“If Black English Isn’t a Language, Then Tell Me, What Is?” was written by James Baldwin in response to a debate in the United States about the usage of black English in the media. There are many languages established by persons who are marginalised, and these languages deserve full recognition as languages, he believes.
Instead, certain dialects are forbidden to be spoken. They are not allowed to speak their own language and must use the language of the dominant group. Languages that have been suppressed become political weapons when the dominant language is used by those in power.
Black English is referred to as a “dialect” rather than a language because of this attempt at suppression. Baldwin argues that the problem isn’t so much with the languages as it is with a contempt for those on the margins of society. Examples from all over the world illustrate the conflicts that arise when marginalised groups’ attempts to affirm their identities through language are thwarted.
Even decades after Baldwin penned the article, African-Americans continue to face discrimination in the United States. AAVE, or African American Vernacular English, is the formal name for black English, which is now more often known as AAVE.
The Narrator’s Point of View
According to the first-person narration of “If Black English Is Not a Language, Then Tell Me, What Is?”, black English is in fact a language and not just a dialect or other subclass of spoken communication. Baldwin’s personal connection to the topic necessitates a first-person perspective. The argument’s immediacy and inevitability are emphasised by using the present tense.
Regarding the Name of the Book
During the late 1970s, James Baldwin, an American author living in France, was at the forefront of the argument about the legitimacy of black English as a language in the United States.
The usage and acknowledgment of black English in schools was a particular topic of debate. In spite of the fact that Baldwin never had any children of his own, he had a deep love for his nieces and nephews and a deep worry for the future of African-Americans in the United States.
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If Black English Isn’t a Language, Then Tell Me, What Is? by James Baldwin has all you need to succeed in the book. provides an overview and analysis of the text’s themes, symbols, and literary methods. Examine Course Hero’s collection of literature resources, including documents and Q&A pairings.