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Freedom To Change Essay

1536 words - 6 pages

Linguistic innovation is a crucial component in Hip-Hop or Rap music and in everyday life. As Curzan and Adams mention in How English Works, there are an infinite number of possible utterances one can create from the English language. Therefore, who determines what is acceptable and what is not? Over the centuries, language has changed because of different influences. For example, Hip-Hop and Rap music emerged when African Americans used it as an expression of their struggle against oppression and economic limitations. These changes may be acceptable in some circles, but are frowned upon by the society that judges a person by the way they speak. We the people change the English language and no authority can control those changes. The use of double negatives, “incorrect” grammar, and finding new meanings and contexts for words happens in everyday life; this does not take away from the understanding and communication—that is what is important.
Niggas in Paris by Jay-Z and Kayne begins with an utterance, “so I ball so hard motherfuckers wanna fine me” (1). Jay-Z has uses “ball” in an entirely different context and thus changes the meaning of the word. Language mavens would find this use of “ball” unacceptable. has many definitions of ball, but none corresponds to what Jay-Z is communicating. In this context, “ball” means to have a great time, and to add emphasis he says that he balls hard. This indicates that he is going all out in the way he is partying. According to Curzan and Adams, the “language mavens,” are those people who we trust to tell us what is proper and acceptable, especially in writing (33). These “language mavens” would be lost as to the message the lyrics are conveying. He continues by saying, “…this shit gravy” (7). The meaning of the word gravy is twisted, normally gravy would refer to juices from meat made into a sauce, but here he uses it to say everything is fine, or the situation is to his advantage. One who was raised to use “proper” English would make an incorrect inference and thus interpret the line incorrectly. The ugly “ain’t” appears quite a few times, “[L]anguage authorities now regularly condemn the word as “vulgar,” ignorant,” “uneducated,” or worse” (40). The text continues to explain that the word an’t emerged at the end of the seventeenth century as a contraction for am not and are not, then later is not and has not. Curzan and Adams state that one reason for the negative perception of the use of “ain’t” may be that it does not “correspond to all the forms to which it is a contraction…[but]one could make a similar point about the contraction won’t” (40). Grammatically the word is correct, yet it still represents ignorance when used in certain circles. This also portrays the power of language; the mere fact that you use a certain word can cause another person to place you in a certain social class and status.
The use of contractions already shortens two words, but the changes go further by even...

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