Linguistic Identity and the Role of Ebonics in African American Literary Experience

Blossom Shimayam Ottoh-Agede, Ako Essien-Eyo


In time past, Ebonics, like other World Pidgins, was not given research consideration by scholars. However, in recent times there is a plethora of research in the area. Although, research by scholars in the area of its syntax, phonology, semantics and morphology is diverse, our task in this study is to interrogate the role of Ebonics (Black English) in the creation of a racist and feminist society like Walker’s and Angelou’s societies in The color purple and I know why the caged bird sings. This article explores not only the linguistic emancipation of Black English but also its role in resisting white power and white cultural ascendancy as well as male dominance in American society in general. The paper analyzes the peculiarities and characteristics of Ebonics in two selected female writings of Alice Walker and Maya Angelou and concludes that the female artists have recreated a new perspective to the definition of the African American Vernacular by innovatively invoking it as a tool for reenacting the Black female story. The study also portends that Walker and Angelou have emphasized their strength as Black people and Black females in a ‘New World’ rather than looking at the negative side of their dilemma. The focus here is on the language of Walker and Angelou, and how best they mobilize linguistic tools to convey meaning and portray linguistic identity. Convenience was found in a somewhat eclectic approach by borrowing tools from two linguistic theories, M.A.K Halliday’s Systemic Functional Linguistics and Noam Chomsky’s Transformational Generative Grammar, though our main theoretical orientation is the Systemic Functional Linguistics.

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International Journal of English Language Teaching ISSN 2329-7913 (Print) ISSN 2329-7921 (Online)

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