• In African American Vernacular English, there, you, and get are pronounced dare’s, ya, and gits.
ÁUDIO 27 5. Now listen to the song and answer the questions.
a) In this song the white man is metaphorized as the Mississippi River. Based on this, what is the main criticism in the first stanza?
b) What does the verse “He keeps on rollin’ along” mean?
c) What kind of work do black people do?
d) How do the black slaves feel?
e) What happens if they get drunk?
f) Which of these statements are true about the contrasting feelings in the last stanza? Answer in your notebook.
I. They could be described as anger and optimism.
II. They could be described as laziness and courage.
III. They could be described as sadness and indifference.
6. Notice that the lyrics reproduce African American Vernacular English by dropping the final g (words ending in ing) and using “ain’t” in place of “isn’t”. Find other characteristics of this dialect in the lyrics and copy them in your notebook.
As you have seen, the lyrics of “Old Man River” show the suffering of the slave who has to do the hard work, despite being tired or sick. If you are interested in seeing the film, which shows an instance of the prejudice against black people in the US, you can take the 1951 film from your video rental service and check. In this film the song is performed by William Warfield. Or you can listen to his version at (accessed on April 26, 2016).