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Black MeccaThe African Muslims of Harlem$
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Zain Abdullah

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780195314250

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195314250.001.0001

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The Language of Heaven

The Language of Heaven

(p.81) 4 The Language of Heaven
Black Mecca

Zain Abdullah (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

While the majority of West Africans in the United States are Anglophone with Christian leanings, today’s most recent African immigrants are Francophone or French-speaking and Muslim. Even if they did study English in their countries of origin, it was the British version, and most have great difficulty adjusting to an American accent, which also includes the Black vernacular. In the Harlem context, their Frenchness can be both a benefit and a hindrance. But while few have the money or time to take English as a second language (ESL) classes, they realize that if they are going to take advantage of the place many have viewed as heaven, they must learn the language. While most are polyglot, they are primarily conversant in local African languages such as Wolof or Djoula, and this chapter covers the linguistic challenges African Muslims face in a city like New York.

Keywords:   American English, Black vernacular, Francophone, French-speaking, Frenchness, English as a second language (ESL), Wolof, Djoula, African Muslim

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