— Snapshots — 1 min read
Diglossia is the segregation of the use of two language varieties on the basis of function by members of a speech community. That's a pile of jargon. If you use one language or dialect in formal situations, and another in informal ones, then you are likely a part of a diglossic speech community.
Previous Linguists have named these informal contexts Low (domestic, local) and call the formal context High (academic, national, global). I will call them Formal and Informal.
New York, like many states, has General American English (GAE) and African American Vernacular (AAVE) (also known as Black American English, or Ebonics) among its many dialects. AAVE is unique because despite being easily identifiable as dialect of English, it has a distinctive grammar. Copula deletion and negative concord are two of its features.
In school, they don't teach AAVE. If anything, the opposite is true. My teachers said "Repeat after me. Ain't is Not a word" and "people will respect you more if you speak proper English." When I went home, I spoke Creole. On the news, I heard GAE. In TV shows, GAE. On the internet, GAE...
I never spoke Inner City English because my teachers told me it was wrong. They said was not even a "real language." Now I know better. Enough about me. AAVE is real. All dialects are real, valid, and have the expressive power to change the world.
So, sorry when my language doesn't live up to your expectations for a black person. I've been told I speak like I'm reading out an essay. I've been told that I sound pretentious, jargony, excessive. I've even been accused of using words whose meanings I don't know. Imagine that.
Language is how we interface with the world. Perhaps we should all reflect of how language biases shape our interactions. As an SAT tutor, my first lesson of grammar starts with an affirmation and a commitment. "Ungrammatical in the eyes of the College Board doesn't mean you should change part what makes you who you are."