African-American English: Structure, History and Use provides a comprehensive survey of linguistic research into African-American English. The main linguistic features are covered, in particular the grammar, phonology and lexicon. Further chapters explore the sociological, political and educational issues connected with African-American English. The editors are the leading experts in the field and along with other key figures, notably William Labov, Geneva Smitherman and Walt Wolfram, they provide an authoritative, diverse guide to this topical subject area. Drawing on many contemporary references: the Oakland School controversy, the rap of Ice-T, the contributors reflect the state of current scholarship on African-American English, and actively dispel many misconceptions, address new questions and explore new approaches. The book is designed to serve as a text for the increasing number of courses on African-American English and as a convenient reference for students of linguistics, black studies and anthropology at both undergraduate and postgraduate level.
Much scholarly work assumes that the structure of African American Vernacular English (AAVE) derives from an earlier plantation creole. This volume explores an alternative hypothesis: that the characteristic features were acquired from the varieties of English to which early speakers were exposed.
Known at various times as Black English, Ebonics, and currently as African American English (AAE), the spoken word of many African Americans is influenced by dialectical and linguistic features. How AAE interacts with standard written English is explored, including the effect on students' ability to write in standard English and how a teacher can help students become effective writers.
Seminar paper from the year 2009 in the subject American Studies - Linguistics, grade: 1.0, University of Duisburg-Essen, course: Language and Interaction, 6 entries in the bibliography, language: English, abstract: The majority of the US-citizens of African ancestry speak a characteristic variety of English that has been referred to by several names. It has variously been called Non-Standard Negro English, Negro Dialect , Black English Vernacular, Black English, African American English, African American Vernacular English, Ebonics, etc. In this paper, I will use the term African American Vernacular English, abbreviated AAVE, because it is the term most current among linguists today. The term “vernacular” refers to the everyday language spoken by a speech community, often a non-standard variety. No other variety inside the United States has been studied as much as AAVE. During the last fourty years, many works have been released concerning this topic. This paper is an overview of AAVE. It starts with the historical backgrounds of the variety by discussing the major theories concerning its origin. The main part of this paper deals with AAVE’s linguistic features in comparison to Standard American English. The features are subdivided into the sub-chapters phonology, grammar and vocabulary. A summary forms the final chapter of this paper.
Seminar paper from the year 2008 in the subject English - Applied Geography, grade: 1.7, University of Duisburg-Essen (Geisteswissenschaften), course: English in North America, language: English, abstract: From the very start I was very interested in African American Vernacular English (AAVE). In this work I also wanted to include a bit of history. I consider that history is an important influence on the present, not only regarding language but everything. History shows us the roots of things and a person who knows history avoids doing the same mistake again. In case of AAVE the language is indeed connected to the history of the African Americans, to the history of slavery and so to the history of the United States of America. For me it is also important to give a wide range on the knowledge about AAVE, a frame of history starting with the broad picture about the settlement and the rest of the history of the US. Then I will look on the history of the African Americans and the origin of their language. Finally a description of AAVE and its features follows. The question this essay deals with was mostly inspired by the controversal views about the origin of AAVE, namely the Creole-based and the dialect theory. Those might be “only” theories about the origin of AAVE but assuming one of those theories is correct defines a certain point of view on AAVE. Is AAVE “only” a dialect derived from a pidgin which developed somewhere in the Caribbean or on in West Africa or is AAVE a dialect which developed in the same manner and at the same time like all the other American dialects? Is it correct to compare AAVE to Standard English listing the mistakes this variety makes or should it rather be compared to other varieties?
Bachelor Thesis from the year 2011 in the subject English Language and Literature Studies - Linguistics, grade: 2,0, Justus-Liebig-University Giessen, language: English, abstract: This thesis investigates the use of African American Vernacular English in contemporary music. AAVE is an ethnic variety spoken by many, though not all, African Americans living in the United States. This dialect does not have one name only, but is also called “Negro dialect,” “Nonstandard Negro English,” “Black English,” “Black Street Speech,” “Black Vernacular English,” “Black Vernacular English,” or “African American English.” I would like to add that some terms are historical. It is crucial to know that researchers call it differently because to a large degree it depends on the time he/she conducted research on this topic. Today, the dialect is either called African American Vernacular English or African American English. The words “contemporary music” in the title refer to Hip Hop. This music genre was chosen to be investigated because out of the music genres African Americans are involved in, it is the one that generates most of the sales and is the most popular one. The rappers which are going to be analyzed in this thesis use many of the features of the African American vernacular. Given the huge number of AAVE features, only one of them will be analyzed, the copula verb to be, which in the following will only be called “the copula.” According to Wolfram, the copula is “one of the most often described structures of AAVE” (2008: 517). For this reason, the copula might be an interesting feature to look at. When researchers examined AAVE in the past, they did not necessarily take music as a source of data, but rather spoken language. One has to know that language in music is a different genre of language use, which differs from the usual use of the language. Music can be considered an artistic expression, but not “real” speech. Nevertheless, as music has always been and presumably will always be a big part in African American culture, it should be possible to recognize features of AAVE and use music as a reliable source. In the analysis conducted in this thesis, the use of the copula will be examined by having a look at the lyrics of three famous rappers from the US: Tupac, Jay-Z and 50 Cent. Even though the three of them can be assigned to “gangsta rap”, they all differ from each other. They all started their careers in different decades, come from different cities and have a different style of rapping. What they have in common is that they are African American rappers from a lower class who grew up in poverty and have become successful musicians.
Readings in African American Language: Aspects, Features and Perspectives is the most comprehensive collection in African American Vernacular English (AAVE) available that provides various theoretical approaches of its origin, development, and advantages. The contributors provide many different perspectives and topics relevant to the study of African American language as an academic, social, cultural/linguistic entry in the field of language study.
Seminar paper from the year 2004 in the subject English Language and Literature Studies - Linguistics, grade: 1,3, University of Heidelberg, 3 Literaturquellen entries in the bibliography, language: English, abstract: This essay shall introduce the reader to African-American English (AAE). This term is used in this text for a wide range of language varieties used by Black people in the United States of America. That means that AAE is to be regarded as a dialect of this ethnic group and not as an independent language. While most speakers of this variety (80 to 90 percent) use some form of African-American Vernacular English (AAVE), there are some areas where parts of the Black population speak a semi-creole, like Gullah, which is spoken in rural areas of South Carolina and Georgia. This text, however, will only deal with AAE in general, starting with the development of this variety. After that, the main and most wide-spread linguistic features will discussed. The essay will end with the description of recent issues concerning AAE and Afro-American culture in U.S. society as a conclusion.
Written by the hugely respected linguist, Geneva Smitherman, this book presents a definitive statement on African American English. Enriched by her evocative and inimitable prose style, the study presents an overview of past debates on the speech of African Americans, as well as providing a vision for the future. Featuring cartoons which demonstrate the relationship between language and race, as well as common perceptions of African American Language, she explores its contribution to mainstream American English and includes a summary of expressions as a suggested linguistic core of AAL. As global manifestations of Black Language increase, she argues that, through education, we must broaden our conception of AAL and its speakers, and further examine the implications of gender, age and class on AAL. Perhaps most of all we must appreciate the ‘artistic and linguistic genius’ of AAL, presented in this book through rap and Hip Hop lyrics and the explorations of rhyme and rhetoric in the Black speech community. Word from the Mother is an essential read for students of African American English, language, culture and sociolinguistics, as well as the general reader interested in the worldwide ‘crossover’ of black popular culture.
Seminar paper from the year 2008 in the subject English Language and Literature Studies - Linguistics, grade: 2,0, University of Dusseldorf "Heinrich Heine", 6 entries in the bibliography, language: English, abstract: Content 1. Introduction..............................................................................3 2. The roots of African American English............................................3 3. Features..................................................................................5 3.1Phonetics..............................................................................5 3.1.1.The “th” in AAE.........................................................5 3.1.2The Consonant Cluster education(CCR)..............................7 3.2AAE as a non-rhotic dialect........................................................9 3.3 Grammatical Features...............................................................10 3.3.1Negation..................................................................10 3.3.2Time Reference.........................................................11 3.4 BIN.................................................................................12 4. Conclusion 5. Works cited 6. Appendix 2. The roots of African American English Geneva Smitherman answers the question where the “black language and style” came from with the beginning of slavery in Colonial America. In 1619 a Dutch vessel brought with a cargo twenty Africans to Jamestown, Virginia to work there as “indentured servants”. The blacks where mostly brought from countries of the African West Coast over the so called “West passage” to the Colonies in America. They were forced to work on the cash crop plantations, harvesting tobacco, cotton, Sugar and coffee. Because there is, of course, no tape recordings of the language the slaves spoke, linguists have “to rely on reconstructions of black talk based on indirect evidence [...] written reproductions of the dialect in Journals, letters and diaries by whites [...]. African slaves developed a pidgin, what Smitherman calls a “language of transaction” used to communicate between themselves and the whites. This pidgin developed over the years as a widespread Creole among slaves. It consisted of the West-African words which were substituted little by little by English words but with the same basic language structures of West- African Languages. These Languages for example allow sentence constructions without the verb to be. According to that, sentences like “He going” still occur today in African American Vernacular English environments. Because the American settlers did not speak Standard British English as they came from Ireland, Scotland, and Germany etc. the slaves adopted certain features of the pidgin the settlers spoke to their Creole. Especially in the South, where a lot of Irish settled, a typical feature of Irish phonology is wide spread. Words like red and hat are pronounced with diphthongs, as “reɑd” and “həat”, respectively, which the blacks adopted to their language.
Essay from the year 2017 in the subject English Language and Literature Studies - Linguistics, grade: 1,3, University of Osnabrück, language: English, abstract: The United States is characterized by a notedly broad linguistic diversity. One part of this diversity in American English has always been at the center of scholarly research and publications: African-American Vernacular English (AAVE). It is one of the most influential varieties of English that is spoken across the US. This paper will shortly present the most distinctive featuring AAVE. Further, the main differences between AAVE and Standard American English, which can be largely found in grammar, phonology and semantics will be explained. History, discussions and hypotheses about AAVE, as well as the scorching criticism it received in recent attempts to implement it into the curriculum will also be included. Having elaborated on that, the question arises whether AAVE should be integrated into the educational system these days. Although African-American Vernacular English has been chosen as the standard term in linguistics it is important to note that there are many labels referring to AAVE. It is also known as African American English, Black English Vernacular, Black Vernacular English, Black Vernacular, Black English or Ebonics. These terms are most common amongst linguists today and all refer to the same variety.
This volume, based on presentations at a 1998 state of the art conference at the University of Georgia, critically examines African American English (AAE) socially, culturally, historically, and educationally. It explores the relationship between AAE and other varieties of English (namely Southern White Vernaculars, Gullah, and Caribbean English creoles), language use in the African American community (e.g., Hip Hop, women’s language, and directness), and application of our knowledge about AAE to issues in education (e.g., improving overall academic success). To its credit (since most books avoid the issue), the volume also seeks to define the term ‘AAE’ and challenge researchers to address the complexity of defining a language and its speakers. The volume collectively tries to help readers better understand language use in the African American community and how that understanding benefits all who value language variation and the knowledge such study brings to our society.
Seminar paper from the year 2006 in the subject American Studies - Linguistics, grade: 1,7, Ernst Moritz Arndt University of Greifswald, course: 'Varieties and Variability of English' - Proseminar 'English as a World Language', 11 entries in the bibliography, language: English, abstract: This paper will give an overview of some distinctive features of African American Vernacular English. Since drama in general aims to demonstrate everyday speech, I will also give evidence from the drama “A Raisin in the Sun” by Lorraine Vivian Hansberry from 1959. This will underline these features as well as their use and show their practicability in speech. Generally speaking, the term vernacular describes a variety of speech which is often analyzed in contrast to the Standard of a language and which is used by a certain group of speakers. The term African American Vernacular English (AAVE) thus describes a dialect used by African Americans. In course of time this variety has also been called “Black Vernacular English, Vernacular Black English, Black English Vernacular, Afro-American English, or simply Black English”. (Crystal 2003: 491) The African American Vernacular is a variety of the English language that “has set phonological (system of sounds), morphological (system of structure of words and relationship among words), syntactic (system of sentence structure), semantic (system of meaning) and lexical (structural organization of vocabulary items and other information) patterns”. (Green 2002: 1) In the course of this term paper I will take a closer look at these patterns. However, it has to be kept in mind that even though these features are characteristics of the African American speech variety, not every African American uses this variety. Additionally, some speakers use certain features more often than others, depending on the speaker’s age, social status, the situation of communication or the person they hold a conversation with. Belonging to the African American speech community does not imply using all features all of the time.
The African Heritage of American English provides a detailed compilation of Africanisms, identified linguistically, from a range of sources: folklore, place names, food culture, aesthetics, religion, loan words. Presenting a comprehensive accounting of African words retained from Bantu, Joseph Holloway and Winifred Vass examine the Bantu vocabulary content of the Gullah dialect of the Sea Islands; Black names in the United States; Africanisms of Bantu origin in Black English; Bantu place names in nine southern states; and Africanisms in contemporary American English. These linguistic retentions reflect the cultural patterns of groups imported to the United States, the subsequent dispersion of these groups, and their continuing influence on the shaping of American culture.
Essay from the year 2007 in the subject American Studies - Culture and Applied Geography, grade: 1,0, University of Cordoba (Spain: Universidad de Cordoba), course: Sociolinguistics, 8 entries in the bibliography, language: English, abstract: African American Vernacular English or AAVE, which is also variously labelled 'African American English', 'Black English', 'Black Vernacular English' or 'Ebonics', is the non-standard variety of English spoken by many African Americans, at least to some extent and in some contexts. The now very popular term Ebonics is a portmanteau of the words ebony' and phonics', created in 1973 by a group of black scholars, who disliked the term 'Nonstandard Negro English', which was in use at that time. The circumstances of the creation of the term, (which has gained considerable popularity during a huge debate in 1996, which will be discussed later), already highlights one of the main features associated with AAVE: the controversies which centre upon it, "even" - according to McCrum et al. - "within the Black community. For some, it is an authentic means of self-expression for Black English speakers throughout America and the world. For others, who prefer the norms of Standard English, Black English represents the disadvantaged past, an obstacle to advancement, something better unlearned, denied or forgotten." The first thorough sociolinguistic study of AAVE was carried out by William Labov in 1968. It was funded by the US Office of Education, which was interested in "the relation between social dialects and the teaching of English." The problems many Black American children had to acquire thorough reading skills was, in fact, what first brought attention to AAVE. Still scholars can't seem to agree on what exactly AAVE is and where it comes from. Scholars on one end of the scale of opinions hold it to be very different from Standard English, even a distinct language, those on the other end claim it to be a mere product of regional a"
Pre-University Paper from the year 2014 in the subject English Language and Literature Studies - Linguistics, grade: 15, , language: English, abstract: African American English (AAVE) was first brought to the attention of linguists when in the 1960s, the government realised that African American (AA) children from urban ghettoes were worse in school than white pupils. To counteract this, it financed compensation programmes in which AA children should be taught Standard English (SE) “by means of structural drills and techniques adopted from foreign language learning”. When this approach failed, linguists suggested that AA children only spoke a different dialect than white children and that consequently, it would be necessary to teach them SE as an additional dialect. However, this approach also failed because the failure of AA children in school seems to be a result of a cultural and social divide between AA and white American society, of which separate dialects of English are only a symptom. It will therefore be the aims of this paper to prove this belief wrong and prove that AAVE is indeed a rule-governed language, to investigate its origins and its use in Zora Neale Hurston’s most famous novel, Their EyesWereWatching God.