General News “There were only two roads coming into town when I moved in.” June 15, 2009 Waldo Jaquith 11 Comments I like this story about 100-year-old Pernetha Gilbert. She speaks Gullah!
11 thoughts on ““There were only two roads coming into town when I moved in.””
I have such admiration for Pernetha and her willingness to speak the truth. She is an excellent role model
Some of the gullah language has pretty much been accepted by today’s youth as correct English now. Words such as “dis” (this), “da” (the), and “dat” (that). It’s pretty comical listening to people talk about dis and dat. I saw a state employment application not long ago that included these words. I don’t think the applicant knew any better.
I believe you mean “standard” English, not “correct”.
There are no proscribed “correct” ways that English is meant to be spoken or written, unless you are referring to specific styles as would be used in journalism, or socially accepted conventions, as would be used in an interview.
Unlike French, we have no official board which sets a proscribed standard. (Otherwise, we’d all be speaking British English…) Therefore, Gullah, and other dialects are all equally “correct” as long as the speakers are understood clearly by their intended audience.
In fact, some of the most authentic English speakers in the U.S. can be found on the Eastern Shore of Virginia.
Demopublican: No, those forms haven’t been adopted into Standard American English, but they’re certainly part of Black English Vernacular, which is probably what you are hearing. The latter has been around for a while, though—this is nothing new.
Interesting, Tim. If a little white 16 year old gangsta wannabe is walking around trying to pull his pants back up with every other step he takes, and talking “dis” and “dat”, is it still considered to be part of the Black English Vernacular? I am under the impression it’s not really a black vs white thing any longer.
There are lots of words used by people of European ancestory that have origins in Black English Vernacular. This is just how language works.
Each new generation will be outraged by how the new generation is corrupting the language, but then it will become the new standard. There are all kinds of words and phrases that my grandmother finds offensive that are in regular speach now, and that no one even thinks about anymore (like the word “guy”)
There is a such thing as just being lazy or lacking in ability in terms of language usage, but that would apply equally to any group of people. I once read a really hilarious essay written by an engineering student at Virginia Tech, which had prases like “The moth wasn’t alive, it was dead.”
Anyone who believes there were only 2 roads into town 100 years ago may have memory or perception issues, as a glance at old maps makes clear.
Demopublican: Yes, the term “Black English Vernacular” is definitely a misnomer, but probably no more so than “African American”. Race is but one correlate with BEV; social class and economic status are others. I’ve also heard it called “inner-city English”, which you may find more accurate.
And there are ,or at least were, remnants of the Elizabethian dialect in the Appalachians.
I once had an aunt who was uneducated almost totally. Yet she would sometimes use the phrase “his cake was dough.” Found out this comes from Shakespeare. Somewhere in her backwoods growing-up she must have heard somehow heard this phrase from an older person and picked it up.
The article says that there were 2 roads into Cville sometime during or after WWII, not 100 years ago when Mrs. Gilbert was born.
I saw Willard Scott say her name. I hope he pronounced it correctly.
The heck with all of you.
Happy Birthday to a grand lady!!!
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