Their Eyes Were Watching God Part 3: Vernacular
So ye be wantin’ to learn more about vernacular? Arrr...then keep a weather eye out...and...wait. This book wasn’t written in pirate vernacular? ...Huh. Well, we’re going to check out this video to learn what role vernacular language plays in Their Eyes Were Watching God. Care to join us?
|Literature||Their Eyes Were Watching God|
One of the things that stands out in her writing
is that it is so
highly vernacularly connected with what we think of
Harlem in that era.
And authors historically have been lambasted
for being too vernacular in things.
I mean, Mark Twain, Samuel Clemens, with Huck Finn comes to mind
as one that received a lot of attention
in that domain.
But to talk to us about her writing
and how she makes us actually
feel the world that she's in.
Vernacular - first let's define that word.
Kind of a big word.
It basically means how people speak.
So if someone were to write down exactly what we were saying word for word
with the letters we drop because of our accents,
that would be vernacular.
And that's exactly what Zora Neale Hurston did.
So when you look at the text
of Their Eyes Were Watching God,
it is so daunting, and you're like,
"This almost looks like another language.
I don't recognize this as English.
How am I supposed to read it?"
When you read it out loud, you get it.
It sounds like people talking.
So she basically mimicked people's voices
by dropping letters that weren't often pronounced by those people,
or kind of exchanging
certain letters for others.
And she has this entire book written in vernacular.
This is part of the reason that she wasn't
very much appreciated in her time.
Hurston herself talks about how this vernacular is really
an action language, and how
African Americans were using
And if you really read closely, you'll see
that a lot of the speech
in Their Eyes Were Watching God is about action
And Hurston was really trying to represent
the realities of life. And if you write in a way
that people don't actually speak,
you can't do that.
So she did it not only with her content,
but with her writing style, as well.
[ pen writing ]
What is vernacular?
Why did Hurston write in the vernacular of the time?
Ooh, five dollar word.