Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Book Review: Historically Black Phrases

Black vernacular doesn’t often get its due—despite its enormous influence on mainstream culture—but Historically Black Phrases is here to give Black language its flowers. A celebration of more than two hundred staples of Black conversation—from church sayings and units of measure to compliments and reprimands—this sharp and witty guide explores the unique importance of Black expression and communication. It offers definitions and notable pop culture moments, as well as tips on pronunciation and usage of phrases. In addition to the phrases, short essays offer insight on different facets of Black language from scholars, entertainers, and pop culture commentators.

Authors, journalists, and hosts of the award-winning podcast FANTI, jarrett hill and Tre’vell Anderson examine each phrase with humor and cultural precision, making Historically Black Phrases a vital ode to how Black language influences the world.

Prior to the September 19, 2023, publication, Clarkson Potter/Ten Speed Press provided an early galley for review.

Seeing the title and description of this one, I felt I had to check it out. Lifelong dabbler in writing myself, I am always interested in language, phrases and learning the history behind them. While some of these were very familar to me, there were ones that I was learning about for the first time.

The phrases are grouped into thematic categories like "cautions and warnings", "consequences and repercussions", "gossip and storytelling", "inspiring and affirming" and more. Then each phrase is presented, followed by pronunciation (if needed), translation, usage and an example. This makes things easy to understand. The presentation is very clean and organized; the fonts, colors and layout on the page are pleasing to the eye.

This is one I'd definitely add to my writer's reference shelf.

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