Black English

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Related to African American Vernacular English: Ebonics

Black English

Black English, distinctive dialect spoken at times by as many as 80% to 90% of African Americans; also called ebonics [from ebony and phonics]. Long considered merely substandard English, it is in fact a distinct form. African slaves confronting white culture, and themselves speaking many different languages, developed a pidgin, mixing for the most part English vocabulary and African syntax, that developed into Black English. Much that seems grammatically incorrect actually represents consistent application of African structural principles. A social, rather than regional, dialect, it is similar in all parts of the United States, as research since the 1960s has shown. Its role in public education is a source of controversy because its effect on the process of learning to read and write is not clearly understood. In addition, its exclusive use by individuals has usually limited their opportunities for social advancement. See also Gullah.


See J. McWhorter, Talking Back, Talking Black (2017).

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Regional variations in the phonological characteristics of African American Vernacular English. World Englishes, 19(1), 39-58.
In using the phrase you know as the rhythmic basis of her poem, Cortez demonstrates the poetic potentiality of African American vernacular English.
"She say, She go, She be like: Verbs of Quotation Over Time in African American Vernacular English." American Speech 20.1 (2002): 3-31.
Yule has completely updated this undergraduate text and added new sections on language and culture, African American vernacular English, corpus linguistics, gender, gestures, slang, social markets, and speech accommodation.

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