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Dillard's Black English in 1972 changed thinking about that ""substandard"" variety by linking it to the pidgins and Creoles that sprang up around European commerce in the 17th century. It was radical to a dizzying degree, for pidgins and Creoles are a relatively new study that threatens to upset hallowed linguistic theories; they are, if not the tongues of the oppressed, at least languages of those who did not have the advantage in ""contact situations,"" so that any attitude toward them is inevitably political; they point to radical changes in classroom practice; and, just as important, they open the way to a drastically adjusted view of history. They are not the only ""contact"" language forms that have figured in the American experience; and Dillard here expands his inquiry to include a variety of related linguistic processes and the transmissions that occurred as immigrants, migrants, frontiersmen and merchants enriched our speechways. From this vantage we see the ""forces of linguistic respectability"" defending the British settlers' koine -- a leveled dialect that was well established in two generations, and from which regional dialects emerged -- against corruptions from, say, American Indian pidgin, Plantation Creole and the heterodoxies of frontier whites. We also see how similar processes continue, following America's career as a world power, to shape ""American"" as a worldwide lingua franca. Flamboyant and provocative, with a wide spectrum of interests, and an excellent bibliography.

Pub Date: April 15th, 1975
Publisher: Random House