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Talking Back, Talking Black: Truths About…
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Talking Back, Talking Black: Truths About America's Lingua Franca

by John McWhorter

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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
John McWhorter argues that "Black English" is a subsidiary language with its own grammar and history, like Haitian Creole or Sicilian. Rather then a chaotic mass of mistakes made by the uneducated, it's highly structured with consistent usage and rules. As a college writing teacher, this was a good reminder that some of my students, even if they were born in this country, could be speaking and writing an unfamiliar dialect in my class. As a general reader, however, this was a bit frustrating. McWhorter constantly refers to studies that support his claims but never describes them in detail or cites them in notes. In fact there are no notes. If we want to know more we're on our own. So McWhorter never gets into his topic in any real depth, he just skims on the surface, repeats himself, mentions studies he doesn't cite multiple times. This is a 5 star idea with 3 star execution. ( )
  susanbooks | Jul 14, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This was really interesting! I have a background in anthropology, though, including anthropological linguistics, so I'm not sure how someone without that would fare. I also wish he'd devoted a little more time talking about the culture-language interaction, but he's not a linguistic anthropologist so I'm not being fair. McWhorter also includes some discussion on making Black English more acceptable to the wider (and yes, mostly white) culture, which I really appreciated. This same section is also helpful for other dialects; I've successfully defended myself when I slipped into southern dialects more than once now by pointing out the linguistic usefulness.

I received this book from the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program in exchange for an honest review.
  Watry | Jun 21, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
John McWhorter packs a big punch in this slim volume of essays about Black English. The books convincingly explains how Black English is a dialect deserving of respect, not "slang" or "bad grammar." The strongest part of the book is how he crafts his arguments to make them more politically compelling and, hopefully, better convince the public of the value of Black English. ( )
  zhejw | Jan 27, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Another fantastic foray into linguistics by John McWhorter! His style is amusing yet very informative and easy to understand.
  amyblue | Jan 7, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers Program.

I'm very interested in linguistics, so I was quite excited to get started on this book. And it didn't disappoint me at all. It offered a lot of insight into what he often calls Black English. I have always marveled at the flexibility of language and how it evolves and changes. Simultaneously, I've been frustrated by the people around me who seem to view these changes strictly as bastardizations of the language. Every language has these variances, dialects, etc, yet in American many people seem to discount them. This book helps to explain.

So why three stars? First, I felt that many times the author was speaking to readers in a condescending manner. As someone who already understands these concepts on a base level, I felt like he addressed us as a group of readers who could never understand fully what he was trying to say. This seemed unfair. I also feel that it might not have been highly accessible to readers who don't already have a grasp on linguistics to begin with. Those two things aside, I thought it was decent. Short enough that I didn't feel a need to quit early which can be a threat with specialized topics like this. ( )
  sweyenberg | Jan 6, 2017 |
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"In his first book devoted solely to the form, structure, and development of Black English, John McWhorter clearly explains its fundamentals and rich history, while carefully examining the cultural, educational, and political issues that have undermined recognition of this transformative, empowering dialect."--Page 4 of cover.… (more)

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