Monday, February 15, 2016

On African-American Vernacular English

On African-American Vernacular English: Perhaps the more accurate term for this topic nowadays is "urban American English," because other minority groups such as Hispanics have also adopted this version of English, especially in cities. Common characteristics of AAVE include a heavy use of slang (or idioms), with special emphasis given to contractions and subject-verb disagreements. For example, the mainstream American English sentence "they are having fun" would most certainly translate into AAVE as "they is havin' fun." In many ways, AAVE is merely a "bare-bones" version of mainstream American English, especially since it attempts to rid the language of silent letters. Linguistically, however, AAVE shares a lot of phonological similarities with English dialects spoken in the American South. One popular theory is that AAVE originated from the linguistic mixing (creoles and pidgins) which occurred during the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. And because cities served as zones of exchange, where various peoples would assemble to trade goods, linguistic heterogeneity often ensued. Yet even though the South did not experience much urbanization till after the Civil War, AAVE still flourished.

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