So I sat in my house late this evening, mimicking the voices I heard in “Sanford and Son,” “Good Times,” “The Jefferson’s,” and all the other 70’s television shows I remember watching (don’t judge me). I found it interesting how men and women alike seemed to hold out their vowels in their nasal cavities until the sound pierced and scattered the air. Even men with the deepest voices somehow found a pitch in the lower register that could cut. From my couch, I spoke like this lady I remember hearing speak in some court case on television. I’m not sure what it was about. I just remember that whatever I was watching had that old seventies haze about it. I emphasized my Iiiiiii’s and e’s in reeeeeeally. And when I said all, I remembered how Louise Jefferson called her husband, Geoooooorge, and my all came out something like auuuuuwl. And after several like exercises, I realized that the vernacular of Blacks in the seventies required much more investment from the mouth’s muscles than does our current one.
One day, I will be old, and people will be puzzled by the way I used to speak. In fact, I know that there are some linguists and anthropologists studying the dialect of Black-twenty-something-single-American-women right now.