Lexicon Valley

White Author, Black English. Problem?

Mark Twain famously depicted what he called the “Missouri Negro dialect” of Jim. Would that be acceptable today?

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Episode Notes

For centuries now, white authors have depicted Black characters speaking some form of Black vernacular English. Too often, of course, the portrayal has been one of ridicule, a minstrel-like mocking of the way that African Americans are deemed to speak. But many serious novelists and poets have attempted to faithfully and respectfully record the way that people—all people—really talk. Is that OK?

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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