African American Vernacular English Ebonics AAVE Origins African slaves learned Pidgin English before leaving Africa. Pidgins developed
into creoles as slaves had no community that understood their African languages. Creole acquired English features with education and urbanization. Prevalence of African-American
Vernacular English Significant proportions of African-Americans have a vernacular way of speaking that shares features with other African-Americans. Individual speakers differ in frequency of non-standard forms. Females use fewer than males
African-American Vernacular English in Relation to English African AmericanStandard Vernacular Social contexts require English is clearly a dialect of English Phonology and syntax are closely
related to Standard English Ebonics is a term advocated by Afrocentrists who emphasize African influences on AAVE and minimize English influences. vernacular or standard English, African Americans need two
dialects: AAVE and SE. Home often requires vernacular but school requires standard. African-Americans shift to a standard style of English they use in formal situations. AAVE is used when participants are very familiar.
Type 1 is family, Type 4 is to white stranger. AAVE includes dropping final /-s/ Data are from Los Angeles AAVE in relation to other Englishes 1. African-American Vernacular English is a subsystem of English Phonology Syntax
2. African-American Vernacular English incorporates Southern phonology. 3. African-American Vernacular English was derived from a creole similar to Caribbean creoles. 4. African-American Vernacular English has a highly developed aspect system unlike Standard English. Features of AAVE
Reduction of Word-Final consonant Clusters Other vernaculars also reduce clusters before consonants [lsnayt] last night AAVE reduces clusters even at ends of sentences She came in las Dropping suffix /-s/ is correlated to syntactic function.
Consonant reduction comparison Dialects overlap Speakers form a continuum of styles More Consonant cluster comparison Whites and and Blacks both simplify if
cluster followed by consonant. Blacks continue to simplify when cluster is followed by vowel but whites pronounce complete clusters. reduction must be addressed when teaching Consonant reduction produces homonyms. reading. Not all speakers have all of the homonyms below. 14 of the examples result from vowels, 5 from consonants
Variation of /r/ Post vocalic /r/ is pronounced as extra length on the preceding vowel. [pa:k yo: ka:] park your car Similar to New York and Southern dialects. Different in dropping postvocalic /r/ even when it is prevocalic. Carol [ka:ol]
Interested [inte:ested] Contraction and Deletion of the Copula Copula is sometimes contracted in rapid Standard English. Shes smart. Copula is sometimes deleted in AAVE. She smart.
Exposed copula is not contracted in Standard English and not deleted in AAVE She is. Copula deletion is rule governed. Copula function affects deletion. Copula Deletion by Class and Gender
Data are from Detroit Womens speech is closer to standard. Middle class is close to standard Hypercorrection Hypercorrection is producing standard forms in greater profusion than the standard AAVE They act like they think I really likes
to go to school. Third person singular -s is usually dropped Attempt to produce standard produces missing feature in places where standard would not. lookted [l ktId]
Past tense /-Id/ is usually dropped Attempt to produce standard produces /-Id/ after past tense allomorph /-t/ Hypercorrection occurs more often in formal contexts. AAVE Aspect Aspect is the manner in which events occur. Aspect is sometimes marked on verbs.
Standard English has few aspect markers /-ing/ progressive AAVE has six aspect markers (an aspect system) African languages generally have aspect systems (Men in Black):It be rainin black people in New Y
Invariant be in the classroom Pupil uses aspect precisely More invariant be in the Classroom Be done uses the invariant be
Multiple negation is also callednegative concord. AAVE Style Shifting Speakers use AAVE when they have rapport or solidarity with the audience. In the presence of school authorities African American children avoid speaking Some African American adults shift
to Black Standard English in formal situations Black Standard English Standard English syntax AAVE Pronunciations Drop postvocalic /-r/ Reduce clusters But retain past tense /Id/, future /l/, and 3d person /-s/
African-Americans shift to a standard style of English they use in formal situations. AAVE is used when participants are very familiar. Type 1 is family, Type 4 is to white stranger. AAVE includes dropping final /-s/ Data are from Los Angeles
School Rejects AAVE Children who use AAVE in school are classed as hostile or handicapped. African American children who do well in school are often shunned by peers. Labov found inverse relation of popularity and reading scores. Parents want children to learn standard but they still value AAVE.
Parents who have mastered Standard English have higher opinion of AAVE in all contexts. Attitudes to Vernacular Oakland, California Parents reject use of AAVE in school.
Vernacular Culture Index: Detroit (Edwards) AAVE Linguistic Variables (Detroit) Correlations to Vernacular Culture Index Ann Arbor School Case
African American children in Ann Arbor were classed as learning disabled due to reading problems. Parents sued the school board in 1977. Labov was expert witness Parents won case by proving that AAVE was so distinct from Standard English that teachers needed to understand differences. Outcome was that teachers had to take
instruction in AAVE. Oakland School Board Resolution In 1996 the Oakland School board resolved to acknowledge AAVE as distinct in order to improve student reading. Their plan included instructing teachers about AAVE and instructing
students in AAVE. Using AAVE in school is controversial African American children do better on Boehm Test of Basic Concepts when it is presented in AAVE. The 1970s Bridge reading program used AAVE There were three stages beginning material
was entirely AAVE, then half AAVE and half SE and finally all standard English Four months of Bridge instruction improved reading scores by 6.2 months compared to 1.6 months without Bridge Publisher stopped printing texts because of pressure. Oakland resolution was criticized for using AAVE in the classroom.
Ebonics Controversy The Oakland School board resolution undercut its persuasiveness with erroneous statements about AAVE. The resolution claimed that African American language is not a variety of English and should be called Ebonics, emphasizing its African roots. Linguists have determined that AAVE is a variety of English.
The resolution claimed that Ebonics is genetically based. Linguists have found each language to be learned rather than hereditary Obstacles to Classroom Success AAVE pronunciation produces different homonyms than SE.
Reading teachers need to know students homonyms. Teachers mistake AAVE aspect for grammar errors. Educators stigmatize African American childrens speech. Some African American children resist Standard English. Acknowledgement and respect for home speech may help students learn. Learning Standard English does not require surrendering the language of home.
Elsewhere students learn standard language different from their home dialect. (e.g. Switzerland) L.A. teaches codeswitching, acknowledging other codes.
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