For so long, what’s been considered “Talking Black” is actually a systematic language with a grammar structure that many of us begin learning from childhood. Here are three ways Black language is beautifully nuanced.
We grew up with our mamas telling us to “watch our tone” because tone is everything in African American Language (AAL). As Educational Consultant Conscious Lee explains, we can say the phrase, “you good?” in various tones, and each could have a different meaning, from reassurance to curiosity.
One of AAL’s most distinctive features is the addition, subtraction, or replacement of keywords, vowels, and consonants, called verb conjugation. This can look like excluding the “is” or “are” from a sentence when speaking in the present tense, yet the sentence’s meaning doesn’t change.
Black folks are spread out across the US, and in every state, city, or community, there are local dialects of AAL spoken. People in the Low Country of South Carolina speak differently than those in Baltimore.
Our language is a beautiful reminder of all that we are: nuanced, creative, and expressive people. That is something to be proud of, always.