British Eubonics

Duane Campbell dcamp911 at JUNO.COM
Thu May 9 01:08:53 UTC 2002

I am addicted to Ground Force, a BBC gardening show carried here on
BBCAmerica and the best gardening show since Jim Crockett died twenty
years ago. (Try not to hyperventilate.) Their team goes into the yard of
some unsuspecting resident who has been lured away by friends or
relatives for two days and transforms their garden. One of the
interesting things about the show is the varied dialects found around the
British Isles, some of them nearly incomprehensible.

Some of the subjects have been Black Brits. A few months back there was a
discussion about linguistic profiling here. Regardless of the legal
issues, I think most of us can recognize a Black speaker with something
like 90 percent accuracy, regardless of what part of the country they
grew up in. A typical Black Alabaman is easily differentiated from a Good
Ol' Boy as is a Black NYC resident from a white Mahattanite of whater

I wondered how this worked in GB, and I asked a friend there. He said
that first generation was recognizable, but second generation was the
same as whatever region they came from.

Two questions. Is this true? Is there no British Ebonics, or does my
otherwise astute friend just have a tin ear. And second, if it is true,
why do Black Brits lose their differentiation by the second generation
while American Blacks remain recognizable for the most part after
multiple generations?

And incidentally, the context of the program seems to indicate that
Blacks there tend to live in largely Black neighborhoods and have Black


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