This project will produce a four-part mini-series on African American Language (AAL) designed for television broadcast as well as for formal and informal public educational distribution. This mini-series addresses the social, cultural, and educational issues related to the most prominent, the most controversial, and the most misunderstood dialect in the history of American English--African American Language. Dialect prejudice, linguistic profiling, and language-based discrimination continue to be "so commonly accepted, so widely perceived as appropriate, that it must be seen as the last back door to discrimination. And the door is still wide open" (Lippi-Green 2012:73). By presenting the history, development, diversity, and symbolic role of language in the lives of African Americans, this documentary series helps to counteract the persistent misinformation and misinterpretation circulated about the language of African Americans. The series builds on the popular public reception to the one-hour documentary, Talking Black in America: The Story of African American Language, and includes the following episodes: 1) the historical and contemporary development of African American Language; 2) the diversity of language use among African Americans based on region, age, status, education, and style; 3) the use of language in expressive performance, including preaching, comedy, music, hip hop, spoken word, and other expressive genres; and 4) the role of language differences in educational achievement. A website accompanying the series will include a variety of educational resources, including streaming, discursive chapters with integrated vignettes from the episodes, additional commentary and background, activities, and discussion questions for each episode, with further online materials for education. The documentary and accompanying activities constitute an important milestone in the effort to educate the public about language diversity in American society.
No dialect in the history of American English has been more prominent, more controversial, and more misunderstood than African American Language, and dialect prejudice, linguistic profiling, and language discrimination still intensely affect speakers of this variety. By presenting the history, development, diversity, and symbolic role of language in the lives of African Americans, this documentary series will help to counteract the persistent misinformation circulated about African American Language. This series and the accompanying online materials offer an important milestone in the effort to educate the public about language diversity that can help to reduce linguistic discrimination in American society.
This project is funded by the National Science Foundation's (NSF's) Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL) program, which supports innovative research, approaches, and resources for use in a variety of learning settings.
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