Zora Neale Hurston's admiration for Black vernacular language is evident in her focus on prayer-speech, framed as part of a cultural and spiritual inheritance that Hurston consciously draws between the characters in her debut novel—the semiautobiographical Jonah's Gourd Vine (1934)—her nonfiction essays, and her folklore collections. As represented by Hurston, prayer-speech reflects the process of conscious syncretism whereby West African spiritual ideals were deliberately selected, retained, and applied to Western-framed Judeo-Christian beliefs and practices. Hurston's emphasis on prayer-speech, and the cultural consciousness that permeates the diasporic oral tradition, further positions her as a valuable resource for scholars of Africana religions.

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