[Ads-l] "Crying Wolof" (UNCLASSIFIED)

Margaret Lee 0000006730deb3bf-dmarc-request at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU
Tue Mar 15 08:59:39 UTC 2016

Sorry, but these are not my words on 'bag.'  They belong to Zola Rice.  I know... sometimes we all look alike, even in print!  Just sayin' ;--)  And for the record, I do speak and understand AAV/AAVE/AAL/BE/BEV/BVE and Ebonics.
--Margaret Lee

       ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:      American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:      Z Rice <zrice3714 at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      Re: "Crying Wolof"
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Margaret, on "bag":
> bag:
> 1) habit; custom; tradition; way; way of life; something one does habitually; someone thing ONE ENJOYS
> 2) one's own skill, TALENT, or area of expertise; one's job= ; one's THING (in the song that you mention, he's
> saying he has a new "thing"...and he mentions several trendy dances or "new things" in the
> song.  However, I do not rely on songs to dig my own language...it is my birthright and I understand it naturally)

Are you saying here that you speak/understand Wolof, or that you speak/understand AAV?  Just curious . . .

> Wolof
> ba:x 'habit'; 'custom'; 'tradition'; 'a traditionally done thing' (Wolof standard orthography: baax g-)
> ba:xɔ 'to possess one's own gift' (DFW); 'to have (something) as a
> customary activity or practice' (Wolof standard orthography: baaxoo)

> Let's compare that with Wolof:
> Wolof
> mbaːxɛːl 'a moral value'....ultimately from Wolof baːx 'habit'; 'custom';

> 'tradition'; 'a traditionally done thing'
> (Wolof standard orthography: baax g-); Cf. Wolof ba:x 'morals (of a nation)' (Wolof standard orthography
> : baax y-)
> This is why “bag” also means for us, a “moral code” or “value”
> It is a myth that AAV is mutually intelligible with so-called Standard English, a theory strongly promoted by linguist John McWhorter. This
> exchange we're having is simple enough to illustrate that the two languages are NOT necessarily mutually intelligible, requiring code-
> switching on the part of native African-Americans who are actually speakers of the language to be fully and properly understood.
> Without songs and media, the gap in understanding (on the part of non-AAV
> speakers) would be even wider.

Is there a theory as to how "bag" in this sense lay dormant from the time Wolof ceased being a direct influence on the speech of enslaved
Africans in America (mid 19th century?) until it started showing up in AAV speech? (mid 20th century)?  Were people speaking Wolof in America all this
time? Was "bag" in use all this time, but unrecorded by scholars, or in the recorded speech of black people?


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