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Talking Back, Talking Black: Truths About…

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

by John McWhorter

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286389,858 (4.06)4



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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 |
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 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
If you don't recall the difference between pronouns and adjectives from middle school you may find this short, intriguing book to be lacking in basic background knowledge. It does assume a certain level of familiarity with the structure of the English langauge and attempts to build upon that toward a great point - one which is well taken. While the over all message is clear and argued for well the structure does read like a PhD discertation that was expanded upon in order to add the necessary bulk to comprise a proper book. So, if you enjoy semi-academic reading this will have you rapped with delightful insights and inquisitive wonder but it is not one that everyone in your world will be up for taking on. ( )
  VictoriaBrodersen | Dec 26, 2016 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
In this fascinating book, linguist John McWhorter presents a compelling argument - that the spoken language of the majority of black Americans is not a broken or error-filled English, but is a separate dialect from what he terms Standard English. Linguistic scholars currently refer to this dialect as African-American Vernacular English, which is quite a mouthful and sounds very academic, so the author refers to it as Black English. TALKING BACK TALKING BLACK, in an introduction and five chapters (totaling less than 200 pages), addresses many of the preconceptions of Black English, proposes a cultural and linguistic heritage for Black English, gives examples of the systematic grammar and speech patterns that qualify this as a distinct dialect of Standard English, and includes many historic and modern references to illustrate the dialect throughout time. The overarching idea is that, just as the English Language has grown and changed over time, due to various influences and interminglings, so has Black English. They are both rich and complex languages and are deserving of study and celebration. ( )
  BooksForYears | Dec 15, 2016 |
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