From Library Journal
Noted for her best-selling Black Talk, Smitherman (English, Michigan State) explores the state of "Ebonics," a controversial black dialect that caused a stir in the media not too long ago. In these essays she writes about the African American oral tradition and the influence of rap and hip hop on black language.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Linguist Smitherman provides valuable insights into the controversies regarding Ebonics, Black English or dialect, depending on political as well as linguistic perspective. She offers a detailed analysis of what Ebonics is, its long history (despite impressions that it's a new phenomenon), and its ties to the languages of West Africa and the culture of Africans in the Americas. Smitherman also provides social, historical, and cultural background that has resulted in an Africanized English that is widely spoken in the black community today. She explores the influences of class and racial politics on school reforms aimed at promoting the use of Standard English and standardized tests to measure academic skills, and the associated cultural biases of such efforts. Smitherman's writing style incorporates both Standard English and Ebonics to demonstrate the fluidity of language in general, and specifically the easy interchange between the two, an interchange routinely conducted by many African Americans. Vanessa Bush