Date: Fri, 9 Dec 1994 09:54:50 CST From: salikoko mufwene Subject: Re: The ADS crystal ball >> By now it seems more >> and more obvious that the cluster of varieties called American English have >> resulted from language contact. While there have been several isolated >> replies to the scholarship on the genesis of AAVE, replies which typically >> claim the British origin of several features, I am surprised that no >> serious attempt has been made to account for the transmission of these >> features and their reorganization (not necessarily with features from the >> same dialectal source in the British Isles) into American English. I thank Bill Kretzschmar and Tim Frazer for responding to my suggestion. I should clarify that I used "language contact" in a broad sense covering contact of dialects from the British Isles themselves. Imagine what must have happened when speakers from different parts of the Isles and speaking different regional varieties found themselves on the same location and interacted with each other on a regular basis. I realize it is a big mess to approach (just one of the components of accounting for feature selection in creole genesis!) but it would help to consider ways of facing a more satisfactory account of the development(s) of American English. In one recent authoritative reference of 1991 (which I'd better not identify, in respect to my distinguished colleague!) the explanation given was a traditional one: Americans have not participated in the changes that have taken place in the United Kingdom. This would account for things if, among other things, the British Isles then, today the United Kingdom, were linguistically (understand 'dialectally') homogeneous (with no regional nor social variation) and/or if people from the same background just came and resettled together in North America. We know this AIN'T so. The presence of people from other polities in Europe and elsewhere just made the picture more complex, even in treating Gullah and AAVE as separate phenomena (should we?). I thought initiating a discussion on the subject matter, perhaps going through the same kinds of polemics as on creole genesis, might help us come up with a less illusive conception of the genetic problem and think of the right research agenda to address it. Sali. Salikoko S. Mufwene University of Chicago Dept. of Linguistics 1010 East 59th Street Chicago, IL 60637 s-mufwene[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE] 312-702-8531; fax: 312-702-9861