The Historical Evolution of Earlier African American English: An Empirical Comparison of Early Sources
Based on a 500,000 word corpus of early sources collected from ex-slave narratives, ex-slave recordings, and interviews with hoodoo priests, this book reconstructs the English spoken by African Americans between 1830 and 1920. By means of detailed quantitative analyses, three linguistic features (negation patterns, copula usage, and relative marker choice) are interpreted along the lines of temporal change, regional diversity, and variation across gender. Additionally, some 300 non-standard letters written by African Americans in the 19th century are compared to the main corpus in order to identify differences between speech and writing.
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Data and methods
Negation patterns in Earlier AAE
The copula in Earlier AAE
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adjacent adjectives African Americans analysis ANSE antecedent appear Bailey Barden century combined corpus consonants contexts contr contracted and zero correlates creole Cukor-Avila decade decreolization dialect Earlier AAE East Palo Alto favored following grammatical environment gender gonna HOODOOl human Hyatt indefinite NPs informants interviews Labov Deletion LAL and FBL letters Liberia Liberian Settler English linguistic locatives Maynor mesolect modals Mufwene negation patterns negative attraction Negative auxiliaries negative concord negative postposing non-adjacent non-human heads non-subject relatives non-subject zero percent percentages Perdue Phillips phonological Poplack preferences pron Rawick relative clauses relative markers relative pronouns relativization Rickford Schneider 1989 Skipwith slaves speech spoken corpus spoken Earlier AAE standard and nonstandard standard negation subcorpora subcorpus subject and non-subject subject relatives subject zero Table temporal tokens Tottie and Harvie V-ing variable variant varieties of English Wiley Winford WPAMS WPAVA zero copula