Analysis Essay on The Lesson and African American Vernacular English
Uploaded by amillion12000 on Apr 30, 2007
Speech Equals Class: an analysis of the correlation between African American Vernacular English in “The Lesson” and social status
"Get at me" which in short translates as "talk to you later" is just one term from many in African American Vernacular English, also known as AAVE. This language is a tool that can be crafted to take on many different forms. It may not be an easily understood tongue but once it is deciphered AAVE can be used as a tool to make more comprehendible certain life lessons. In the short story authored by Toni Cade Bambara entitled "The Lesson", the use of African American Vernacular English makes evident the inequity between social classes. AAVE does not just accompany this finding, but also makes it more presentable to an audience that can connect with AAVE due to personal situations and invites those that may be ignorant to the terminology inside the minds of characters such as Sylvia, "Fat boy" or Rosie Giraffe to name a few. Language has power to do many things and here it shines a light on various inequities that are evident between social classes within the society of this story.
The reading begins by setting a stage for the reader. We commence in an apartment complex in New York that seems to be very torn down and aged. Many of the Children around are using a quantity of slang terminology; for example [... "and pissed on our handball walls and stank up our hallways and stairs so you couldn't halfway play hide-and-seek without a goddamn gas mask."(662) anyone that hears a phrase like this coming from a youth could only imagine the upbringing that the child has or the type of household that her or she resides in. In society one is moved to believe that when anyone speaks severely broken English or is unruly that their economic ranking is on the lower end of the scale. African American Vernacular English is a language that at times does reinforce the belief stated in the previous sentence, but one could also argue that the way one speaks has nothing to do with their financial background or social status and that a person just speaks how they speak.