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Black English and The Mass Media

Based upon a thorough understanding of the evolution of Black English and the development of American culture, Black English and the Mass Media integrates mass communications / journalism and linguistics within a broad theoretical and historical framework.

From analysis of the mass media, Dr. Brasch develops a major new theory to explain the historical development of Black English, which he identifies as a valid dialect, and to present a hypothesis that may explain historical development of genre.

Extensive description and analysis of data from the mass media justify the Cycle Theory of American Black English. According to Dr. Brasch, concern for American Black English falls within five separate and distinct cycles--each of which existed for twenty-five to forty years--with a peak period near the mid-point of the cycle and followed by an intercycle of between ten and twenty years. He contends that each cycle not only contained a greater volume of materials than the previous cycle but was dominated by a different genre from that of the previous cycle-just as the mass media were dominated by different genres at various times.       

The cycles are identified as the Colonial-Revolutionary Cycle (ca. 1765 - ca. 1800), the Antebellum Cycle (ca. 1820-ca. 1860), the Reconstruction Cycle (ca. 1867 - ca. 1902), the Negro Renaissance Cycle (ca. 1915 - ca. 1940), and the Civil Rights Cycle (ca. 1958 - ca. mid-1980s). A sixth cycle and subsequent ones are predicted.
Critical Acclaim
According to Dr. Carroll E. Reed, former president of the American Dialect Society, “This book should receive a hearty welcome from journalists, linguists, historians, sociologists, educators, and students of American folklore and literature. It will be praised, read with interest, quoted, and sometimes bitterly attacked, but it will stand as a unique source of information and controversy.”

    Among the many academic reviews: Choice (“The book’s content is intriguing and important in the field of dialect study”), Library Journal (“A useful book for both academic and public libraries”), Language in Society (“Brasch has collected an impressive amount of material and presents it in a readable and very useful book, particularly for the general audience whose members will find informative the combination of details about Black English and the views of the mass media in reporting those details . . . In terms of the study of Black English, Brasch’s five cycle [theory] is detailed and informative for the language scholar, as well as the general public.”), Language Learning (“An exciting history of and meticulous research in the black language . . . A valuable contribution to the literature on Black English. This text is a must for the serious student of black language.”), American Speech (“Its underlying premise is important and merits being taken seriously . . . it is filled with thought-provoking bits of information”), Linguistics (“an excellent reference book on the development of Black English language and literature in the United States”), Language Learning ([An] excellent history of the meticulous research in the black language . . . [It] is a valuable contribution to the literature on Black English . . . This text is a must for the serious student on black language.”), American Review of Anthropology (“Brasch has opened an important new area of study in this field. [His] work is scholarly, although it could be managed by the general reader”), Lore and Language (“In a convinced and convincing argument, [Dr. Brasch] traces the cycles of interest in and concern for this linguistic usage. [It is] a challenging and useful study.”), International Journal of Creole Studies (A significant work of scholarship.”), Journal of Communication (“Well written historical summary in non-technical language of the speech of black Americans. A good summary for readers from other disciplines, especially mass communication.”), Sage Race Relations Abstracts (“An interesting and thought-provoking study.”), Melus; The Journal of Multi-ethnic Literature in America (“An important study, and a valuable reference work.”), Los Angeles Times (“A thoughtful, carefully researched volume by one who is both a journalist and a scholar.”), American Literature (“A rich range of knowledge, historical as well as literary [with an ]overall effect [that] is readable and educative.”), Journal of American Culture (“This study is both intellectual and perceptive. It is a work of substance that is at the same time really good reading. It locates Black English in the culture of America with a nice balance of summary overview, technical analysis, competent research, sympathetic concern, objective review and calm judgment . . . This book has application to an extraordinary number of separate disciplines and interests. It will be needed for American culture studies, American literature, Black culture, Black literature, journalism, media study, cultural history, sociology, linguistics, folklore and more”). This book had also received numerous favorable reviews in the general trade press, including the Pittsburgh Press, Atlanta Constitution, and Denver Post.

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