stay woke

Americans have bastardised the English language enough, but the latest word that really does show a true disdain for proper English grammar is the usage of “woke”.

Go to any American published news feed and you will see this terrible bastardisation all over their headlines. Maybe it is a symptom of the #MeToo generation where social justice activists, or apparatchiks to the new Soviet American system think they are being ‘progressive’ when they are spamming the internet with this word across the English speaking internet world.

woke headline

It is this disease of ungrammatical Americanisms that sadly infects our side of the Atlantic, because Americans know how to shout louder than anyone else, and repeat their ungrammatical monstrosities on a 24 hour basis. Everything is now infected with this banal American colloquialism, and the English language is sadly the loser in all of this.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, who have conducted their own research, the particular ungrammatical usage of the word ‘woke’ derives from AAVE (African American Vernacular English) or as other people call it, GS (Ghetto Speech) or EBONICS.

If you frequent social media, you may well have seen posts or tweets about current events that are tagged #staywoke. Woke is a slang term that is easing into the mainstream from some varieties of a dialect called African American Vernacular English (sometimes called AAVE). In AAVE, awake is often rendered as woke, as in, “I was sleeping, but now I’m woke.”

woke
‘Woke’ is increasingly used as a byword for social awareness.

It can be hard to trace slang back to its origins since slang’s origins are usually spoken, and it can be particularly difficult to trace a slang word that has its origins in a dialect. Woke’s transformation into a byword of social awareness likely started in 2008, with the release of Erykah Badu’s song “Master Teacher”:

Stay woke became a watch word in parts of the black community for those who were self-aware, questioning the dominant paradigm and striving for something better. But stay woke and woke became part of a wider discussion in 2014, immediately following the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. The word woke became entwined with the Black Lives Matter movement; instead of just being a word that signaled awareness of injustice or racial tension, it became a word of action. Activists were woke and called on others to stay woke.

Like many other terms from black culture that have been taken into the mainstream, woke is gaining broader uses. It’s now seeing use as an adjective to refer to places where woke people commune: woke Twitter has very recently taken off as the shorthand for describing social-media activists. The broader uses of woke are still very much in flux, and there are some who are woke to the broader implications of woke: