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Black and White Styles of Communication in Conflict By Professor Alan D. DeSantis.

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Presentation on theme: "Black and White Styles of Communication in Conflict By Professor Alan D. DeSantis."— Presentation transcript:

1 Black and White Styles of Communication in Conflict By Professor Alan D. DeSantis

2 A Brief History of English n 1) Around 400 years ago, the English settled (invaded) North America –They brought their language & customs & settled along America’s Eastern Coast From Georgia to Massachusetts (the original 13) n 2) With time, this spatial separation created sub- dialects that are still heard today (about 12 of them) –New York vs. Mississippi vs. Appalachian vs. Vermont “Talk” –Differences in accent, pace, vocabulary, phrasing, grammar n 3) But perhaps the most distinctive of all American dialects is Black English –Shaped by English, African, and Southern speech

3 English Comes to America New England Dialect New Jersey/York Dialect Appalachia Dialect Southern Dialect Black Dialect

4 A Brief History of English n 4) Through the course of the last 300 years, Black English has developed its own vocabulary, accent, rules for grammar, nonverbal cues, dress, walk, and CULTURE. –From California to New Jersey to Mississippi, Black English still shares many common linguistic elements n 5) As with all languages, however, our American dialects began to be culturally ranked –Since the seats of power (and $) ranged from Washington to Boston, “Standard” English became the way those people spoke

5 A Brief History of English n 6) The Problem: –A) All who speak differently, are taught to feel bad about their language patterns Thus, the Southern, Appalachian, and Black dialects are “considered” bad English –B) We forget that “standard English” is nothing but a dialect that developed along side the 7 other American dialects (Black English being one of the 7) n 7) While most of you in the class are familiar with the Southern/Kentucky dialect, most of us know very little about the Black Dialect –Also called Black English or Ebonics

6 7 Communication Differences

7 Communication Differences n 1) Black English Dialect is Different –As with all American dialects, Black English has its own specific rules for 1) pronunciation (ax, spoze, po-lice, aunt), 2) vocabulary (phat), 3) syntax, 4) accent (all can recognize), and 5) grammar (are = be) –It is not a bastardized version of standard English; It is its own linguistic form with its own laws of “appropriateness.” It is every bit as legitimate as any dialect in America (including North- Eastern, Southern, or Midwestern English) –My boss: “Why can’t those people speak “right” n Whites = uneducated & unrefined

8 Communication Differences n 2) Call and Response Communication –Traced back to Africa –The black church, jazz, movies, clubs, talk Dr. CCT’s movie, Apollo, churches, dance floor chanting, black classrooms (more interactive), interpersonal exchanges (overlapping) –Whites = interrupting, challenging, loud –Blacks = uninvolved and removed

9 Communication Differences n 3) Personal Style (Kotchman) –A) The desire to have an individual style automobiles (personalized), sports celebration (Ali to Dion), dress (the 2 Tommys), names (Tashaun vs. Bob), women’s church hats –B) To differentiate from white culture –Whites = showing off, cockiness, not being a team player –Blacks = boring and conformist

10 Communication Differences n 4) Styles in Conflict and Emotion – Blacks are more animated, louder, & expressive Anger & joy are openly expressed – For whites, rational means calm/quite White culture separates mind & emotions – Mask your true feelings – Whites = violent, less rational, unrefined, childish – Blacks = cold, dispassionate, unemotional

11 Communication Differences n 5) Importance of Rhythm (Asante, Davis) –“Rhythm/groove permeates everything” Walking, dancing, worshipping, Black step shows, marching bands, cheerleading Gospel, blues, R & B, jazz, rock, and rap from only 12% of our population Research also shows that “black talk” is more rhythmic and syncopated than white talk (there is a grove) –Whites = feeling out of synch –Blacks = feeling out of synch

12 Communication Differences n 6) Black vocabulary is more dynamic –White vocabulary is far more stable over time –Black language is far more dynamic (perhaps the most dynamic language in the history of the world) –Why: A) Language is fun, not just a tool B) Illustrates personal style (see # 3) C) White appropriation (forced to keep changing) –Whites = too complicated to try –Blacks = too boring, cold, and unimaginative

13 Communication Differences n 7) Nonverbal Cues –Proxemics--Closer space –Eye Contact—Reversed Greater while talking, less while listening –Gestures--Greater use of body Handshakes, body movement, walk, etc... –Touch--Higher touch culture (with each other) –Volume of Speech--Loud = Honest n Whites = too emotional and child-like n Blacks = too cold, removed, and dispassionate

14 Communication Differences n 8) Playful Use of Language –Playin’ Dozens, Signifying, Dissing, Dogin’ White culture sees language as a stable tool –Strive to speak clearly, precisely, consistently Black culture see language as dynamic art –Strive to speak creatively & imaginatively –Illustrates “style,” “rhythm,” “vocabulary” –Whites = insulted (not my momma) or confused –Blacks = dispassionate, no fun or humor

15 Concluding Thoughts n 1) Remember, that all variations of English are dialects—even “Standard English” –No one is “objectively” better than another n 2) These differences make America the most interesting and diverse country in the World –Do we really want all people to talk alike (talk like me)? –Are you ready to give up your Southern dialect (& culture)? –Why should white America expect blacks to give up theirs?

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