Afro-American Folksongs - online book

A Study In Racial And National Music, With Sample Sheet Music & Lyrics.

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rhythmical effect. Mr. Allen gives an example of the euphonic n: "He de baddes' little gal from yere to 'Europe"; the interjection of a, as in "settin' side-a ob de holy Lamb," is very common.
There were contractions which scarcely call for comment, in view of what still happens every day among cultured white people in colloquial speech. The progress of "How do you do?" through "How d'ye do?" and "Howdy'?" to "Huddy" is very patent, and we can scarcely deplore it in view of the singularly mellifluous and brisk line "Tell my Jesus huddy O." The grammatical simplifications were natural enoughin a people who hadtospeak alanguagewhich they were not permitted to learn to read or write. Em was a pronoun which applied to all genders and both numbers; been and done as the past tenses of verbs are familiar to-day among other than the blacks in the South, as are many other peculiarities of grammar of which we cannot say whether the slaves borrowed them from the illiterate whites or the whites from them.
It is perhaps a little singular, though not impossible of explanation, that the negroes who came under the domination of the French colonists of Louisiana and the West Indies should have developed a patois or dialect, which is not only more euphonious than the language from which it was derived, but also have created a system of grammar which reflects credit upon their logical capacity and their musical instincts. The peculiarities of the English songs referred to are nearly all extinct, but the creole patois, though never reduced to writing for its users, is still a living language. It is the medium of communica­tion between black nurses and their charges in the French families of Louisiana to-day, 'and half a century ago it was exclusively spoken by French Creoles up to the age of ten or twelve years. In fact, children had to be weaned from it with bribes or punishment. It was, besides, the language which the slave spoke to his master and the master to him. The need which created it was the same as that which created the corrupt English of the slaves in other parts of the country. The Africans who were brought
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E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III