Lesson 1 - background

1.5.1 - READING
  1. There are different hypotheses regarding the origin of African American English. One of the most dominant ones, the Creolist Hypothesis, holds that Creole languages were formed when speakers of African languages came into contact with speakers of English in the U.S. and that African American English slowly formed out of Creole and English contact. In areas where speakers of African American languages were isolated, Creole languages such as Gullah, Jamaican English, and Patois still survive.
  2. AAVE originated in the Deep South (South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississipi, and Louisiana). With the Emancipation Proclamation, many African American left the South to seek better jobs and live outside of the confines of the segregated South and to flee lynching, race riots, and other brutal effects of Jim Crow racism. As a result, AAVE is spoken across the US, from large cities to rural locales.
  1. Due to the history of racism and discrimination in the U.S., the language patterns of African Americans have often been denigrated. AAVE has been viewed as haphazard, substandard, undesirable, deviant, illogical, lazy, "ghetto talk," and broken.
  2. Fogel and Ehri (2000) reviewed a number of studies that found that educators tend to rate African American English-speaking students as less intelligent, less confident, and less likely to succeed than students who speak in a more standardized way.
  3. Classroom work containing features of AAVE and other varieties of English is often evaluated as inferior to otherwise equivalent work containing standardized English.
  4. Godley, Sweetland, Wheeler, Munnici, and Carpenter (2006) reported that teachers are more likely to give lower evaluations to work presented orally by African American students, even when that work is equal in quality to work presented by White students.
  1. [Ask] is often pronounced [Aks] by AAVE speakers. This feature of AAVE is often stigmatized and mocked. Yet, this alternative pronunciation of "ask" has existed in 'the English language for 1,000 years. Chaucer's "The Canterbury Tales, written 1386 contains the line [But that I axe why that the fifthe man was noon housbonde to the Samaritan.]
  2. In AAVE, the "r" sound may be absent if it follows a vowel sound, as it does in the words [car, father, card, bigger, cardboard, court, beer, mother, etc.].
  3. The "TH" sound may be pronounced differently from its standardized pronunciation. Consider the pronunciation of [this, these, those, that, they, smooth, neither, etc.] in AAVE.
  4. Consonant clusters such as [sk, nd, ts, kt, sts, and sks] may be reduced. Words such as [tacktful] and [lists] may be respectively pronounced as [tackful] and [liss].
  5. The word [time] and [mile] may be respectively pronounced as [tom] and [mall]. [Oil] may be pronounced [oll or all].
  6. The [air] sound at the end of words may sound more like [ur]. For example, [hair] may be pronounced [her]. [Care] may sound similar to [cur].
1.4.7 - Grammar
  1. AIN'T - The word "ain't" is often used as a helping or linking verb in nonstandardized varieties of English. Many speakers of English, including SAE speakers, use "ain't" instead of "am not," "is not," and "are not." - [I ain't hungry], [He ain't old enough]
  2. MULTIPLE NEGATIVES - While the use of multiple negatives within one sentence or clause is highly stigmatized, they are not uncommon in AAVE - [This lady didn't have no sense], [I ain't seen him neither].
  3. ABSENCE OF -s INFLECTIONS. In AAVE, -s is often left out in the third-person singular verb forms - [He talk too much], [She like cats]. Second, final -s may be absent in possessive constructions, where standardized English would call for the -s - [I'm going to my mama house], [Look at John hat]. Third, -s in plural constructions may be absent - [ Five me 50 cent] [ Those dog should go home].
1.4.7 - Grammar
  1. Copula deletion as in [He funny] for [He is funny] or [We running to the store] for [We're running to the store.]
  2. Habitual or invariant form of [Be] - A frequently noticed feature of AAVE is the use of invariant [be] meaning "typically, usually, often, or regularly." For example, speakers of AAVE may say [The students be missing class when the bus comes late] to mean [ The students typically miss class when the bus comes late.] When the invariant [be] surfaces in African American English-speaking students' writing, the aspect that is conveyed by the form is generally a habitual one.
  3. Stessed Been - A feature of AAVE that is rarely used by speakers of other varieties of English is stressed [been] pronounced [bin]. This use of [been] indicates that an event has happened in the remote past, a long time prior to the present time. So, the sentence [ I been finished my homework] means that the student finished it a long time ago, perhaps also implying that the listener should already know this information.
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