question about African-American mimicry

James C Stalker stalker at MSU.EDU
Thu May 3 03:46:32 UTC 2007

You might look at Wolfram and Schilling-Estes work on performance dialects.
They use the label for exaggerated versions of native dialects rather than
exaggerated versions of other dialects, but you might be able to do some
redefining.  Michael Montgomery has done some work on this as well (too, but
not either).


Darla Wells writes:

> 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."
>  Darla
> 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 -

James C. Stalker
Department of English
Michigan State University

The American Dialect Society -

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