Black Talk: The Cultural Context

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Originally published in Contemporary Psychology: APA Review of Books, 1979, Vol 24(3), 253–254. Reviews the book, Talkin and Testifyin: The Language of Black America by Geneva Smitherman (1977). This work expands a tradition of scholarship, underway since the late 1960s, which examines the language of black America within the cultural context in which it is embedded. This book responds to three questions: What is black English? Where did it come from? What are its implications for black-white interaction and teaching black children? The author's frequent appeal to Afro-American literature as a source of evidence on usage adds both spice and strength to the major contentions of the work. The brief historical background presented in the first chapter treats the processes of linguistic evolution. Black and white attitudes toward black dialect and issues of educational policy are treated in the penultimate and final chapters. The style of the entire work is pleasing and highly readable. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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