«I can look through muddy water»

Analyzing Earlier African American English in Blues Lyrics (BLUR)

by Ulrich Miethaner (Author)
Thesis 248 Pages


With its 1.5 million words BLUR is the biggest electronic corpus of nonstandard English. The present study describes the stages in the design, the compilation, and the editing of BLUR and attempts to gauge its linguistic profit. This is done both from a theoretical perspective – blues poetry vs. natural speech, representativeness, validity – and from an analytical perspective in particular qualitative, quantitative, and comparative analyses of morphological, morphosyntactic, and syntactic features. The findings indicate that BLUR provides an outstandingly rich and reliable documentation of the vernaculars spoken by African Americans between the Civil War and World War II. The more than 1,000 illustrative examples presented throughout this study attest to the correctness of this statement.


ISBN (Softcover)
Frankfurt am Main, Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Wien, 2005. 247 pp., num. tables and graphs

Biographical notes

Ulrich Miethaner (Author)

The Author: Ulrich Miethaner, born in 1969 in Kötzting, studied from 1989 to 1997 English and History in Regensburg and Boulder, Colorado. From 1997 to 2002 he was Research Assistant at the University of Regensburg. Since 2002 he is grammar school teacher for English and History.


Title: «I can look through muddy water»