[stormingheaven] ebonics?

Tom Lehman uswa12 at Lorainccc.edu
Thu Aug 19 16:57:17 PDT 1999

I've always been under the impression that Black English had African roots. Wouldn't you think that a kidnapped people not allowed to use their native language would use words in an alien language that re-minded them of their native tongue.

Tom Lehman

"John K. Taber" wrote:

> "David Jennings [MSAI]" <djenning at ai.uga.edu> said:
> begin:
> On Thu, 19 Aug 1999, Seth Ackerman wrote:
> > That's what I thought, too. The subjunctive was used a lot more
> >often back then.
> >
> >> Doug wrote:
> >>
> >> >Here's a test.
> >> >
> >> >Jack be nimble.
> >> >Jack be quick.
> >> >Jack jump over the candlestick.
> >> >
> >> >Is that Ye olde white English or Ebonics ?
> >>
> >> I thought it was subjunctive mood.
> >>
> >
> Whew. Here I was thinking that they used _bad_ english, but actually
> they
> were using _good_ english. In fact, great english, given that they
> could
> use such high-fallutin', non-impoverished verb forms.
> Do yall suppose that Ebonics speakers don't have the consciousness to
> allow them to aspire to the subjunctive? And with all that conceptual
> impoverishment, who's going to conduct their revolution for them?
> Slightly stunned, d
> - ------------------------------------------
> David Jennings SSS II
> Agri-Services Labs CAES, UGA
> end:
> I'm not sure how to take your comments, but I'll try to answer anyhow.
> I live in the Dallas/Ft Worth area. Some Whites disparage black areas
> of town as "Weebee Town" because local Black speech uses "We be".
> In Deep Ellum years ago before it was gentrified, I overheard a Black
> unselfconsciously use "be" perfectly in the subjunctive sense. It was
> exciting for me, like hearing Chaucer live.
> It isn't always used subjunctively, but that is a major use.
> Somebody else asked for the sense of the nursery rhyme, and gave
> two possibilities. I think the first was right. The sense is
> "Were Jack nimble and quick, he would jump over the candlestick."
> "Quick" is tricky; it probably means "alive", not "speedy".
> As for why a candlestick, that would take some research. Many
> nursery rhymes were once sarcastic comments by the people upon
> their betters. Jack Horner was if I remember correctly the Lord
> Mayor of London noted for his corruption. Now you understand
> what "pulled out a plum" referred to.
> London Bridge was forever falling down because it was shoddily
> maintained by corrupt contractors and government officials
> who forever patched it up with sticks and stones.
> I suspect that Jack was slow enough you'd think he was dead, and
> that there is some political commentary hidden in candlestick.
> Somebody slow to do his job thanks to bribery or some such.
> John K. Taber

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