Date: Sun, 20 Nov 1994 12:41:23 CST


Subject: Re: Recent Black English

In Message Sat, 19 Nov 1994 00:19:03 -0800,

Audrey Wright awright[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE] writes:

This is entirely possible. Mainly because most information on AAL/BE

refers to the'traditional' or most pure form of its usage. Over time, a

lot of African Americans are standardinzing the language. Then too,

there are some indications that the language is taking a different

direction by some users. The language/dialect is not a monolith. There

are many variations, both regional and social.

I buy the position that AAVE is not monolithic. I think that it has never

been monolithic. A close examination of the texts published by Walter Brasch

(1981, BLACK ENGLISH IN THE MASS MEDIA) suggests this conclusion. I would

then be more cautious in suggesting change without supportive diachronic

evidence. What would be the motivation for speakers to standardize their

vernacular? This is not to deny that people code-switch to a standard variety

in some contexts, by all means not all of them nor equally successfully.

Nor do I want to deny change (not any faster than in other varieties of

English), but change must be proved and not be used as a solution of

convenience. You did not say this of course, but this explanation has been

floating around.


Salikoko S. Mufwene

University of Chicago

Dept. of Linguistics

1010 East 59th Street

Chicago, IL 60637


312-702-8531; fax: 312-702-9861