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African-American English (AAE), also known as Black English in American linguistics, is the set of English dialects primarily spoken by most black people in the United States;most commonly, it refers to a dialect continuum ranging from African-American Vernacular English to a more standard English. African-American English shows variation such as in vernacular versus standard forms, rural versus urban characteristics, features specific to singular cities or regions only, and other sociolinguistic criteria. There has also been a significant body of African-American literature and oral tradition for centuries.
Linguistics is the scientific study of language. It involves analysing language form, language meaning, and language in context. The earliest activities in the documentation and description of language have been attributed to the 6th-century-BC Indian grammarian Pāṇini who wrote a formal description of the Sanskrit language in his Aṣṭādhyāyī.
Black people is a skin group-based classification, which is used for specific people with a mid to dark brown complexion. Not all “Black people” are dark skinned. However, in certain countries, often in socially based systems of racial classification or of ethnicity, it is used to describe persons who are perceived to be dark-skinned when compared to other populations. Depending on the usage, it is mostly used for the people of Sub-Saharan Africa and the indigenous peoples of Oceania, Southeast Asia and India.
The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country comprising 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the largest city by population is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico. The State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The U.S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The extremely diverse geography, climate, and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.
African-American English began as early as the seventeenth century, when the Atlantic slave trade brought African slaves into the British-colonial North America in an area that became the Southern United States in the late eighteenth century.During the development of plantation culture in this region, nonstandard dialects of English were widely spoken by British settlers, as well as likely some creolized varieties, probably resulting in both first- and second-language English varieties developed by African Americans. The nineteenth century's evolving cotton-plantation industry, and eventually the twentieth century's Great Migration, certainly contributed greatly to the spread of the first of these varieties as stable dialects of English. The most widespread modern dialect is known as African-American Vernacular English.
The Atlantic slave trade or transatlantic slave trade involved the transportation by slave traders of enslaved African people, mainly to the Americas. The slave trade regularly used the triangular trade route and its Middle Passage, and existed from the 16th to the 19th centuries. The vast majority of those who were enslaved and transported in the transatlantic slave trade were people from central and western Africa, who had been sold by other West Africans to Western European slave traders, who brought them to the Americas. The South Atlantic and Caribbean economies especially were dependent on the supply of secure labour for the production of commodity crops, making goods and clothing to sell in Europe. This was crucial to those western European countries which, in the late 17th and 18th centuries, were vying with each other to create overseas empires.
British colonisation of the Americas began in 1607 in Jamestown, Virginia, and reached its peak when colonies had been established throughout the Americas. The English, and later the British, were among the most important colonisers of the Americas, and their American empire came to surpass the Spanish American colonies in military and economic might.
The southern United States, also known as the American South, Dixie, Dixieland, or simply the South, is a region of the United States of America. It is located between the Atlantic Ocean and the western United States, with the midwestern United States and northeastern United States to its north and the Gulf of Mexico and Mexico to its south.
African-American Vernacular (AAVE) is the native variety of the vast majority of working- and middle-class African Americans, particularly in urban areas,with its own unique accent, grammar, and vocabulary features. Typical features of the grammar include a "zero" copula (e.g., she my sister instead of she's my sister), simplification of the possessive form (e.g., my momma friend instead of my mom's friend), and complexification of verb aspects and tenses beyond those of other English dialects (e.g., constructions like I'm a-run, I be running, I been runnin, I done ran, etc.). Common features of the phonology include non-rhoticity (dropping the r sound at the end of syllables), the metathetic use of aks instead of ask, simplification of diphthongs (e.g., eye typically sounds like ah), a raising chain shift of the front vowels, and a wider range of intonation or "melody" patterns than most General American accents. AAVE is used by middle-class African Americans in casual, intimate, and informal settings as one end of a sociocultural language continuum, and AAVE shows some slight variations by region or city.
In sociolinguistics, a variety, also called a lect, is a specific form of a language or language cluster. This may include languages, dialects, registers, styles, or other forms of language, as well as a standard variety. The use of the word "variety" to refer to the different forms avoids the use of the term language, which many people associate only with the standard language, and the term dialect, which is often associated with non-standard varieties thought of as less prestigious or "correct" than the standard. Linguists speak of both standard and non-standard (vernacular) varieties. "Lect" avoids the problem in ambiguous cases of deciding whether two varieties are distinct languages or dialects of a single language.
The working class comprises those engaged in waged or salaried labour, especially in manual-labour occupations and industrial work. Working-class occupations include blue-collar jobs, some white-collar jobs, and most pink-collar jobs. Members of the working class rely for their income exclusively upon their earnings from wage labour; thus, according to the more inclusive definitions, the category can include almost all of the working population of industrialized economies, as well as those employed in the urban areas of non-industrialized economies or in the rural workforce.
The middle class is a class of people in the middle of a social hierarchy. The very definition of the term "middle class" is highly political and vigorously contested by various schools of political and economic philosophy. Modern social theorists - and especially economists - have defined and re-defined the term "middle class" in order to serve their particular political ends. The definitions of the term "middle class" therefore are the result of the more- or less-scientific methods used when delineating the parameters of what is and isn't "middle class".
African-American Standard English is the prestigious end of the middle-class African-American language continuum, used for more formal, careful, or public settings than AAVE. This variety exhibits standard English vocabulary and grammar but often retains certain elements of the unique AAVE accent,with intonational or rhythmic features maintained more than phonological ones. Most middle-class African Americans are typically bi-dialectal between this standard variety and AAVE, learning the former variety through schooling, so that adults will frequently even codeswitch between the two varieties within a single conversation. Of the phonological features maintained in this standard dialect, they tend to be less marked. For instance, one such characteristic is the omission of the final consonant in word-final consonant clusters, so words such as past or hand may lose their final consonant sound.
Standard English is the dialect of English language that is used as the national norm—the standard language—in an English-speaking country, especially as the language for public and formal usage. In England and Wales, the term standard English is associated with British English, the Received Pronunciation accent, and the United Kingdom Standard English (UKSE) grammar and vocabulary. In Scotland, the standard dialect is Scottish Standard English; in the United States, General American is the standard variety spoken in that country; and in Australia, the national standard is called General Australian English.
In linguistics and social sciences, markedness is the state of standing out as unusual or divergent in comparison to a more common or regular form. In a marked–unmarked relation, one term of an opposition is the broader, dominant one. The dominant default or minimum-effort form is known as unmarked; the other, secondary one is marked. In other words, markedness involves the characterization of a "normal" linguistic unit against one or more of its possible "irregular" forms.
Black Appalachian Americans have been reported as increasingly adopting Appalachian/Southern dialect commonly associated with white Appalachians. These similarities include an accent that is rhotic, the categorical use of the grammatical construction "he works" or "she goes" (rather than the AAVE "he work" and "she go"), and Appalachian vocabulary (such as airish for "windy"). However, even African-American English in Appalachia is diverse, with African-American women linguistically divided along sociocultural lines.
Appalachian Americans describes Americans living in Appalachia, or their descendants. While not an official demographic used or recognized by the United States Census Bureau, Appalachian Americans, due to various factors, have developed their own distinct culture within larger social groupings. Included are their own dialect, music, folklore, and even sports teams as in the case of the Appalachian League. Furthermore, many colleges and universities now grant degrees in Appalachian studies. The term has seen growing usage in recent years, possibly in opposition to the use of hillbilly, which is still often used to describe people of the region.
Appalachian English is American English native to the Appalachian mountain region of the Eastern United States. Historically, the term "Appalachian dialect" refers to a local English variety of southern Appalachia, also known as Smoky Mountain English or Southern Mountain English in the United States, both influential upon and influenced by the Southern U.S. regional dialect, which has become predominant in central and southern Appalachia today, while a Western Pennsylvania regional dialect has become predominant in northern Appalachia. The 2006 Atlas of North American English identifies the "Inland South", a dialect sub-region in which the Southern U.S. dialect's defining vowel shift is the most developed, as centering squarely in southern Appalachia: namely, the cities of Knoxville and Chattanooga, Tennessee; Birmingham, Alabama; and Asheville, North Carolina. All Appalachian English is rhotic and characterized by distinct phonology, morphology, syntax, and lexicon. It is mostly oral but its features are also sometimes represented in literary works.
Southern American English or Southern U.S. English is a regional dialect or collection of dialects of American English spoken throughout the Southern United States, though increasingly in more rural areas and primarily by White Southerners. The dialect is commonly known in the United States simply as Southern, while formal, much more recent terms within American linguistics include Southern White Vernacular English and Rural White Southern English.
African-American English in the North Carolina Outer Banks is rapidly accommodating to urban AAVE through the recent generations, despite having aligned with local Outer Banks English for centuries.
The Outer Banks is a 200-mile-long (320 km) string of barrier islands and spits off the coast of North Carolina and southeastern Virginia, on the east coast of the United States. They cover most of the North Carolina coastline, separating Currituck Sound, Albemarle Sound, and Pamlico Sound from the Atlantic Ocean.
High Tider or Hoi Toider is a dialect of American English spoken in very limited communities of the South Atlantic United States—particularly, several small island and coastal townships in the rural North Carolina "Down East" that encompasses the Outer Banks and Pamlico Sound as well as in the Chesapeake Bay. The term is also a local nickname for any native resident of these regions.
Older or earlier African-American English refers to a set of many heterogeneous varieties studied and reconstructed by linguists as theoretically spoken by the first African Americans and African slaves in the United States. Of primary interest is the direct theoretical predecessor to AAVE. Mainly four types of sources have been used for the historical reconstruction of older AAVE: written interviews, ex-slave audio recordings, the modern diaspora dialects of isolated black communities, and letters written by eighteenth- and nineteenth-century African Americans.The use of the zero copula (the absence of is or are, as in she gon' leave), nonstandard plural forms (the three man, mans, or even mens) and multiple negatives (as in no one didn't leave me nothing) were occasional or common variants in these earlier dialects, and the latter item even the preferred variant in certain grammatical contexts. Other nonstandard grammatical constructions associated with AAVE are documented in older dialects too; however, many of them are not, evidently being recent innovations of twentieth-century urban AAVE.
Sea Island Creole English, or "Gullah", is the distinct language of some African Americans along the South Carolina and Georgia coast. Gullah is an English creole: a natural language grammatically independent from English that uses mostly English vocabulary. Most Gullah speakers today probably form a continuum with the English language. A sub-dialect of Gullah is also spoken in Oklahoma and Texas, known as Afro-Seminole Creole.
There is a long tradition of representing the distinctive speech of African Americans in American literature. A number of researchers :x) argues that early mass media portrayals of black speech are the strongest historical evidence of a separate variety of English for blacks. Early popular works are also used to determine the similarities that historical varieties of black speech have in common with modern AAVE.have looked into the ways that American authors have depicted the speech of black characters, investigating how black identity is established and how it connects to other characters. Brasch (1981
The earliest depictions of black speech came from works written in the eighteenth century, [ page needed ]primarily by white authors. A notable exception is Clotel (1853), the first novel written by an African American (William Wells Brown). Depictions have largely been restricted to dialogue and the first novel written entirely in AAVE was June Jordan's His Own Where (1971), though Alice Walker's epistolary novel The Color Purple is a much more widely known work written entirely in AAVE. Lorraine Hansberry's 1959 play A Raisin in the Sun also has near exclusive use of AAVE. The poetry of Langston Hughes uses AAVE extensively.
Some other notable works that have incorporated representations of black speech (with varying degrees of perceived authenticity) include:
As there is no established spelling system for AAVE,depicting it in literature is instead often done through spelling changes to indicate its phonological features, or to contribute to the impression that AAVE is being used (eye dialect). More recently, authors have begun focusing on grammatical cues, and even the use of certain rhetorical strategies.
Portrayals of black characters in movies and television are also done with varying degrees of authenticity.In Imitation of Life (1934), the speech and behavioral patterns of Delilah (an African American character) are reminiscent of minstrel performances that set out to exaggerate stereotypes, rather than depict black speech authentically. More authentic performances, such as those in the following movies and TV shows, occur when certain speech events, vocabulary, and syntactic features are used to indicate AAVE usage, often with particular emphasis on young, urban African Americans:
Nonstandard African-American varieties of English have been stereotypically associated with a lower level of education and low social status. Since the 1960s, however, linguists have demonstrated that each of these varieties, and namely African-American Vernacular English, is a "legitimate, rule-governed, and fully developed dialect".The techniques used to improve the proficiency of African-American students learning standard written English have sometimes been similar to that of teaching a second language. Contrastive analysis is used for teaching topics in African-American Vernacular English. Both the phonological and syntactic features of a student's speech can be analyzed and recorded in order to identify points for contrast with Standard American English. Another way AAE can be taught is based on a strategy, communicative flexibility, that focuses on language used at home and analyzes speech during dramatic play. Using this method, children are taught to recognize when SAE is being used and in which occasions, rather than conforming to the speech around them in order to sound correct.
Although the stigmatization of AAE has continued, AAE remains because it has functioned as a social identity marker for many African-Americans.The goal with teaching SAE is not to end its use, but to help students differentiate between settings where its use is and is not appropriate.
A pidgin, or pidgin language, is a grammatically simplified means of communication that develops between two or more groups that do not have a language in common: typically, its vocabulary and grammar are limited and often drawn from several languages. It is most commonly employed in situations such as trade, or where both groups speak languages different from the language of the country in which they reside. Fundamentally, a pidgin is a simplified means of linguistic communication, as it is constructed impromptu, or by convention, between individuals or groups of people. A pidgin is not the native language of any speech community, but is instead learned as a second language.
A creole language, or simply creole, is a stable natural language that develops from the simplifying and mixing of different languages at a fairly sudden point in time: often, a pidgin transitioned into a full-fledged language. While the concept is similar to that of a mixed or hybrid language, a creole is often additionally defined as being highly simplified when compared to its parent languages. However, a creole is still complex enough that it has a consistent system of grammar, possesses a large stable vocabulary, and is acquired by children as their native language. These three features distinguish a creole language from a pidgin.
Ebonics is a term that was originally intended to refer to the language of all people descended from enslaved Black Africans, particularly in West Africa, the Caribbean, and North America. Since the 1996 controversy over its use by the Oakland School Board, the term Ebonics has primarily been used to refer to the sociolect African American English, a dialect distinctively different from Standard American English.
Liberian English refers to the varieties of English spoken in Liberia. There are five such varieties:
African-American Vernacular English, known less precisely as Black Vernacular, Black English Vernacular (BEV), Black Vernacular English (BVE) or colloquially Ebonics, is the variety of English natively spoken by many working- and middle-class African Americans and some Black Canadians, particularly in urban communities.
A speech community is a group of people who share a set of linguistic norms and expectations regarding the use of language. It is a concept mostly associated with sociolinguistics and anthropological linguistics.
Jamaican Patois, known locally as Patois and called Jamaican Creole by linguists, is an English-based creole language with West African influences spoken primarily in Jamaica and the Jamaican diaspora; it is spoken by the majority of Jamaicans as a native language. Patois developed in the 17th century, when slaves from West and Central Africa were exposed to, learned and nativized the vernacular and dialectal forms of English spoken by the slaveholders: British English, Scots and Hiberno-English. Jamaican Creole exhibits a gradation between more conservative creole forms that are not significantly mutually intelligible with English, and forms virtually identical to Standard English.
Prestige is the level of regard normally accorded a specific language or dialect within a speech community, relative to other languages or dialects. The concept of prestige in sociolinguistics provides one explanation for the phenomenon of variation in form, among speakers of a language or languages. Prestige varieties are those varieties which are generally considered, by a society, to be the most "correct" or otherwise superior variety. The prestige variety, in many cases, is the standard form of the language though there are exceptions, particularly in situations of covert prestige where a non-standard dialect is highly valued. In addition to dialects and languages, prestige is also applied to smaller linguistic features, such as the pronunciation or usage of words or grammatical constructs, which may not be pronounced enough to constitute a separate dialect.
An ethnolect is generally defined as a language variety that mark speakers as members of ethnic groups who originally used another language or distinctive variety. According to another definition, an ethnolect is any speech variety associated with a specific ethnic group. It may be a distinguishing mark of social identity, both within the group and for outsiders. The term combines the concepts of an ethnic group and dialect.
John Russell Rickford is a Guyanese academic and author. Rickford is the J. E. Wallace Sterling Professor of Linguistics and the Humanities at Stanford University's Department of Linguistics and the Stanford Graduate School of Education, where he has taught since 1980. His book Spoken Soul: The Story of Black English, which he wrote together with his son, Russell J. Rickford, won the American Book Award in 2000.
A post-creole continuum is a dialect continuum of varieties of a creole language between those most and least similar to the superstrate language. Due to social, political, and economic factors, a creole language can decreolize towards one of the languages from which it is descended, aligning its morphology, phonology, and syntax to the local standard of the dominant language but to different degrees depending on a speaker's status.
Habitual be is the use of an uninflected be in African American Vernacular English (AAVE) and Caribbean English to mark habitual or extended actions, in place of the Standard English inflected forms of be, such as is and are. In AAVE, use of be indicates that a subject repeatedly does an action or embodies a trait. In Standard English, the use of be merely conveys that an individual has done an action in a particular tense, such as in the statement "She was singing".
Linguistic insecurity comprises feelings of anxiety, self-consciousness, or lack of confidence in the mind of a speaker surrounding their use of language. Often, this anxiety comes from speakers' belief that their speech does not conform to the perceived standard and/or the style of language expected by the speakers' interlocutor(s). Linguistic insecurity is situationally induced and is often based on a feeling of inadequacy regarding personal performance in certain contexts, rather than a fixed attribute of an individual. This insecurity can lead to stylistic, and phonetic shifts away from an affected speaker's default speech variety; these shifts may be performed consciously on the part of the speaker, or may be reflective of an unconscious effort to conform to a more prestigious or context-appropriate variety or style of speech. Linguistic insecurity is linked to the perception of speech varieties in any community, and so may vary based on socioeconomic class and gender. It is also especially pertinent in multilingual societies.
English is a West Germanic language that was first spoken in early medieval England and eventually became a global lingua franca. It is named after the Angles, one of the Germanic tribes that migrated to the area of Great Britain that later took their name, as England. Both names derive from Anglia, a peninsula in the Baltic Sea. The language is closely related to Frisian and Low Saxon, and its vocabulary has been significantly influenced by other Germanic languages, particularly Norse, and to a greater extent by Latin and French.
Variation is a characteristic of language: there is more than one way of saying the same thing. Speakers may vary pronunciation (accent), word choice (lexicon), or morphology and syntax. But while the diversity of variation is great, there seem to be boundaries on variation – speakers do not generally make drastic alterations in sentence word order or use novel sounds that are completely foreign to the language being spoken. Linguistic variation does not equate with language ungrammaticality, but speakers are still sensitive to what is and is not possible in their native lect.
African-American Vernacular English (AAVE) has been the center of controversy about the education of African-American youths, the role AAVE should play in public schools and education, and its place in broader society.
Shana Poplack, is a distinguished university professor in the linguistics department of the University of Ottawa, where she directs the sociolinguistics laboratory and three time holder of the Canada Research Chair in linguistics. She is a leading proponent of variation theory, the approach to language science pioneered by William Labov. She has extended the methodology and theory of this field into bilingual speech patterns, the prescription-praxis dialectic in the co-evolution of standard and non-standard languages, and the comparative reconstruction of ancestral speech varieties, including African American vernacular English.
Linguistic profiling is the practice of identifying the social characteristics of an individual based on auditory cues, in particular dialect and accent. The theory was first developed by Professor John Baugh to explain discriminatory practices in the housing market based on the auditory redlining of prospective clientele by housing administrators. Linguistic profiling extends to issues of legal proceedings, employment opportunities, and education. The theory is frequently described as the auditory equivalent of racial profiling. The bulk of the research and evidence in support of the theory pertain to racial and ethnic distinctions, though its applicability holds within racial or ethnic groups, perceived gender and sexual orientation, and in distinguishing location of geographic origin.