This classic text by Geneva Smitherman, pioneering scholar of Black Talk, is a definitive statement on African American Language (AAL). Enriched by her inimitable writing style, the book outlines past debates on the speech of African Americans and provides a vision for the future. As global manifestations of AAL increase, she argues that we must broaden our conception of the language and its speakers, and further examine the implications of gender, age and class on AAL. Perhaps most of all we must appreciate the "artistic and linguistic genius" of AAL, from Hip Hop lyrics to the rhyme and rhetoric of the broader Black speech community. 

Smitherman explores AAL's contribution to American English, includes a summary of expressions as a suggested linguistic core of AAL, and features cartoons that educate readers on the broader relationship between language, race, and racism. This classic edition features a new foreword by H. Samy Alim, celebrating Smitherman's continuing impact on Black Language scholarship and her influence on the future of the field.

Word from the Mother is an essential read for students of African American speech, language, culture and sociolinguistics, as well as the general reader interested in the worldwide "crossover" of Black popular culture.

chapter 1|22 pages

African American Language

So good it's bad

chapter 3|18 pages

The N-words

chapter 4|22 pages

Honeyz and Playaz 1 Talkin that Talk

chapter 5|30 pages

“I used to love H.E.R.”

Hip Hop, in its Essence and Real

chapter 6|16 pages

“All Around the World, Same Song” 1