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Hall 1

Jazmen Hall
19 October 2015
Instructor Hankerson
Eng 1010- 028
Black English is English

The misunderstanding of Black English triggered an interest in James Baldwin


which he expresses in article If Black English Isnt a Language, The Tell Me, What Is? In this
article Baldwin discusses how language creates exposure of who the speaker is and their
background. He claims that language has been altered by people to adapt and become relevant to
them. In comparison to English, Baldwin reminds us of the French language and how many
different cultures speak totally different dialects of the language, but is still classified as French
still. He argues that different experiences can influence ones language.
In the beginning of the article, Baldwin suggests that languages, in some way, has
been impacted by another in some sort. He reaffirms that the white cultures English is greatly
different from the black cultures English, however the white culture language has been impacted
by the black cultures. He goes on to acknowledge that the white culture have took phrases and
words from the black culture and transformed them for their own use. He also asserts that blacks
are frowned upon for using Black English but when the white culture use it, no judgement is
passed. Baldwin states how diverse experiences has the ability to evolve a language.
Next Baldwin reports that Black English was created back in slavery. He asserts that
the slaves came from different cultures, therefore they did not speak the same language. He
suggests that Black English was created so the slaves were able to communicate with each other,

Hall 2

however, create some secrecy between them and the slave owners. Baldwin explains how Black
Language was used so other blacks could understand each other, but their history and past.
Last, Baldwin claims that language segregates people as well as power. He discusses
how in America society was not built for a black to succeed in white culture while using Black
English. He argues that race is an issue when it comes to language. He states that a black would
have to reject their culture and language to accept the white cultures language and then could
not be considered white nor identified as black. Baldwin argues that the country standards on
what a real language is could be considered as prejudice.
Baldwin believed that the language someone spoke played a big role in who they are and
where they came from. He also suggested that Black English was an influence on White English.
He adds that the origin of Black English rooted back to the time where slavery existed. Lastly, he
closes by saying that politics have a big impact on language.