Levels of Language

“What dat le forty year ole ‘oman doin’ wid her hair swingin’ down her back lak some young gal?–Where she left dat young lad of a boy she went off here wid?–Thought she was going to marry?–Where he left her?–What he done wid all her money? Betcha he off wid some gal so young she ain’t even got no hairs–why she don’t stay in her class?–”

Neale Hurston, Zora. Their eyes were watching God. Harper Perennial Modern Classics Edition, 2006. 2.

Immediately, the reader realizes the different thresholds of language the narrator utilizes to depict her story. There is an interesting contrast between the language used by the protagonist and Hurston. The narrator’s voice is sophisticated, elegant, and articulates her thoughts with precision. On the other hand, Janie and Nanny’s voice can be seen as an entirely different prehistoric dialect.