Penn State

Elaine B. Richardson - Associate Professor of English and Applied Linguistics, Penn State University Park

Book Title: Talkin and Testifyin: The Language of Black America

Author: Geneva Smitherman

Book Description:

Because I came from a family where my parents did not have an opportunity to gain a quality education and because my parents spoke a creole English, which my school system did not address positively in the educational process, my first few semesters of college were filled with episodes of linguistic discrimination. In my quest to learn as much as I could about my family background, our ways of speaking and the history of Black education and literacy, I became an English major. On my journey, I met Geneva Smitherman's Talkin and Testifyin. In a sense, that book saved my life. It was the first time that I read or even heard somewhere that what Black people spoke was a treasure, that it had a history behind it, not just any old history either. I found out that African American language has rules. That African American language is a part of African American history, a part of African American cultural and intellectual heritage. I always thought deep inside that I was smart, or at the least, not dumb, and Smitherman's book confirmed it for me.

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