Skip to main content

The English History of African American English

The English History of African American English

Shana Poplack (Editor)

ISBN: 978-0-631-21262-1

Jan 2000, Wiley-Blackwell

298 pages

Select type: Paperback

Out of stock



Much scholarly work assumes that the structure of African American Vernacular English (AAVE) derives from an earlier plantation creole. This volume explores an alternative hypothesis: that the characteristic features were acquired from the varieties of English to which early speakers were exposed.
List of Tables.

List of Maps.

List of Figures.

Series Editor's Preface.


List of Abbreviations.

List of Contributors.


Part I. Morphophonological Variables:.

1. Rephrasing the Copula: Contraction and Zero in Early African American English: James A. Walker.

2. Reconstructing the Source of Early African American English Plural Marking: A Comparative Study of English and Creole: Shana Poplack, Sali Tagliamonte, and Ejike Eze.

Part II: Morphosyntactic Variables:.

3. Negation and the Creole-Origins Hypothesis: Evidence from Early African American English: Darin M. Howe and James A. Walker.

4. Old as; New Ecology: Viewing English through the Sociolinguistic Filter: Sali Tagliamonte and Jennifer Smith.

Part III. Syntactic Variables:.

5. The Question: Auxiliary Inversion in Early African American English: Gerard Van Herk.

6. It's All Relative: Relativization Strategies in Early African American English: Gunnel Tottie and Dawn Harvie.

Part IV: The Sociohistorical Context:.

7. Some Sociohistorical Inferences about the Development of African American English: Salikoko S. Mufwene.



"These studies of the African American diaspora apply the most refined quantitative techniques to illuminate the history of African American English. The brilliant work of Poplack and her colleagues has sharply narrowed the limits of controversy on the origins of AAVE, with findings that every responsible scholar must take into account in future research." William Labov, University of Pennsylvania <!--end-->

"This scholarly work is revolutionary and extremely well researched. It vindicates one's cultural identity and the tremendous endurance of African resistance. Well done!" Henry Bishop, Chief Curator, Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia

"Poplack and her colleagues have raised the art and science of AAVE research to the highest level ever attained by variationist sociolinguistics, and this book is essential reading for any linguistic scholar who wants to know about the history and structure of AAE throughout North America. It is not too soon to declare [this book] a classic." Language in Society

"[The English History of African American English] constitutes both a treasure of information and an indispensable tool for linguistic investigation." Canadian Journal of Linguistics

"The English History of African American English represents the type of detailed study that should be conducted in the investigation of the origin and other issues in AAE. The book challenges the long-standing creole hypothesis but raises enough questions about the structure of Early AAE to keep the origin debate alive." Journal of Socialinguistics, 2003

* Each linguistic study in the volume analyzes a different variable feature of the same Early AAE varieties, making consistent use of cutting edge variationist methodology and systematic cross-variety comparison.
* Presents interesting facts about the linguistic history of non-standard English dialects and their relationship to AAVE.
* Linguistics facts are placed within the context of the sociohistorical and cultural matrix which led to their development.
* Includes numerous examples and tables.