New Documentary Film on the Importance of African American Speech

North Carolina State University recently premiered a new documentary film that examines the history of African American speech, its cultural importance, and how African American speech has shaped modern American English.

Walt Wolfram, the William C. Friday Distinguished University Professor is the executive producer of the film and the director of the Language and Life Project at the university. The film – Talking Black in America – is the culmination of five decades of research by Dr. Wolfram.

Professor Wolfram stated that “there has never been a documentary devoted exclusively to African American speech, even though it’s the most researched – and controversial – collection of dialects in the United States and has contributed more than any other variety to American English. The status of African American speech has been controversial for more than a half-century now, suffering from persistent public misunderstanding, linguistic profiling, and language-based discrimination. We wanted to address that and, on a fundamental level, make clear that understanding African American speech is absolutely critical to understanding the way we talk today.”

A trailer for the film can be viewed below.

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