Date: Sat, 19 Nov 1994 08:34:24 -0600
From: Natalie Maynor maynor[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]RA.MSSTATE.EDU
Subject: Re: Recent Black English
I've gotten similar reactions to what Tim Frazer reported regarding VBE.
One shouldn't be surprised that a "lect" changes in a generation, particularly
in salient usages that have the potential for social stigmatization. Is
the VBE lect of today's college-age African Americans supposed to be the
same as that of their parents' generation? The item that was called to my
attention was habitual BE, as in Tim's case.
It's quite unlikely that the speech of college-age African Americans is
exactly like that of their parents' generation, but I find the particular
example (use of invariant "be") surprising. Although I haven't collected
any data recently, these college-age speakers represent the same group
that Guy Bailey and I looked at extensively when they were approximately
junior-high age. At that time we found that their use of invariant "be"
was more frequent and more predictable (habitual action) than that of their
grandparents. We didn't collect as much data from their parents' generation.
--Natalie (maynor[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]ra.msstate.edu)