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Language is Power. Adolf Hitler said “If a lie is repeated often enough people will believe it.” The most evil man in history was able to orchestrate.

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Presentation on theme: "Language is Power. Adolf Hitler said “If a lie is repeated often enough people will believe it.” The most evil man in history was able to orchestrate."— Presentation transcript:

1 Language is Power

2 Adolf Hitler said “If a lie is repeated often enough people will believe it.” The most evil man in history was able to orchestrate the murder of millions of people by manipulating language. By controlling the media and supplying propaganda he was able to convince good people to commit evil acts. He knew three things: 1. Keep it short and simple. 2. Repeat it. 3. Offer easy solutions to complex problems (e.g. within 4 years German unemployment dropped from 6 million to 0) He even took an archetypal symbol– the swastika – and used it as a logo for the Nazi regime. Where it was once the oldest known symbol of luck, peace, power peace and life – all positive things, it is now a universal symbol of hatred… that’s powerful!

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4 With your seating partner, brainstorm all the ways language can be used to manipulate people. How many historical example can you think of when language played a key role in the subjugation of a race/group?

5 British Colonialism history.com/demos/tome05/index.php history.com/demos/tome05/index.php spreads the English language, but also establishes English speakers as the elite, powerful, wealthy and morally superior… BUT wait, how does that happen?

6 The Slave Trade

7 Slavery in America: Historical Overview By Ronald L. F. Davis, Ph. D. California State University, Northridge On the eve of the American Civil War approximately 4 million enslaved African Americans lived in the southern region of the United States of America. The vast majority worked as plantation slaves in the production of cotton, sugar, tobacco, and rice. Very few of these enslaved people were African born principally because the importation of enslaved Africans to the United States officially ended in 1808, although thousands were smuggled into the nation illegally in the 50 years following the ban on the international trade. These enslaved people were the descendants of 12 to 13 million African forbearers ripped from their homes and forcibly transported to the Americas in a massive slave trade dating from the 1400s. Most of these people, if they survived the brutal passages from Africa, ended up in the Caribbean (West Indies) or in South and Central America. Brazil alone imported around five million enslaved Africans. This forced migration is known today as the African Diaspora, and it is one of the greatest human tragedies in the history of the world…

8 Slavery robbed people of… their basic human rights their homeland and family their freedom and their life The role of language in this travesty is HUMONGOUS!

9 Words were used to put people down, they were robbed of their native languages and forced to learn new ways to communicate. Brainstorm a list of all the ways words can be used as weapons!

10 Narrative of Sarah Gudger. Ex-slave, 121 years I 'membahs de time when mah mammy wah alive, I wah a small chile, afoah dey tuck huh t' Rims Crick. All us chillens wah playin' in de ya'd one night. Jes' arunnin' an' aplayin' lak chillun will. All a sudden mammy cum to de do' all a'sited. "Cum in heah dis minnit," she say. "Jes look up at what is ahappenin'," and bless yo' life, honey, da sta's wah fallin' jes' lak rain.* Mammy wah tebble skeered, but we chillen wa'nt afeard, no, we wa'nt afeard. But mammy she say evah time a sta' fall, somebuddy gonna die. Look lak lotta folks gonna die f'om de looks ob dem sta's. Ebbathin' wah jes' as bright as day. Yo' cudda pick a pin up. Yo' know de sta's don' shine as bright as dey did back den. I wondah wy dey don.' Dey jes' don' shine as bright. Wa'nt long afoah dey took mah mammy away, and I wah lef' alone. *(One of the most spectacular meteoric showers on record, visible all over North America, occurred in 1833.) Federal Writer's Project, United States Work Projects Administration (USWPA); Manuscript Division, Library of Congress

11 Slave Narrative Reading Response Instructions: Complete the following on a separate sheet of paper. 1.Write a brief explanation of the event described by ex-slave Sarah Gudger. 2.What makes her narrative difficult to understand? 3.Why do you think the recorder of this narrative chose to write/transcribe it the way it is? 4.What is the effect of retaining the original dialectical pronunciation? 5.In the novel, what is the effect of using dialect as opposed to traditional Standard English?

12 Ebonics Rooted In Slaves' Language By Major W. Cox Recently, the slang spoken by inner city African-American children, sometimes referred to as "Black English," has garnered enormous media attention. This current interest in the subject stems from an action taken by the Oakland, California, Board Of Education. The members of the Board voted to declare "Ebonics" (a contraction of ebony and phonics) the primary language of the inter-city African-American children within the district. Therefore, these children should be taught Standard English as a second language. Many commentators and pundits have spoken or written on the subject in the weeks since. Most all have condemned Oakland’s action in harsh terms. Nevertheless, the sad reality for these children is that they are unable to speak Standard English. The question society must answer is, why?

13 In search of an answer to this dilemma, one needs to look back in the nation’s history to the slave trade. History tells us that the first Dutch slave traders bringing slaves to America would collect their "cargo" from different locations. In so doing, they insured the slaves on ships traveling to America could not speak to each other. This provided the ship’s crew a measure of protection against being overthrown during the long journey to America. Once they landed at their destination, they found the purchasers of their peculiar cargo willing to pay a premium for a group of slaves who could not speak to each other. As the demand for slaves increased, the muting of African languages in the United States continued. Slave traders found it more efficient to land in the Caribbean Islands, before coming to the United States. This allowed them to exchange and mix their slave cargo with that of other traders in order to obtain a speechless language mix among the slaves being sold in the United States.

14 Once slaves reached their destination, the only communication allowed or possible was in the English language. Slave masters universally prohibited slaves from speaking any language other than English; yet, it was unlawful for slaves to be taught to read or write. As a result, slaves developed a pidgin language, using the limited English taught by their masters as the basis of their vocabulary. Hence, if a slave wanted to express the concept of being wealthy or rich, he may have used these words: "I am eating high on the hog." Or if he wanted express a feeling of being safe and secure, he might have expressed it this way: "I’m sleeping in tall cotton." When slaves needed to communicate an idea, opinion or thought for which they had not learned an English word, they surely must have used words from their native African language. Mothers taught their children this African-English pidgin, which slaves used to communicate among themselves. This was the language that slaves used to express their feelings of love to each other and hope for their children. This is the language [that] slaves used to sing their songs and tell their stories. Slaves used their African-English pidgin language to teach survival strategy from one generation to the next. It became the language of slavery. When a slave escaped from the South to the North, it was the inability to speak proper English that frequently branded him an escaped slave.

15 When slavery ended in 1865, most conditions of life for the millions of former slaves improved enormously. But a close look at the years following emancipation finds little improvement in opportunity or ability for former slaves to learn and use Standard English. Jim Crow segregation laws in the South culturally isolated generations of descendants of former slaves, they spoke the only language they knew: the African-English pidgin learned from their slave ancestors. In the North, conditions were little better. There, generations of descendants of former slaves found themselves segregated into urban ghettos. In these poor slums, isolated from opportunities to learn and speak standard English, black children continued to learn and speak the language of love and hope, the language of survival at the breasts of mothers who only spoke the African-English pidgin handed down from their slave ancestors. America's poor black children speaking "Ebonics" today are speaking the language of a culturally isolated people. The solution to these children’s problem of not being able to speak Standard English is simple! We need to embrace each as one of us. Instead of encouraging them to create their own language of cultural deprivation, teachers need to manifest enough dedication and devotion toward their students to teach them how to speak correct English without destroying their self-esteem. Originally Published: 15 January 1997, Montgomery Advertiser Reproduced with permission. If you want to know more about Major W. Cox, see the following web site:

16 1.Write a brief explanation of how the unique language of the enslaved people originated. 2.Briefly compare the way you learned language skills to the way the enslaved learned to communicate. 3.Statement: Major Cox has a strong opinion about Ebonics and which English should be taught in schools. Make a list of reasons to agree and to disagree with him. Ebonics Essay Reading Response

17 Works Cited


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