Word from the Mother presents a definitive statement on African American English from the hugely respected linguist, Geneva Smitherman; her message is clear: black American speech enriches, rather than undermines, general American English.
Written with flashes of African American language throughout, the work gives an overview of past debates on the speech of African Americans, and provides a vision for the future. Demonstrating the stark contrast between the perceptions of the language from those outside the community, with the views of African Americans, the author explores the relationship between language and race, and the reflection of gender in language practices.
From her discussion on rhyme and rhetoric in the black speech community, to the summary of African American idioms and expressions, Geneva Smitherman argues that 'bilingualism' is necessary for all Americans if they are to take their place in the global village.
Including cartoons, poetry and hip hop lyrics which humorously illustrate her argument, Word from the Mother is a an essential read for students of African American English, language and culture and sociolinguistics, as well as the general reader interested in the worldwide adoption of black popular culture.