The Historical Evolution of Earlier African American English: An Empirical Comparison of Early Sources

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Mouton de Gruyter, 2002 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 335 pages
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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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About the author (2002)

Alexander Kautzsch is lecturer at the University of Regensburg, Germany.

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