Thursday, June 12, 2008

AAVE & Hip Hop Culture

I'm a hip-hop fan and I had been working in a middle school in Ithaca for 3 years. When I took the kids to the gym to play basketball we'd often put on hip-hop CDs that I would bring (only because all theirs had profanity and that's a big no-no). We had one student, Kris, who had just moved from NYC and produced a lot of rap with his cousin and we got to talking about the language they used. He was complaining that he can make all this money producing/writing/rapping in, as he called it, hip-hop language, but in Ithaca he would get yelled at if he spoke like that in the classroom because it was not proper. He said it was only a few teachers but often english, reading, and writing teachers. I never really knew how to fill him in on this whole idea the AAVE is a fine way to speak but that many people consider is subpar to SE (standard english)... Not to give this kid too much credit though... He was suprised I liked hip-hop and that I liked basketball because I was white.

1 comment:

Grace Butler said...

AAVE is not subpar in any way. Academic English is not intrinsically better than any other variety. All varieties of English have a particular grammar, vocabulary, and syntax that is fully capable of complex communication.

Maybe it would make sense if you explained it like this. Within the United States, there are hundreds and hundreds of varieties of English. Each has a slightly different grammar, vocabulary, and syntax. They're generally mutually intelligible, but sometimes when two people from different varieties of English come together, there can be miscommunication. Therefore when things really matter - when you're creating something that may be read or listened to by a broad audience - it's useful to use Standard English. Because of this, English teachers especially take it upon themselves to make sure students know and can use it. Other teachers tend not to care to quite the same extent.