Development of African American English

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Wiley, Apr 15, 2008 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 256 pages
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This book focuses on one of the most persistent and controversial questions in modern sociolinguistics: the past and present development of African American Vernacular English (AAVE).

Despite intense scrutiny of the historical and current development of AAVE, a number of issues remain unresolved. Most prominent among these is the development of African American English during the antebellum period and the trajectory of change in twentieth-century AAVE. This book addresses both of these issues by examining an unparalleled sociolinguistic situation involving a long-standing, isolated, biracial community situated in a distinctive dialect region of coastal North Carolina. This unique environment provides a venue for dealing with questions of localized dialect accommodation and ethnolinguistic distinctiveness in earlier African American English.

The conclusions drawn challenge the Creolist, Anglicist, and neo-Anglicist positions with respect to the history of AAVE and offer insights into the development of African American speech in the twentieth century.

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About the author (2008)

Walt Wolfram is William C. Friday Distinguished Professor at North Carolina State University. He has pioneered research on a wide range of American vernacular dialects and authored or co-authored 15 books, including American English (Blackwell 1998, with Natalie Schilling-Estes) and over 200 articles.

Erik R. Thomas is Associate Professor of Linguistics at North Carolina State University. He is author of An Acoustic Analysis of Vowel Variation in New World English (2001), and has published widely in journals such as Language Variation and Change, Journal of Pidgin and Creole Languages, and Journal of Phonetics.

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