Saturday, March 10, 2012

Puttin On The Black - Viewer Comments About A Patti Labelle Video

Edited by Azizi Powell

This is Part II of a three part series on using African American English on purpose in YouTube videos viewer comment threads.

Part I of this series provides an overview of what I call "Puttin On The Black".

Click for Part 1 of this series.

Part III of this video focuses on the use of examples of "puttin on the Black" (African American vernacular) in the comment threads of two videos about the Black originated body gesture "side eye" ("cut eyes"). Click for Part III of this series.

Disclaimer: I'm not a linguist. I'm an African American who is interested in the use of language. Comments about this topic from linguists and others are very welcome.

This post focuses on the use of "puttin on the Black" (African American vernacular) in selected viewer comments from a Patti Labelle video.

"Puttin on the Black" is a term that I coined for the conscious use of Black venacular in certain settings. My definition of "puttin on the Black" is "to purposely use Black vernacular to signal to others (including other Black people who may be present) that you are Black, and/or to show off your Blackness". I'm particularly interested in the use of Black vernacular by bloggers & person who add comments to YouTube video comment threads. I believe that using Black vernacular is one way that people online can signal that they are Black without directly identifying themselves using a racial referent.

"Puttin on the Black" is the conscious, often prideful, and usually fun use of Black vernacular. That usage is in stark contrast with the act of purposely hiding one's identification as an African American culture by consciously refraining from using any Black slang, Black sayings, or Black grammatical constructs, unless that African American orignated vernacular has been widely accepted by the mainstream American culture.

This post showcases a video of Patti Labelle and features selected viewer comments from that video's viewer comment thread that I believe are examples of "puttin on the Black".

Patti - Never Walk Alone - Motown (High Quality)

Uploaded by ramsdenrik on Dec 15, 2008

As Seen On: Maybe it's just me...
Rare - Patti Labelle sings You'll never Walk Alone at motown returns to the apollo, Digitally Enahanced for High Qaulity.

Warning: Some comments on this YouTube viewer comment thread contain profanity and therefore may be inappropriate for children.


"cant nobody do it like Ms Patti you betta sang mama!"

Editor: Notice the run-on sentence and relative lack of capitalization. This is representative of a lot of text messaging and internet blogging where speed is much more highly valued than punctuation or other grammatical rules.

"Sang" here means "sing very well". It is not the past tense of "sing".

I noticed a number of bloggers on that particular viewer comment thread and other Patti Labelle videos used a title with Patti Labelle's first name (such as Miss Patti, Ms Patti, and Mama Patti). This custom isn't necessarily an example of "puttin on the Black". Instead, I think it's an example of everyday African American English where a title is used to address an elder and/or show respect for the person who is so referred.

"LOL cut up girl!"

"WANTED,The POLICE,FBI CIA. and INTERPOOL, are all looking for patty,she is a bad.baddd girl,OMG WOOO"

"Does anyone else realize that Patti's voice is more powerful than the choir and Mavis Staples, Al Green and Little Richard combined!!!!!!  Woooooow!!

Take us to church Miss Patti."

Ms. Patti singing...Billy Preston on the piano....YAAASSSS!

{Note that "YAAASSSS!" isn't a typo. It's a purposely variant spelling for "Yes". The additional letters mean that the word when pronounced is elongated, and the word's meaning is intensified).


LET THE LORD USE YA!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

"This is whats called Sangin !"

..."Gone are the true singers that use to rivals anything but a God Given Talent, and today we are left with Striptease and Pole dancers. Back then i knew couldn't make it in show business because as much as I knew i could sing. I knew i couldn't "SANGGGGG". Anybody can be a star today...just bring your Auto-tune and you're good to go!!!!"

"@EyeLook2U u know u tellin' the truth; i don't think we'll ever see a performance of this magnitude from any performer in this life time. loooooooves me some patti."



["Jesus, Praise the Lord!"]

"I am 40 years old and I saw this the day that it aired.....this is one of my favorite performances by Patti Labelle....and it still has the same affect that it had on me so many years ago....I love u Patti...u r one of the last real singers left....this is when choirs really sang like this....I give a big shout out to Tucker Baptist Church back in the know that u did your thing!

My thanks to the performers, the video uploader, and the featured commenters.

Thank you for visiting pancocojams.

Viewer comments are welcome.

1 comment:

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