Black English vs white English?

this is a serious question. I truly am curious about this. when a black person speaks versus a white person, there is a difference in their speech. It doesn't seem to matter where in the country they're from

for example, I'm from philly. Black people who grew up here speak with a different tone. Is that a cultural thing? To maintain that? I'm sorry if this question isn't properly worded. I'm actually not sure how to ask it but hopefully you get the idea.


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Most Helpful Guy

  • I study linguistics and I happen to have researched "black English" in the course of my studies, so I might be able to help you a bit :-).
    Black English has many names but we linguists usually call it African American Vernacular English, or AAVE. AAVE is generally considered a so-called sociolect. Sociolects are "varieties" (another technical term) spoken by particular social groups (contrary to dialects, which are spoken by groups of different geographic locations). For example women talk different than men. Working class folks talk different than rich people. Teenagers talk different than adults or elders. These are all well-researched sociolects. The special feature about AAVE is that its history goes back a long way. It is not fully understood yet how AAVE came into existence. However, there is one hypothesis that is by far the most popular among linguists who have been concentrating their efforts on this subject. This hypothesis assumes that AAVE is the product of a so-called creole language. Creoles are languages that are basically a mixture between two (rarely three) different languages. Usually, this mixture seems random but it is in fact very systematic. For instance a creole language would rely heavily on the vocabulary of language A but put it together with the grammatical rules of language B. Contrary to Pidgins, which are only proto-languages and used to communicate the most important needs, creoles are fully developed and functional languages which have native speakers (so children would be raised in a new creole language). Creoles are particularly prevalent in south and central America, including the caribbean. However, it has been proven that all the black slaves imported from Africa (mostly the region of modern Congo and Angola) did originally speak a creole language. This creoles were usually a construction of English (or quasi-English) words, composed with the grammatical rules of their original African languages. It is also believed that these creoles were one of the major reasons white Americans assumed their slaves to be of low intelligence. To white people, the creoles of their slaves often sounded like gibberish or simply "bad English". However, today linguists know this is not true. Creoles were not inferior to standard English in any way. Though they often had different grammatical rules, they were just as complex and functional as standard English. A native speaker of a creole language was just as capable of expressing

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    • 3mo

      himself as diversely and completely as a white slave owner. This, by the way, is also true for modern AAVE. During the 1990s, some right-wing politicians started to demand that public schools should forbid their black students from talking "wrong English". In the course of these political campaigns, lots of academic research went into investigating the claim that AAVE was wrong or bad English. Towards the late 1990s, it became and more clear and proven that this claim is false. Like the original creoles, AAVE might sound wrong to white people's ears sometimes but it is just as complex and linguistically systematic as the white varieties of American English.
      Though we don't know with absolute certainty whether modern AAVE and the original creoles spoken by the black slaves are related, it is extremely likely that this is indeed the case. Probably, the creoles adapted more and more similarity with white English the longer black people lived in the US.

Most Helpful Girl

  • It isn't race, it's upbringing. Black immigrants don't have it, always talked "white english" no matter how hard I tried 😂 It's AAVE.

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What Guys Said 8

  • I'm assuming you're talking about their dialect. In that case yes Black English aka Ebonics aka African American Vernacular is a result of history and culture. Black English is simply a modernize version of how rural southern whites used to speak back then. Black Americans were influence by this and adopted that style of talking. When blacks started to move out of the South and relocated in the North and West, they took their style of talking with them.

    As for why its prevalent throughout the entire country regardless of state/region/city that is the result of how Americans unconsciously segregate themselves. People in America are more likely to live in communities that are homogeneous (both culturally and racially). Since Blacks tend to live around other blacks, they influence one another at a young age and keep the Ebonics language alive.

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  • i'm from philly. there is no such thing as Black English... there is different slang, and what not but it isn't so simple as to call it Black English. i'm sure you've heard black people speak using traditional English right

    it is a cultural and environmental thing anytime anyone speaks using different language than "proper english". this crosses racial boundaries

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  • Its not a product of race its a product of upbringing (generally related to socioeconomic ststus).

    Obama for example, speaks what most would consider 'White English'

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  • Yeah I speak Ebonics around my POC's, but when I'm at work/professional setting my vernacular changes. It's funny cuz I been called white boy by coworkers because I talk proper, but I'm just like y'all don't know me like that lol.

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  • Yeah. I think ask vs arks is universal in black English vs white English. lol. There's a difference, however there's a lot of wiggers these days who try to talk, dress and act black.

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  • Yeah, it's the environment that they grew up in. I have a black friend who sounds completely white, because he grew up in a white neighborhood.

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    • 3mo

      I agree that it's the environment. However, I have black friends who will sound white around other white people or in the work place. But when they're around other black people, they revert back to a different tone.

  • Ebonics. The lower IQ makes them difficult to teach.

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  • thats normal because these are two different races who have different physical features

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What Girls Said 2

  • Not speech, but definitely voice tone.

    Usually when a black girl has a more softer tone... people usually says she sounds white, even if she doesn't speak the most proper English.
    (I get this all of the time).

    I knew it was official when my white friend... said I am a white girl dipped in chocolate lol

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  • Black English is basically the cool English and white English is the boring English

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