A Didactic Dialect

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Zora Neale Hurston's use of southern dialect has often been criticized for stereotyping the entire black population of the south. Many critics state that Hurston's makes the black population out to be uneducated when many were quite the opposite. Hurston's dialect was simply to make the novel much more realistic by respectfully showing the culture of the southern blacks. Although her language may have seen offensive, it is essential in defending against racism. The dialect in Their Eyes Were Watching God was described by Hurston on page 10 as "soft, easy phrases." Many of the vowel sounds are softened in each word. For example, "I" becomes "ah" and "th" turns into "f." Also, subject-verb agreement is often jumbled up, and irregular verbs are incorrectly made past with an "ed." With this kind of unsophisticated speech, it would be easy to place the dialect in a negative light, especially when used with the southern blacks. This dialect opened the door for many negative critics preaching how the dialect had a negative effect in the plight to end racism. Richard Wright states that Hurston's dialect is "simplistic" and that her only purpose in using it was to "make the white folks laugh". Richard Wright later goes on to insist that Hurston uses this bumbling, uneducated speech in portraying the black characters to please her white readers. In actuality, the author was not writing in a black dialect, but a southern one. Janie, Tea Cake, and even his white guards after the hurricane all speak in a similar dialect. However, as a child, Hurston explained that Janie grew up with white children. Since she grew up speaking a white dialect, there should not have been a difference between black and white speech. If there was, ... ... middle of paper ... ...hes a division between the races that later turns out to be artificial by proving that one's race does not define his identity. The dialect was also very entertaining to the reader; it allowed Hurston's audience to more closely connect with the story's authentic language. Works Cited Hurston, Zora N. "Reading: "The Characteristics of Negro Expression"" Harlem Renaissance Rutgers ENG 368. 15 Apr. 2014 . Hurston, Zora Neale. Their eyes were watching God. New York: Perennial Library, 1990. Locke, Alain. "Wright Reviews Hurston." Wright Reviews Hurston. 14 Apr. 2014 . Wright, Richard. "Wright Reviews Hurston." Wright Reviews Hurston. 14 Apr. 2014 .
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