The Study of African-American Vernacular English
A look at the language developed by the African-Americans and its move from a “slang” to a recognized dialect of English.
This paper provides examples of the differences between standard English and African American Vernacular English (AAVE). It explains the development and history of this language and explores how it has been taught and passed down to the next generation. It also examines the roots and origins of AAVE and asks what the future holds.
“There are a couple of theories as to the origin of African American Vernacular Englsh (AAVE). Some linguists believe that the language derives from West African languages. This dialect theory is based on the knowledge that most African Americans who were brought to the United States from Africa had to learn how to speak English by ear. The may have picked up some of the English words incorrectly and incorporated the incorrect words in their language. Another theory is called the creole hypothesis. This theory bases its origin on the thought that slaves developed the language themselves. The slaves, who came from many different countries in Africa formulated AAVE so that they may talk amongst themselves. They developed with is called a pidgin by combining words from their own language with new words from America. They used grammar and speech patterns that were known to them from their own language as well. The language was then indirectly taught, or passed on to their children and children’s children. Future generations now know the AAVE language.”