabir) that developed among merchants and traders in the Mediterranean
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, mixing for the most part English vocabulary and African syntax, that developed into Black English. Much that seems grammatically incorrect actually represents consistent application of African structural principles. A social, rather than regional, dialect, it is similar in all parts of the United States, as research since the 1960s has shown. Its role in public education is a source of controversy because its effect on the process of learning to read and write is not clearly understood. In addition, its exclusive use by individuals has usually limited their opportunities for social advancement. See also GullahGullah
, a creole language formerly spoken by the Gullah, an African-American community of the Sea Islands and the Middle Atlantic coast of the United States. The word is probably a corruption of the African Gola or Gora,
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