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Monday, September 04, 2006


Dialect: Variety of a language spoken by a group of people and having features of vocabulary, grammar, and/ or pronunciation that distinguish it from other varieties of the same language.

Dialects usually develop as a result of geographic, social, political, or economic barriers between groups of people who speak the same language. When dialects diverge to the point that they are mutually incomprehensible, they become languages in their own right. This was the case with Latin, various dialects of which evolved into the different Romance languages French, Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian….

Hip hop slang in my opinion is what could be characterized as a socialect, which is a dialect determined by social factors rather than by geography. In the opinion of others outside of hip hop it’s a sign of ignorance or lack of education, or just plain bad English. What causes the division?
All be it of me to speculate, but what I have come to find is that the unacceptance of Hip hop slang as a dialect is a result of an unwillingness of high class society to accept the idea of what is deemed to be a low class society having the intellectual capacity to actually develop a dialect (in other words arrogance). Often times Hip hop artists and supporters are portrayed as unintelligible and as a result are often perceived as such. If someone you believe to be stupid speaks in a manner that you’re not accustomed to hearing, you might in all likeliness chalk it up to stupidity. The resistance towards hip hop slang as being viewed as a dialect comes from other angles as well. Many, which view themselves to be educated and accept the ideas that have been fed to them of what is an educated manner of speaking, also view hip hop slang as an unintelligible or uneducated manner of speaking the English language. Furthermore you have the fundamentalists who in my opinion fear the idea of hip hop slang being viewed as a dialect because, as I stated in the passage above, dialects have been known to turn into languages once they have reached a mutual level of incomprehensibility, which wouldn’t pose such a threat if the hip hop dialect was confined to a specific demographic. But the acceptance of the hip hop culture nationally and internationally is what, in my opinion, alarms fundamentalist. As hip hop receives more and more worldwide exposure through publications, T.V shows, radio stations, and other modern media, it bears the potential to change itself from being perceived as American culture to being accepted as a foundation American culture.

If you ask me it isn’t what it is, it’s what people have been taught to believe it is, that compels resistance against hip hop slang being accepted as a dialect of the English language. When in reality what we except as English is actually a dialect of the British English language and even that is a stretch. If you look up the origin in which many American words derive you’ll find that the English language is a bastard language comprised of mispronounced and borrowed words of other languages, sort of like Hip hop slang.

Let us know what you think, Hip hop slang; Dialect or just bad English


Melanie said...

I say bad English, but it could also be said that the British say that American's English is "bad English." So who knows...

Artangel Keibriel said...

I would say that there are a few dialects under the umbrella of Black English. Hip Hop Slang isn't one of them.
Slang itself cannot even be looked at as a dialect, because it's only vocab, and not grammar.
Hip Hop slang is traditionally used with the differing forms of Black English, but can be used with ease inside the parameters of the so-called Standard English.

Anonymous said...

I feel that hip hop slang is often lumped into the Black dialect. I'm a speech therapist and just because a person speaks Black English, it doesn't mean that they're language is disordered.

However, I do feel that speakers of Black English should know how to code switch between Standard American English and Black English. There's nothing wrong with slang/Black English. The speakers should be able to use each in appropriate settings.

Anonymous said...

I feel that its clever in its own right. If you look at some of the slang used, its simple a clever twist on Standard english.

I think its fun. When I'm with my friends and family we use slang all day long. It gives a me a strong feeling of belonging and it allows for me to expand on word play.

Pride seperates people. Along with the media. You show a people in a negative light long enough....then everything they do will be looked down on.

Besides its only stupid if no one knows what your talking about. It would not serve a purpose and hip hop slang does.

It identifies a people associated with a culture.

Is cowboy slang looked down on?
If not, should hip-hop slang be any different?

Those are my thoughts.