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«I can look through muddy water»

Analyzing Earlier African American English in Blues Lyrics (BLUR)


Ulrich Miethaner

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.

BIC Classifications

  • The arts (A)
    • Music (AV)
      • Theory of music & musicology (AVA)
  • Language (C)
    • linguistics (CF)
      • Sociolinguistics (CFB)
      • Historical & comparative linguistics (CFF)
  • English language teaching (ELT) (E)
    • ELT background & reference material (EB)

BISAC Classifications

  • Foreign Language Study (FOR)
    • FOREIGN LANGUAGE STUDY / English as a Second Language (FOR007000)
  • Language Arts & Disciplines (LAN)
    • LANGUAGE ARTS & DISCIPLINES / General (LAN000000)
    • LANGUAGE ARTS & DISCIPLINES / Linguistics / General (LAN009000)
  • Music (MUS)
    • MUSIC / General (MUS000000)

THEMA Classifications

  • The Arts (A)
    • Music (AV)
      • Theory of music & musicology (AVA)
  • Language & Linguistics (C)
    • Linguistics (CF)
      • Sociolinguistics (CFB)
      • Historical & comparative linguistics (CFF)
  • Reference, Information & Interdisciplinary subjects (G)
    • Interdisciplinary studies (GT)
      • Regional studies (GTM)
  • Society & Social Sciences (J)
    • Society & culture: general (JB)
      • Cultural & media studies (JBC)
        • Cultural studies (JBCC)
    • Sociology & anthropology (JH)
      • Sociology (JHB)
  • Geographical qualifiers (1)
    • Europe (1D)
      • Western Europe (1DD)
        • United Kingdom, Great Britain (1DDU)
    • The Americas (1K)
      • North America (USA & Canada) (1KB)
  • Language qualifiers (2)
    • Indo-European languages (2A)
      • Germanic & Scandinavian languages (2AC)
        • English (2ACB)