Sista, Speak!

Overview

The demand of white, affluent society that all Americans should speak, read, and write "proper" English causes many people who are not white and/or middle class to attempt to "talk in a way that feel peculiar to [their] mind," as a character in Alice Walker's The Color Purple puts it. In this book, Sonja Lanehart explores how this valorization of "proper" English has affected the language, literacy, educational achievements, and self-image of five African American women—her ...

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Sista, Speak!: Black Women Kinfolk Talk about Language and Literacy

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Overview

The demand of white, affluent society that all Americans should speak, read, and write "proper" English causes many people who are not white and/or middle class to attempt to "talk in a way that feel peculiar to [their] mind," as a character in Alice Walker's The Color Purple puts it. In this book, Sonja Lanehart explores how this valorization of "proper" English has affected the language, literacy, educational achievements, and self-image of five African American women—her grandmother, mother, aunt, sister, and herself.

Through interviews and written statements by each woman, Lanehart draws out the life stories of these women and their attitudes toward and use of language. Making comparisons and contrasts among them, she shows how, even within a single family, differences in age, educational opportunities, and social circumstances can lead to widely different abilities and comfort in using language to navigate daily life. Her research also adds a new dimension to our understanding of African American English, which has been little studied in relation to women.

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What People Are Saying

Geneva Smitherman
This book is a major achievement by one of the brightest young scholars in the field.
Geneva Smitherman, author of Talkin That Talk: Language, Culture, and Education in African America
Geneva Smitherman
This book is a major achievement by one of the brightest young scholars in the field.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780292747296
  • Publisher: University of Texas Press
  • Publication date: 6/1/2002
  • Edition description: 1ST
  • Pages: 268
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.61 (d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction
Part One. The Narratives: Peculiar to Your Mind
1. Our Languages, Our Selves
2. Maya: It Doesn't Bother Me
3. Grace: I Always Wondered If My Life Would Have Been Different If
4. Reia: Searching for My Place
5. Deidra: A Mother's Love Is the Greatest Love of All
6. Sonja: I Had to Do What I Wanted to Do
Part Two. The Analyses: Surreality
7. Maya: I'm Comfortable Like I Am:
8. Grace: If I Could've Gotten into a Trade School
9. Reia: I Am Proud of Myself
10. Deidra: I Was Hiding. I Didn't Know. I Was Scared
11. Sonja: I Had a Positive Experience
12. The Rest of the Story
Appendix 1. Participants' Possible Selves Data
Appendix 2. Participants' Speech Samples Data
Appendix 3. Participants' Language and Literacy Ideologies Data
Notes
Bibliography
Index
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