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Thursday, January 04, 2007


Shawn F.

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?
I know to some this may come off as pure speculation, 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 the Hip hop community is portrayed as unintelligent 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 people who 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 that,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 accept 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


Beloved I. Jedidiah said...

"100% intelligent black child"-
Qtip- "the Jazz"

Nuff said son.. it is a language, and culture, way of life simply birthed in the inner city, now a international life and natural upbringin agrees with this essay. Salute Dagif.

Jr said...

That quote was actually from "Check the Rhyme."

Chris said...

No, because they live in AMERICA they must speak/read/write the same type of English as everyone else to be perceived as anything other than vulgar and unintelligent. America is a whole different country from the U.K. which is why our English differs.

Anonymous said...

I'm actually writing about this topic.

I wouldn't say that I am polarized as a Precriptivist or a Descriptivist linguist, but for the sake of establishing and maintaining a career within corporate America or almost any career for that matter, individuals need to be able to use the Standard American English. It is virtually impossible and an uphill battle to believe that individuals such as a Human Resources department should be thoughtful or leanient towards such English which strongly varies from the Standard American English.

Finally, I don't believe that people should stop using Hip-Hop English but rather have the ability to diglossically adapt depending on their situation.

From: Erika

Anonymous said...

hip hop is english black.

songs full of gang slangs.

mispronunciation and serious grammatical errors.

if native speakers have trouble understanding such street vocabulary let alone non native speakers.

thank to God that organizations as plain english campaigns exist.

Anonymous said...

hip hop slang should be considered a dialect. but i think that even if everyone is allowd to speak their own dialect, they should be able to speak a common way of speaking to someone who do not know the slang and speak to their own in their dialect.

Earl Moorhead said...

To be considered a viable dialect it must meet certain parameters; an internal consistency of its grammatical rules and pronunciation; a substantial vocabulary of at least 30,000 words ability to express a broad range of sophisticated ideas; intuitiveness; efficiency of expression. Hip Hop fails in almost every instance. It is merely slang, with little to recommend it to the ear of anyone beyond its participants, and will inevitably give way to something new, invented by a different social demographic.