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Athens Screening of 'Talking Black in America' Documentary

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Athens-area residents are invited to attend a screening of ‘Talking Black in America,’ this evening.

The screening is presented by the Athens branch of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, the UGA libraries, and UGA Institute for African American studies.

Dr. Jon Forrest is a professor of Linguistics at UGA. He says the language’s effect on culture and mainstream speech is much more than slang.

“It’s patterned; it’s very deeply patterned in ways that people don’t recognize beyond just like I use a different word for a thing. There are ways to communicate how far in the past that you’ve done something, whether or not you’re still doing it now and like other things that English doesn’t normally indelicate that African American language can indicate with a lot more fine-grained clarity that people don’t always recognize.”

He says the habitual be is a great example of that.

“If I say like, ‘he be workin’ at the store,’ that’s an example in African-American language and that says, a lot of people will be like, oh they’re just using be and not conjugating the verb, but what’s really going on is when you use that be, you’re saying this person is working at the store, they’ve done it in the past and they’re continuing to do so now. And you’ve said all that with two letters.”

The screening is 6 o’ clock at the Athens Library.