Lexicon Valley

This Am a Minstrel Stereotype, Right?

A longstanding mystery of Black English may finally be solved.

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Episode Notes

A common minstrel trope implied that Black English was once replete with what linguists call the “generalized am”—that is, using the verb form “am” with pronouns other than the first-person singular. But is there any evidence that African Americans actually spoke that way? John McWhorter investigates.

Podcast production by Mike Vuolo.

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About the Show

If you’ve ever had curious thoughts and questions about the ways we speak, read, and write, Lexicon Valley is the show for you. Hosted by linguist John McWhorter.

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