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Classification Of Verbal Duel

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The Slaves' tension releaving practice of exchanging ritualized insults eventuated into a remarkable communication sameness in form, content, and rules. Starting then and continuing to the present in many Black Communities there are permissible and non-permissible forms of Verbal Dueling. Permissible (Latin, 'let go, send') is a 15th century English word meaning "to give up, hence, "allow" in the sense of giving authority to grant (or withhold) that which is related to the concrete and/or the practical. As used here, permissible refers to social authority given to the "Cognizant" participants (those fully aware of what they are saying); the "Zombie" (the word persists but its original meaning faded away) word users; and the African Verbal Duelers.

"Sounding" seems to be the term which covers the most games of verbal insults as a permissible form of disrespect. Non-Permissible Verbal dueling contains two subcategories - - the Re-Enactment type (a copy-cat of malicious European practices, such as the "N" word) and the Rage type (e.g. "mouthing-off" in the sense of speaking rudely and irrationally).

The Rage type arose from frustrating outrage being projected onto fellow Slaves concerning being enslaved and concerning how they were being treated by the captors.

In contrast to pre-colonial African youth, the Slaves' Re-enactments and Rage Dueling attacked the opponents’ Selfhood with the intention of destroying self-esteem props in as many areas as possible.

African "Permissible" forms of Disrespect extend back into pre-history.

One of its earliest applications pertained to a piece of pottery used for toilet purposes. Yet, no one knows how the colorful slang words and colloquialisms began and there is still no generally accepted definition for either. However, an old African practice was for peer groups to consciously poke fun at their own faults and the foolishness of others in the tribe. Their language was “down to earth”-- rhythmic, active, clever, forceful, stylish, transient, metaphorically vivid, and humorously exaggerated -- features resembling colloquialisms. Also in Africa, when used among friends, one intent of Mumbo Jumbo, mixed with proverbs, was not so much to psychologically destroy another person but rather to remain standing as the tallest opponent in an amusing verbal competition. Just as it is "normal" among Europeans to engage in dishonorable practices among themselves and with others, it is "normal" among struggling Black Americans to engaged in "acceptable" or "permissible" forms of Disrespect--but always with "Style" (the manipulation of language and/or mannerisms designed to blaze the group’s emotions and thereby gain status). The African/Black American mesh gives rise to three groups--the concrete, the partial boundaries, and the unbounded: Group I embraces fairly well circumscribed Verbal Dueling as a category and/or as a subcategory. For example, "The Dozens” is designated in the literature as a Universe Term for Verbal Dueling or as a subcategory of "Sounding" or Verbal Dueling but, beyond minor variations, not with subcategories. The same applies to "Sounding," which some say is an overall category or a cosharer with Verbal Dueling and "The Dozens." Some use Signifying as being on par with Verbal Dueling and "The Dozens" but yet it contains separate subcategories. Group II consists of very hazy boundaries between entities, meaning there are different names for the same thing or the same name for different things.

Examples: (1) “Fronting”--trying to make a big impression on someone in a pretentious way; and (2) Boasting or Bragging. Group III entities have not been assigned a specific name. Examples of those I heard as a boy include: (1) “Minding” somebody else’s business (i.e. “nosey” by prying into the affairs of others) and making it ones own; (2) being unjustifiably extravagant in a speech exchange for the sake of appearances; (3) appearing to know something about everything; (4) trifling with important matters; (5) rhythmically chanting insults and insinuations for no reason; (6) jesting and teasing; and (7) trying to be “cool” or “hip” via verbal styling.


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