question about African-American mimicry

Darla Wells dlw3208 at LOUISIANA.EDU
Wed May 2 17:02:36 UTC 2007

Is there a linguistic term for speech that is altered in pitch and tone to
make fun of other people's speech and mannerisms? I am hunting for a reference
because I am writing about an instance of it in a rap song, "99 Problems." In
"99 Problems" Jay-Z gets stopped by a white cop and the performance is one in
which he overpronounces his word endings and vowels and nasalizes the whole
speech and drags it out. I have run across a description of this before in
Keith Basso's work with Native Americans making fun of whites'speech but can't
remember if there is a term for it. If there is, I am also wondering who
writes about such. I don't remember seeing a bunch of that kind of thing until
the show Fresh Prince of Bel-Air came on in the early 90's. They have the
wimpy little  rich guy talking like that and are always making fun of him
because he is so preppy and always "acting white."


With magic, you can turn a frog into a prince. With science, you can turn a
 frog into a Ph.D and you still have the frog you started with. (Terry Pratchett)

The American Dialect Society -

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