Slave Narratives – Negro Dialect Suggestions

Sent to: North and South Carolina, Georgia,
Alabama, Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas,
Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri,
Mississippi, Oklahoma.

April 14, 1937

Mr. Edwin Bjorkman
State Director, Federal Writers’ Project
Works Progress Administration
City Hall, Fifth Floor
Asheville, North Carolina

Dear Mr. Bjorkman:

We have received more stories of ex-slaves and are gratified by the quality and interest of the narratives. Some of these stories have been accompanied by photographs of the subjects. We would like to have portraits wherever they can be secured, but we urge your photographers to make the studies as simple, natural, and “unposed” as possible. Let the background, cabin or whatnot, be the normal setting—in short, just the picture a visitor would expect to find by “dropping in” on one of these old-timers.

Enclosed is a memorandum of Mr. Lomax with suggestions for simplifying the spelling of certain recurring dialect words. This does not mean that the interviews should be entirely in “straight English”—simply, that we want them to be more readable to those uninitiated in the broadest Negro speech.

Very truly yours,

George Cronyn
Associate Director
Federal Writers’ Project

GWCronyn:MEB

This paragraph was added to the letter to Arkansas.

Mr. Lomax is very eager to get such records as you mention: Court Records of Sale, Transfer, and Freeing of Slaves, as well as prices paid.

Negro Dialect Suggestions
(Stories of Ex-Slaves)

Do not write:

Ah for I

Poe for po’ (poor)

Hit for it

Tuh for to

Wuz for was

Baid for bed

Daid for dead

Ouh for our

Mah for my

Ovah for over

Othuh for other

Wha for whar (where)

Undah for under

Fuh for for

Yondah for yonder

Moster for marster or massa

Gwainter for gwineter (going to)

Oman for woman

Ifn for iffen (if)

Fiuh or fiah for fire

Uz or uv or o’ for of

Poar for poor or po’

J’in for jine

Coase for cose

Utha for other

Yo’ for you

Gi’ for give

Cot for caught

Kin’ for kind

Cose for ’cause

Tho’t for thought

 



MLA Source Citation:

Federal Writers' Project. WPA Slave Narratives. Web. 2007. AccessGenealogy.com. Web. 28 August 2014. http://www.accessgenealogy.com/black-genealogy/slave-narratives-negro-dialect-suggestions.htm - Last updated on Mar 1st, 2013


Categories:
Topics: ,

Contribute to the Conversation!

Our "rules" are simple. Keep the conversation on subject and mind your manners! If this is your first time posting, we do moderate comments before we let them appear... so give us a while to get to them. Once we get to know you here, we'll remove that requirement.

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Newsletter Signup

We currently provide two newsletters. Why not take both for a run?

Genealogy Update: We send out this newsletter whenever we feature a new, or significantly updated, collection or database on our website.

Circle of Nations: We send out this newsletter whenever we feature a new (or significantly updated) Native American collection or database on our website.

Once you've clicked on the Subscribe button above you'll receive an email from us requesting confirmation. You must confirm the email before you will be able to receive any newsletter.