Written by the hugely respected linguist, Geneva Smitherman, this book presents a definitive statement on African American English. Enriched by her evocative and inimitable prose style, the study presents an overview of past debates on the speech of African Americans, as well as providing a vision for the future. Featuring cartoons which demonstrate the relationship between language and race, as well as common perceptions of African American Language, she explores its contribution to mainstream American English and includes a summary of expressions as a suggested linguistic core of AAL.
As global manifestations of Black Language increase, she argues that, through education, we must broaden our conception of AAL and its speakers, and further examine the implications of gender, age and class on AAL. Perhaps most of all we must appreciate the ‘artistic and linguistic genius’ of AAL, presented in this book through rap and Hip Hop lyrics and the explorations of rhyme and rhetoric in the Black speech community.
Word from the Mother is an essential read for students of African American English, language, culture and sociolinguistics, as well as the general reader interested in the worldwide ‘crossover’ of black popular culture.