Talk:African American Vernacular English

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edit·history·watch·refresh Stock post message.svg To-do list for African American Vernacular English:
  • Coverage of the sociolinguistic aspects, especially positive and negative views of this variety in the USA, should be improved, using reliable sources and with regard to weight. ...added by User:Itsmejudith on 27 January 2010
  • Additional examples of movies and television that depict AAVE. ...added by User:Aeusoes1 on 5 March 2010

Pop culture[edit]

I'm removing

==In popular culture==
* The (1980) comedy film Airplane! has scenes of jive talk with subtitles. Al White is Second Jive Dude and Barbara Billingsley is Jive Lady translator.

because it doesn't increase the reader's understanding of AAVE. If there's some other reason to include it, do please explain. -- Hoary (talk) 16:59, 22 January 2010 (UTC)

Agreed. These "in popular culture" sections are a bane to quality, and especially irrelevant when it comes to language related articles. — Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɛ̃ɾ̃ˡi] 19:37, 22 January 2010 (UTC)

Hi "bane to quality": I find this kind of comment very snobbish and rather puerile. An article should help to understand the subject. To the non technical person like myself, an example is worth many words. As a matter of fact, before watching the film, I was ignorant of the existence of AAVE, and jive, for that matter. Also, if you had the patience to follow the link, you would discover that there are two links back to this article, under the word "jive". I expect you think that the article on "Airplane!" and films in general are probably a "bane to quality" of wikipedia. From the height of your teaching experience, please justify the sentence "it doesn't increase the reader's understanding".Ziounclesi (talk) 09:36, 25 January 2010 (UTC)

We deprecate "Trivia" sections in articles, but, having mentioned it on this talk page, I have to say I think the Airplane scenes sheds a bit of light on how AAVE has been perceived. So can I work it back in under "Cultural references"? Itsmejudith (talk) 19:00, 25 January 2010 (UTC)
I suppose I should've been clearer. We deprecate trivia sections because they're poor ways of including information. I'm hesitent to mention Airplane, in part because it doesn't actually feature AAVE but a crude mockery of it but also because I'm not sure where it would go in the article. — Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɛ̃ɾ̃ˡi] 23:55, 25 January 2010 (UTC)
No, that was fine. There's been a tension for a long time over this article - which first drew my attention to it - over whether it is a linguistics article about AAVE or an article about the status of AAVE. It really has to be a bit of both, the straight linguistic description that it already does reasonably well, plus an amount of sociolinguistics. Mockery is, whether we like it or not, an aspect of the sociolinguistics. Another aspect is the straightforward opposition to use of the dialect on the part of Bill Cosby and others, and the defence and promotion of the dialect ("ebonics"). I'll have a look at where I think more sociolinguistic info can be put in, and suggest here on the talk page before editing. Itsmejudith (talk) 12:17, 26 January 2010 (UTC)
I'd like to see sound sociolinguistics about AAVE: a summary of the sociolinguistic work that's been done on it (and there has been a lot of this). By contrast, cobbling together quotations (however uninformed, bizarre or unintentionally ludicrous) by Cosby and others into a "sociolinguistics" section of the article risks a charge of "original synthesis". -- Hoary (talk) 14:34, 26 January 2010 (UTC)
Ziounclesi: I expect you think that the article on "Airplane!" and films in general are probably a "bane to quality" of wikipedia. I can't speak for Aeusoes1, but I do not think this. ¶ please justify the sentence "it doesn't increase the reader's understanding". Let's take a look at this "it": The (1980) comedy film Airplane! has scenes of jive talk with subtitles. Al White is Second Jive Dude and Barbara Billingsley is Jive Lady translator. I see nothing in that which increases understanding. If you do, what is it? Or should we actually write "One editor of this article had never heard of AAVE till they saw the movie Airplane"? ¶ This has nothing about a snobbish attitude toward Airplane: I have a pile of DVDs of "blaxploitation" films; most, perhaps all, have a lot of AAVE. I could list them, but I don't think doing so would have any explanatory value. ¶ Furthermore, Aeusoes1, who knows more about AAVE than I do, says Airplane (which I haven't seen) actually doesn't have AAVE. If it indeed doesn't, then this description of it is wrong and potentially misleading. ¶ Now, it's imaginable that the representation (whether faithful or false) of AAVE within Airplane does show something significant about certain attitudes toward AAVE. If so, what is it? -- Hoary (talk) 14:34, 26 January 2010 (UTC)
That's a good question, Hoary, and you've articulated my second concern better than I did. If we contextualize the Airplane! reference into a broader scope of social commentary, then it's more appropriate. We've done that a bit with the Cosby quote, and I suspect that many university libraries (if my own local university is any indicator) have lots of information on the sociolinguistics of AAVE, especially in a teaching context. — Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɛ̃ɾ̃ˡi] 21:53, 26 January 2010 (UTC)
A good first stop would be the relevant chapter(s) of Lisa J. Green's African American English: A Linguistic Introduction (CUP, 2002; ISBN 0-521-89138-8). I have a copy (and recommend one to anybody who doesn't) but lack the time to work with it any time very soon. Plus I always have difficulty summoning the patience needed for even a dispassionate summary of the stupid notions that pervade "popular attitudes" and newspaper punditry. -- Hoary (talk) 01:30, 27 January 2010 (UTC)
I added an item to the to-do list. I'll see if I can get that text. Itsmejudith (talk) 11:45, 27 January 2010 (UTC)
I've incorporated Green's discussion of mass media portrayals into the article, though I imagine there can be more added to it. — Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɛ̃ɾ̃ˡi] 01:41, 5 March 2010 (UTC)

Somehow I don't seem to be able to get the message across: history and phonetics are fine in a book, but an article about a language with only written examples is rather poor. Have you ever thought that the IPA is a poor substitute for an audio samlpe? This is a hyperlinked world with access to images, sound and video. This article does not even have a link to Media Wiki sources. I represent the casual reader who does not mind all the politically correctness (call it AAVE if you like), but find it wierd that 9 articles out of 10 on wikipedia itself will refer to it as "jive" and some editor "deprecates" a link to a source of examples (the above quoted film). So, leaving out any personal considerations, I have two suggestions:

  • find some audio or video examples (if you don't like Airplane, you can point out it is a bad example). Find some good films. Are there no blues singers who sing in AAVE?
  • work on the backlinks to articles that lead here. (no dead ends, please, and no bots replacing jive with AAVE through wikipedia (maybe Aeusoes1 can write the pronounciation for AAVE)).Ziounclesi (talk) 16:29, 7 February 2010 (UTC)
I'm not sure about non-linked references, but as far as what links here, compared it to what links to Jive (dialect), it seems like 9/10 articles isn't a thoroughly vigorous study. Audio samples would be nice, but just as all audio samples, they would have to be free license. — Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɛ̃ɾ̃ˡi] 19:21, 7 February 2010 (UTC)
I represent the casual reader who does not mind all the politically correctness (call it AAVE if you like): Are you implying that use of the term "AAVE" is "politically correct"; and if so, do you mean to say that various aspects of this article, including the use of the term "AAVE", are left-wing evasions of obvious truths? If not, what do you mean? -- Hoary (talk) 23:24, 7 February 2010 (UTC)
im sory hoary, but it seems as though you are not a casual reader, you use the word bane, and imply, evasion, and much more, you sound like a prude. It's pre-grads like you that want to sound fancy and therefore destroy the quality of wikipedia because nobody can actually connect to what is on the site. Wikipedia is useless thanks to pricks like you. Thanks. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:50, 10 March 2010 (UTC)
You might want to make a more careful reading of this discussion. It was I who used the word "bane" and Ziounclesi who referred to themself as a casual reader. I'm not sure who said "imply" or "evasion" or why use of these words (and the education they, well, imply) disqualifies one from casual activity nor what it has to do with one's approach to sexual matters.
If there's a part of the article that you find confusing or worded strangely, point it out. Pricks like me don't intentionally make the article overly fancy. — Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɛ̃ɾ̃ˡi] 03:54, 10 March 2010 (UTC)
I am not sure that AAVE is the same in California, Georgia and New York. I know that in Brooklyn, NY 'Yo, wassup son' is a standard greeting. But is that how fluent AAVE speakers greet each other in other locations? So putting an audio link will only show an audio-snapshot of AAVE at a particular location. Also, (in my view), some users of Wikipedia may cry racism since the observation 'he speaks so well' regarding an African-American implies that he is not fluent in AAVE and thus somehow more acceptable. Meishern (talk) 14:46, 16 March 2010 (UTC)
There are a number of factors involved, but the idea is that since not much time has passed since the Great Migration of the early 20th century, the grammatical particularities of AAVE have not diverged much from each other regionally. Certainly urban youth jargon is different regionally, but that's not grammar (and it's not stable). I'm not sure why someone would cry racism if we have audio links connected to examples. If it happens, we can cross that bridge when we come to it. — Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɛ̃ɾ̃ˡi] 19:42, 16 March 2010 (UTC)

Sociolinguistic aspects[edit]

Itsmejudith, I'd like to address the item you added in the to do list back in January. I've edited the "Social context" section (which is where sociolinguistic aspects would go) to make the positive-negative views more overt, though it was mostly a matter of reshuffling information that was already in the article. I'm not sure if I've done it to your (or anyone else's) satisfaction or what you mean by "weight"

I'm also sure that the second paragraph, which details more of the studies done on AAVE and scholarly opinions regarding it, can be beefed up considerably. — Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɛ̃ɾ̃ˡi] 01:45, 6 March 2010 (UTC)

Absolutely fine by me. Many thanks for your efforts. In fact I was wondering whether the article was ready for Good Article? The only glaring thing is that we should avoid references in the lede. And we have a good many references and perhaps could do without some, while adding others as you say. Itsmejudith (talk) 14:00, 8 March 2010 (UTC)


I think we could improve the lede paragraph. Best practice is to avoid notes in the lede because it should only be a summary of material that is properly referenced in the article body. I'm not sure that we're picking out the most important points from the article. Views? Itsmejudith (talk) 16:23, 10 March 2010 (UTC)

I've started working on moving citations out, but you're right that the lede doesn't quite summarize the content of the article anymore. I'll see if I can't take a stab at modifying it, and see what people think. — Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɛ̃ɾ̃ˡi] 19:13, 10 March 2010 (UTC)

fluency and mimicry[edit]

This was added:

However, 30 years after Smitherman's research, inner-city Caucasian, Asians and Middle-Eastern students comfortably converse with their fellow African-American students, each other and at home using the AAVE dialect. Due to the popularity of hip-hop music, many suburban students in homogenized, primarily Caucasian schools are also fluent in the AAVE dialect. This form of mimicry demonstrates a growing trend of teenagers to emulate their role-models who tend to be fluent in African American Vernacular English.

My guess is that there's some truth to this (although the notion that fluency in a lect is a matter of "mimicry" seems a quaint throw-back to the 1950s). But anyway, it's entirely unsourced. If it, or something like it, can be sourced authoritatively, it can be readded.

Incidentally, the editor who added this paragraph also made this bizarre pair of edits to an article on a related subject. -- Hoary (talk) 00:18, 15 March 2010 (UTC)

The addition has a ring of OR verisimilitude. If it's added with a citation, you can bet I'll be fact checking it. — Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɛ̃ɾ̃ˡi] 05:58, 15 March 2010 (UTC)
I think I should warn you that I may have a political agenda or be full of hot air. -- Hoary (talk) 12:01, 15 March 2010 (UTC)
There might be some citable research out there on the topic. Of course it is interesting to see what happens when people speaking different lects interact on a daily basis. See Multicultural London English. But any addition needs to be properly sourced. Let the editor see what s/he can provide. Itsmejudith (talk) 11:35, 16 March 2010 (UTC)
Give me some time Hoary, I can't get the research paper in 24 hours. Your disbelief that Fortune 500 companies prefer to hire employees who speak standard English rather than AAVE is peculiar. In a global business environment, an employee must be able to communicate in a standardized format with co-workers throughout the world. I am not sure what is so shocking about this concept. Meishern (talk) 14:26, 16 March 2010 (UTC)
Take your time, take your time. -- Hoary (talk) 14:44, 16 March 2010 (UTC)
Hoary, I am unable to reference what I wrote (in either article) and so far can't produce the same research paper I used as a basis to edit. I am not a linguist but have an acute memory and know I read an accepted publication in Brooklyn College 15 year ago regarding this topic and paraphrased its conclusions in my edits from memory. The edits I made were not bizarre, perhaps the word 'unpolished' suits better, yet they were not malicious inventions either. Thats besides the point since I can't reference them. I take back (what turned out to be my own hot air) that you 'have a political agenda and full of hot air' and apologize to you. My hat (if I wore one) is off to you for protecting this article from unreferenced information. I am not giving up in my search, now more for my own curiosity than for Wikipedia. Cheers! Meishern (talk) 14:04, 21 March 2010 (UTC)
Apology happily accepted; now let's move on. -- Hoary (talk) 15:47, 21 March 2010 (UTC)


As a non-African American, I take offense to calling the way of speaking that is popular by my generation and region (and I'm sure I'm not unique) by such nomenclature. It's probably my misunderstanding, but, if anything, this does not seem to need a separate page from Southern American English, but rather a subsection on that page. If there are marked differences, could they at least be more clearly pointed out because currently it seems that this is a distinction without a difference. (talk) 18:55, 24 July 2010 (UTC)

Eventually, it'll get added to the article, but the distinction between the two is laid out in Guy Bailey's chapter "The relationship between African American Vernacular English and White Vernaculars in the American South" and Patricia Cukor-Avila's chapter "Co-existing grammars", both in Sociocultural and historical contexts of African American English (2001). Right now at least, though, the section on tense and aspect shows a marked distinction between AAVE and SWV. — Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɛ̃ɾ̃ˡi] 19:16, 24 July 2010 (UTC)

I agree with the fact that the title is offensive and racist. I am not African-American. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:29, 5 September 2010 (UTC)

This, along with "African American English" is the most common term. What do you call it? — Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɛ̃ɾ̃ˡi] 19:14, 5 September 2010 (UTC)

Also, as a non--African-American, I take offense to the nomenclature "African American Vernacular English". However, my reasons are quite different from those stated below. It's my understanding that the more modern linguists have dropped the "vernacular" part of the title as it is subtly condescending in tone. None of the other dialects linguists usually write or speak about are labeled "vernacular". We just say "British English" and "American English" for the macro-dialects, and none of the other sub-dialects carry the "vernacular" label. Why are the African-American English speakers labelled differently? What purpose does that word serve other than to emphasize the disrespect many feel towards this native dialect? Clairerzegocki (talk) 01:07, 27 May 2011 (UTC)

I think the idea behind adding vernacular is to clarify that this is not the speech of all distinctly African American speech communities. There is, in that sense, a difference between AAVE and what might be called a broader group of Black Englishes. I haven't found anything that argues that adding "vernacular" is condescending; is this something you've seen? — Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɛ̃ɾ̃ˡi] 01:26, 27 May 2011 (UTC)
Even without clear indications that linguists working in this area avoid "vernacular" because it may seem condescending, I think that Clairerzegocki may be on to something. Lisa Green skips the "V" of "AAVE"; so does Peter Patrick. A little later, I'll see whether Green explains her choice of name. (Patrick does not comment on his choice.) -- Hoary (talk) 03:00, 27 May 2011 (UTC)


Well of course Americans of African descent have no inherent difference from anybody else. And of course they (you) are capable of speaking just as eloquently as anyone else. Precisely where does the article suggest otherwise? -- Hoary (talk) 14:53, 14 February 2012 (UTC)

DoJ seeking "translators"[edit]

"Several creolists. . . ."[edit]

We're told:

Several creolists, including William Stewart, John Dillard, and John Rickford, argue that AAVE shares so many characteristics with creole dialects spoken by black people in much of the world that AAVE itself is a creole, while others maintain that there are no significant parallels.

I think that something like this has been with us since 10 November 2008. In this very recent version, it came with six footnotes:

  1. Smith and Crozier (1998:113-114)
  2. Wardhaugh (2002:341)
  3. Pullum (1997)
  4. Poplack (2000)
  5. Poplack & Tagliamonte (2001)
  6. Rickford (1998)

Of these six, Pullum 1997 and Rickford 1998 didn't point anywhere. I was able to retrieve the referent of the former from the summary of the 10 Nov '08 edit, and added it. I pulled the latter.

So anyway the result is

Several creolists, including William Stewart, John Dillard, and John Rickford, argue that AAVE shares so many characteristics with creole dialects spoken by black people in much of the world that AAVE itself is a creole

-- Ah-hah. I think I understand this. But where does each of these three argue this? Not one single source is specified. --

while others maintain that there are no significant parallels.

I don't even know what "there are no significant parallels" means. Perhaps "it isn't"? (Come to think of it, even "others" is ambiguous. Other creolists? Other scholars? [In view of one of the names:] Other people who like to pontificate?)

Whatever it's all about, the reader hazily infers that it's backed up by the works of such diverse people as Geoff Pullum -- who unsurprisingly (as his interests are rarely diachronic) says very little about genetic or even typological matters in the source that's cited -- and the remarkable Ernie Smith. Pullum believes it's English; as he has reminded us, Smith is very sure that it isn't.

The introduction needs radical revision, I fear. -- Hoary (talk) 00:45, 27 August 2010 (UTC)

Let's see if I can't find something in my notes...
  • Stewart, William A. (1964). Non-standard Speech and the Teaching of English. Washington, D.C.: Center for Applied Linguistics. 
  • Stewart, William A. (1969), "On the use of Negro dialect in the teaching of reading", in Baratz, Joan; Shuy, Roger, Teaching Black Children to Read, Washington, D.C.: Center for Applied Linguistics, pp. 156–219 
  • Dillard, J.L. (1972). Black English: Its History and Usage in the United States. New York: Random House. 
In these texts, the authors alternate between Gullah and AAVE to show the latter as distinctive and to present evidence for a creole origin.
  • Rickford, John R. (1997), "Prior creolization of AAVE? Sociohistorical and textual evidence from the 17th and 18th centuries", Journal of Sociolinguistics 1: 315–336 
This is a relatively recent example of the Creolist position (which originated in the 1960s). This is all, of course, according to these two chapters in Sociocultural and Historical Contexts of African American English
  • Mufwene, Salikoko (2001), "What is African American English?", in Lanehart, Sonja, Sociocultural and Historical Contexts of African American English, Varieties of English Around the World, Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company 
  • Bailey, Guy (2001), "The relationship between African American Vernacular English and White Vernaculars in the American South: A sociocultural history and some phonological evidence", in Lanehart, Sonja, Sociocultural and Historical Contexts of African American English, Varieties of English Around the World, Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company 
Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɛ̃ɾ̃ˡi] 03:38, 27 August 2010 (UTC)

Splendid. We now have the first half of this sentence (the half whose meaning is clear) sourced. (I hope you like the footnote I've just added.) Now onto the second half, sourced but with unclear meaning. I suggest that we put aside the sources, talk of it being a variety of English, and source that. -- Hoary (talk) 05:49, 27 August 2010 (UTC)

missing ref[edit]

The reference of note 15, to "Read 1939" is missing. What is it? trespassers william (talk) 21:09, 19 October 2010 (UTC)

Hmm, apparantly I'm the one who added it. It's probably fairly easy to find...fixed — Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɛ̃ɾ̃ˡi] 03:29, 20 October 2010 (UTC)

Why ain't they a AAVE version of Wikipedia?[edit]

Wes all be knowing dat AAVE be legit idomatically. My qwestshon be: why aint we got no wiki dat be written in de AAVE stylings? Why caint dont they have one in they wiki?

They be havin wikiz in languanges like spanish and German, but how come no AAVE? It be legit. They be a bunch of peeps who be speakin' it. Sos why ain't we gots none?

How can we get done start a new language wiki? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:40, 12 November 2010 (UTC)

You are easily excited; your energies would better suit some other website, perhaps one of your own. -- Hoary (talk) 15:15, 12 November 2010 (UTC)
This was obviously a troll. You guys need to be better at recognizing it. @Hoary And it's kind of funny how you're labeling and attempting to separate/distinguish groups (age or demographic). - M0rphzone (talk) 01:43, 14 April 2012 (UTC)
Sometimes, calling a troll a troll is an act of troll-feeding. Sometimes, all it takes is not taking the bait and they move on. — Ƶ§œš¹ [ãːɱ ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɪ̃ə̃nlɪ] 01:51, 14 April 2012 (UTC)
(..why did you guys even bother replying in the first place? You took the bait, but I would've thought there would be funnier replies. That's the whole point of (/reason of the IP) posting something like this - to see others' reactions and laugh your ass off. But too bad nothing funny happened.) - M0rphzone (talk) 23:46, 14 April 2012 (UTC)
Perhaps, M0rphzone, you have just answered your own question, and perhaps Ƶ§œš¹ and I aren't as stupid as it would seem that you suppose. -- Hoary (talk) 06:52, 15 April 2012 (UTC)
Hopefully not. - M0rphzone (talk) 21:46, 16 April 2012 (UTC)
The strongest reason there ain't no AAVE version of Wikipedia is that dialects of English, they part of the same literary tradition. That's why there different ways to depict it in writing (people use eye dialect, spelling pronunciation, and even syntax). — Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɛ̃ɾ̃ˡi] 17:51, 12 November 2010 (UTC)

How about —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:38, 8 December 2010 (UTC)

For several reasons, any one of which is sufficient. Here's one: unlike for example "en", "ebonics" is not an ISO 639 abbreviation. -- Hoary (talk) 05:34, 10 February 2011 (UTC)

Why is Ebonics/AAVE not as official as the Scots Leid option available on wikipedia? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:39, 10 February 2011 (UTC)

See Language proposal policy, and particularly the list of four "requisites for eligibility". Note that AAVE fails numbers 2 and 3 of these four. And if this answer does not satisfy you, then take up the matter at Talk:Language proposal policy. -- Hoary (talk) 05:34, 10 February 2011 (UTC)

Requisite 2: "What? You don't have an ISO 639?!" I guess that response makes sense for people who like to illogically self-reference their formal systems in order to determine a false authenticity to their language. Requisite 3: Please see the Scots Leid home page for an excellent example of a "language" that doesn't pass muster. Even the descriptions of the linguistic forms are written in the Queen's English. It looks disingenuous, that's all I'm saying. I know, I know. Take it up with someone else and lose my anti-bureaucratic nature if I want to post on wikipedia. Sometimes I forget. comment added by (talk) 06:10, 10 February 2011

You seem uninterested in AAVE and only interested in Scots. That's an additional reason to take up the matter elsewhere (if anywhere). Meanwhile, if you would like to contribute encyclopedic material to some Wikipedia article, your anti-bureaucratic nature need not hinder you any more than my own hinders me. If you wish to reply to this, please do so on my talk page, as any further discussion would be irrelevant to the article about AAVE. -- Hoary (talk) 07:06, 10 February 2011 (UTC)

"Pointless and unexplained deletion"[edit]

On this.

Let's suppose I'm writing a descriptive grammar of Japanese in which I provide the following.

  • Sigoto simasu.
  • [He] works.

Plucked out of context, it sounds bare. But in context (e.g. in response to a question about what the man does when he goes to Osaka), it's fine.

Now somebody changes this to:

  • Kayoobi-ni sigoto simasu.
  • [He] works on Tuesdays.

Well, OK, but there are now more ingredients to gloss/label (though I'm not going to do so here). So I'd remove the bits about Tuesday. I'd be surprised if I then saw my edit reverted with the comment Pointless and unexplained deletion. -- Hoary (talk) 01:08, 12 February 2011 (UTC)

I completely fail to see how your use of a Japanese example has anything to do with AA Vernacular English. The example in the article is "He be workin' Tuesdays", which in standard English is expressed as "He works frequently or habitually on Tuesdays." If we omit the "Tuesdays" part and instead write "He be workin'", you then don't have the information that "workin' Tuesdays" means "working on Tuesdays" (emphasis added). Not only is it a "pointless and unexplained deletion", it deprives the reader of important information. Cresix (talk) 01:22, 12 February 2011 (UTC)
I don't recall if the notion that AAVE grammar is constructed so that one needn't have on is backed up by the sources provided (particularly Green 2002). My recent motivation was, as Hoary says, that adding Tuesdays creates extra elements to gloss, which dilutes the basic point about tense/aspect. Nevertheless, I am the one who put in "Tuesdays" and, short of accessing the sources again, I'm willing to trust the earlier version of myself that was closer to them (I must've known what I was doing then); either way, if we have it in the example, we should have it in the gloss. — Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɛ̃ɾ̃ˡi] 04:42, 12 February 2011 (UTC)
Just in case it helps, "he works Tuesdays", without the "on" is the normal colloquial form in many varieties of British English. So I wouldn't particularly expect "on" in AAVE. Itsmejudith (talk) 08:44, 12 February 2011 (UTC)

"I completely fail to see how your use of a Japanese example has anything to do with AA Vernacular English."

This type of misreading of an analogy is so common that there should be a name for it. It takes this form:

First speaker: A is to B as C is to D.

Second speaker: What the hell? C is nothing like A! You're saying that C is A. (talk) 21:02, 18 January 2013 (UTC)

Tenses and "be"[edit]

I see in the table of tenses that it gives "We be singing" as an example of present tense, and "I'm a-sing" as an example of "immediate future" tense (or phase). Is the difference in the form of the verb "to be" due to the different number (singular versus plural) or to the different tense? In other words, does one say "I be singing" (or I be singin') for the present tense, or "I'm singin'"? And for the immediate future, does one say "We're a-sing" or "We be a-sing"? In fact, how does one use the verb "to be" for the different persons and numbers? Eric Kvaalen (talk) 20:17, 5 March 2011 (UTC)

The difference is not due to number or person, but (as the table indicates) to a different phase/tense. So the first person singular of present tense would be "I be singing" and the first person plural of immediate future would, I believe, be "We're a-sing." As far as I can tell, be is conjugated for person and number in the same way as Standard English with the exception that were isn't used in the past tense. — Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɛ̃ɾ̃ˡi] 21:28, 5 March 2011 (UTC)
That's not clear from the table. Are you sure?
I realize that "am", "is", and "are" exist, but the speakers also use "be" sometimes where we would use one of the finite forms. So what's the rule?
Eric Kvaalen (talk) 11:05, 6 March 2011 (UTC)
I am sure, since I put the table there. Would it be clearer if the examples used the same person and verb?
This table and the one below it outline when AAVE speakers use be in ways that are different than Standard English. — Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɛ̃ɾ̃ˡi] 17:29, 6 March 2011 (UTC)
Yes, it would be clearer if the examples used the same person and number.
The tables don't answer the question (for example) of how one says "I'm here". "I'm here" or "I be here"?
Eric Kvaalen (talk) 07:59, 7 March 2011 (UTC)
As far as I can tell, "I be here" is not grammatical in Standard English or AAVE. — Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɛ̃ɾ̃ˡi] 16:53, 7 March 2011 (UTC)
Dude, can you even be having "standard" AAVE? It be a pidgin dialect, sos they ain't nothin "standard" 'bout it?!! Do I be verisimilitudinous? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:09, 20 April 2011 (UTC)
Pretty much, though "pidgin" isn't very accurate, given the definition of pidgin. One theory of AAVE's origins is that of a slave creole that has become decreolized to become closer grammatically to some form of Standard English, though this is far from an agreed upon explanation. — Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɛ̃ɾ̃ˡi] 03:28, 20 April 2011 (UTC)

Verb "to fly it" needs explanation[edit]

The box of verb conjugations at African_American_Vernacular_English#Tense_and_aspect is great but I can't understand what is supposed to be meant by that use of the verb "fly".

Are these examples of how a person can talk about having flown a plane? I be flying the plane right now. Since I've never heard a pilot talking jive, the example is jarring and leaves me thinking that it has some other meaning that requires slang knowledge that I don't have (and which I don't see explained in the article).

Can someone who understands it add an explanation to the article, or replace "fly it" with a more everyday verb? Thanks. Gronky (talk) 00:13, 11 July 2011 (UTC)

Removing a junk EL[edit]

I've just now removed this from the list of external links and further reading:

That tells us: Michael King is a member of the African-American leadership network Project 21 and an Internet and radio broadcaster in Atlanta, Georgia. There's no claim that he's a linguist. And it's obvious that he isn't one. First, he confuses "slang" (words or a set of words) with a lect. Specifically, he says: Ebonics is not a language. All it is is black slang. Having said that, it doesn't elaborate on it or even give examples. Instead, he launches into the "Ebonics debate" (i.e. of whether or not to use AAVE when teaching small children whose first language -- or maybe in his terms whose "first slang" -- is AAVE). And for this, all he does is summarize the book by University of California-Berkeley Linguistics Professor John McWhorter, Word on the Street: Debunking the Myth of "Pure" Standard English. Offhand I don't know whether or not his summary, as far as it goes, is accurate; what I can say is that the summary hardly starts: King says next to nothing about the content of the book.

I understand that there is a demand for "balance" in WP articles and a certain enjoyment real or apparent "controversy" and also a long-running delight in poohpooing "ivory-tower" intellectualism and speaking from the gut. Now, AAVE is a basilect, and it's a widely known fact of sociolinguistics that basilects are stigmatized (when not seen as amusing). Unlike most basilects, AAVE is not obviously declining; it's used with pride by plenty of its speakers, and these are [gasp!] Black within a chronically race-obsessed nation. But a demand to balance level-headed linguistics with tut-tutting by people who clearly know nothing of linguistics is rather like a demand to balance evolution with "intelligent design", or neuroscience with phrenology. That plenty of the people who tut-tut most loudly are themselves Black (Bill Cosby is prominent) is an interesting sociological fact but it does not make what they say any more credible. -- Hoary (talk) 00:23, 26 August 2011 (UTC)

I agree with you in the removal. We weren't using that source anyway. — Ƶ§œš¹ [ãːɱ ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɪ̃ə̃nlɪ] 22:59, 24 December 2011 (UTC) (talk) 22:49, 28 April 2013 (UTC)

african american vernacular english is a subtly racist misnomer[edit]

If not then it would imply that Africans brought to America as slaves learned language for the first time from European slaveowners, verifying the etymology for vernacular and connecting its development of pidginization (or creole-ism), a more political rather than linguistic implication . 'Verna' is 'native' is 'slave born in masters house'.

So AAVE refers to the masters language picked up by the house slave as their pidgin, or native tongue.

This is why there is a segment of the population, linguists, scientists, general citizens, who do not ascribe to AAVE in describing the reality of the existence of a language spoken by african slave descendants of northern central southern america and the carribean; that has a niger -congo grammar but uses an american english lexicon. This must me made clear in this topic. Eliminiate the general term as AAVE, either call it ebonics , or african american language, to be neutral. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:16, 31 October 2011 (UTC)

But instead of waiting for a reply to this message of yours, you vandalized the article. I hope that this was a one-time aberration.
Whatever the language is that is spoken by a large percentage of Blacks in the US, and that has clear differences from Standard American English, it's a language. Ergo, it's a matter of linguistics. You say:
there is a segment of the population, linguists, scientists, general citizens, who do not ascribe to AAVE in describing the reality of the existence of a language spoken by african slave descendants of northern central southern america and the carribean; that has a niger -congo grammer but uses an american english lexicon.
The opinion of scientists in general and of "general citizens" is by the way. The informed opinion of linguists is what matters. The occasional person loosely describable as a linguist has indeed occasionally put forward the notion that what's here called AAVE has a Niger-Congo grammar. I've never seen any sign that this has convinced other linguists. Have I missed something important? I've also never seen a book that shows how this language (however you want to call it) has a Niger-Congo grammar. Can you name one? The level-headed books that do describe this language do indeed differ over what to call it (and this article lists the alternatives), but they all describe it as a form of English. If you think that neutrality requires the removal from the article of names that include "English", and thus a silence over, or refutation of, books by John Baugh, John Dillard, Lisa Green, William Labov, Salikoko Mufwene, Shana Poplack, John Rickford, and others, then you're going to have to change your ideas about neutrality. And if, instead of citing others' published arguments, you would like to argue that for example
[Either] african american vernacular english is a subtly racist misnomer [or] it would imply that Africans brought to America as slaves learned language for the first time from European slaveowners, verifying the etymology for vernacular and connecting its development of pidginization (or creole-ism), a more political rather than linguistic implication .
then you'll have to find some other website on which to do so: this kind of thing is not what Wikipedia talk pages are for. -- Hoary (talk) 08:58, 1 November 2011 (UTC)
Wikipedia is a public domain, I did not know that it was a scientific journal. As far as the study of african languages, especially the ones spoken in america, this is a relatively new and small research area. My main point, that you glossed over, was the concern with the term AAVE to describe such reality. The use of the term AAVE is not scientific. Please clarify the distinctions between EBonics, AAVE, Black English, Creole, Pidgin, etc. better. Of course if 'you' feel that you have done so and think the 'the scientists' agree with you. Nothing will change and this wikipedia reference to such matters will remain inaccurate. But if, however you are interested in providing to wikipedia users accurate and objective information regarding such matters, let's continue to dialogue (I've seen the bias shown towards Dr. Smith in these discussion forms). — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:55, 2 November 2011 (UTC)
The content of Wikipedia is not in the public domain and it does not belong to the public.
You say:
My main point, that you glossed over, was the concern with the term AAVE to describe such reality. The use of the term AAVE is not scientific.
It's the term that is, or it's one of the terms that are, most widely used among linguists. (Its rivals certainly don't include "Ebonics".) That's good enough. Further, there is virtual consensus among interested linguists that what it describes is a vernacular lect of English that's used by African Americans, and therefore the term seems accurate. As far as I am aware, the notion that this language is not English is only held by a fringe, and only very rarely makes it into print anywhere of consequence, and so should be dealt with accordingly. I'm open to being proved to be wrong about this: please let me know of either (i) any academic book from a university press or comparable publisher that is primarily about this language and treats it as something other than English, or (ii) any serious encyclopedia of linguistics or languages that treats this language as something other than English. -- Hoary (talk) 03:28, 3 November 2011 (UTC)
"Vernacular", nowadays, has nothing to do with slaves and masters, whatever its etymology. It means "everyday", "colloquial". Which is accurate here, and not racist. Itsmejudith (talk) 16:24, 3 November 2011 (UTC)
For example, the English, German, French, and other European languages are commonly called "vernacular" when contrasted with the classical languages (Greek, Hebrew, Latin). Verna is indeed Latin for a "home-born slave," but the related adjective vernaculus could be (and was) applied to anything "domestic" or "native to a place." The English word vernacular shifts the meaning still further, referring to the practices of "ordinary people in a specific place." The English word implies no trace of a connection to the practice of slavery. — ℜob C. alias ÀLAROB 17:52, 3 November 2011 (UTC)

Concerning 'verna', no matter how much a word or term has evolved, that its original meaning is never totally removed from its current usage. Lastly, none of the linguistics sources you cite specialize or show a competence in african language structures. Becuase African- Language Structures are rarely studied in America. Most American linguists are transformationalists (universal grammarians) or pidgin-creolists. Pidgin-Creolist minded linguists validate the AAVE appelation. By looking at linguists who specialize in African structures (Smith, Welmers, Kambon, etc.) or the linguistic properties of the Niger-Congo language family, hopefully you will be able to see why apples are not oranges, even though they both are pieces of fruit! Speaking an African language (called Niger Congo) is not the same as speaking a variety or dialect of English. (talk) 22:45, 28 April 2013 (UTC)

If you're saying that the original meaning of a word is not totally removed from its current meaning, thanks to a chain of partial overlaps, then of course you're right. This is what happened with what's now the word "vernacular". If on the other hand you want to say that the meaning of a word somehow includes, or necessarily reminds literate users of, its earlier meanings, then just off the top of my head I give you as counterexamples "lumber" (see Nicholson Baker's essay on that one word) and "shambles". (Please also note the "etymological fallacy", here at the Fallacy Files.) ¶ William E. Welmers was a real linguist, best known for his African Language Structures (1973), a book with which I regret to say that I'm unfamiliar but which sounds most impressive. NB it was published before many of today's linguists were born, and linguistics knowledge has advanced. This is no reason to reject it out of hand, but is reason to think hard before citing it. Who are Smith and Kambon? More broadly, whoever your "linguists who specialize in African structures" may be, which university presses -- or academic publishers of similar standing (DeGruyter, Wiley, Benjamins, etc) -- have recently published their work, and where? -- Hoary (talk) 00:06, 29 April 2013 (UTC)


Were is this dialect most common?


I highly doubt it, but would an African-American from Seattle in the state of Washington speak in this dialect or the same way as an African-American from Chicago or Detroit?

(Esterhase (talk) 02:43, 11 December 2011 (UTC))

Idk, probably cities like Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Detroit, Toronto, Miami, Atlanta, New Orleans, etc. (pretty much all major cities). For the dialect difference, I think it depends which area they're from.

On a side note, I'm noticing some changes in the English language such as people not using "on" when they use "depends" as I did in the previous sentence (it sounds pretty normal though). I'm also noticing the decrease in the usage of "that". For example: instead of saying, "The fact is that there is blah blah blah," people just drop the "that" and say, "The fact is there is blah blah." - M0rphzone (talk) 02:03, 14 April 2012 (UTC)

Well, every natural language changes, and neither English nor the early 21st century is an exception. There are plenty of ways that could be listed. However, I see nothing new about either of your two examples. (And my username hints at my personal antiquity, and likely sensitivity to change from the English acquired in my distant infancy.) Now, if by contrast you'd told me that your young friends were saying "It depends [on] the result of the match" or "That's the car [that] won the Indy 500", I would be surprised. -- Hoary (talk) 02:27, 14 April 2012 (UTC)

"African American Language"?[edit]

The article starts

African American Vernacular English (AAVE) — recently called African American Language (AAL) also called African American English [. . .]

Which linguists (or others whose terminology merits serious consideration) call it "African American Language"? I googled for the term, and by far the most impressive hit was for U Mass Amherst's Center for the Study of African American Language (CSAAL). The "About us" page there says that CSAAL is headed by Lisa Green, who wrote one excellent book on AAVE (and at least one other relevant book, which I don't know). OK, very impressive. But the page merits reading. It says:

The study of African American language to be carried out in the context of the Center includes at its core linguistic research on the variety known as African American English (AAE), which is spoken, in varying degrees, by a large number of African Americans in the United States.

So it uses "African American English", not "African American language" (small "L"), to refer to what our article calls AAVE.

All this considered, I'd remove the curiously conspicuous reference to AAL pronto, if it weren't for enthusiasm for putting "Ebonics" in boldface (see below). -- Hoary (talk) 00:29, 19 April 2013 (UTC)

Nobody objected, so I removed it. -- Hoary (talk) 02:39, 1 May 2013 (UTC)

"Ebonics" in boldface?[edit]

Here's the start of the article, as of 12 April:

African American Vernacular English (AAVE) — recently called African American Language (AAL) also called African American English; less precisely Black English, Black Vernacular, Black English Vernacular (BEV), or Black Vernacular English (BVE)—is an African American variety (dialect, ethnolect, and sociolect) of American English. Non-linguists sometimes call it Ebonics (a term that also has other meanings and connotations).

Now a series of edits:

"We do" . . . what? Put all alternative terms mentioned in the lead in bold, perhaps.

"MOSBOLD" tells us that

The most common use of boldface is to highlight the article title, and often synonyms, in the lead section. This is done for the majority of articles, but there are exceptions.

No mention here of an obligation to use boldface.

It goes on to refer us to WP:MoS/Lead_section for detail. The relevant part is:

Only the first occurrence of the title and significant alternative titles are placed in bold

Note that this again doesn't mention an obligation to use boldface. (Further, it's about the first sentence, and the mention of Ebonics comes in the second sentence.)

Within that, "alternative titles" is linked to WP:Article titles. But this says nothing about boldface.

I see no reason to put "Ebonics" in boldface. Yes, it's a significant term, but it's a confusing one. It's correctly mentioned in the first paragraph (and even set off in italics), and this mention, sans boldface, is sufficiently conspicuous. -- Hoary (talk) 00:29, 19 April 2013 (UTC)

Percentage-wise, how often do you think a reader will search for "Ebonics" in an effort to get to a page that covers this topic? — Ƶ§œš¹ [ãːɱ ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɪ̃ə̃nlɪ] 01:11, 19 April 2013 (UTC)
I've no idea. Ctrl/Command-F searching will quickly find it. Are you suggesting that visually it should be more conspicuous than via a mere italicized mention in the lead paragraph? (Right now it's in bold and italics, and is thus set off more strongly than any of the alternatives.) -- Hoary (talk) 02:07, 19 April 2013 (UTC)
Actually, it's bold, italics, and a link. This is technically correct, as terms are normally in italics and MOS:BOLDTITLE prompts us to put it in bold. However, I think we can get away with just two of the three. The nice thing about keeping the bold is that it helps reinforce to the reader that they are in the right place. Would you be all right with bold and a link? — Ƶ§œš¹ [ãːɱ ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɪ̃ə̃nlɪ] 15:47, 21 April 2013 (UTC)
I've rethought this a little. OK, bold in order to reassure people that they're in the right place. And then perhaps italics too, in order to set off this term from the others. (Certainly the link should stay.) -- Hoary (talk) 02:41, 1 May 2013 (UTC)

Black English?[edit]

The beginning of this article also calls AAVE African American or Black English. This seems to imply that this is the official dialect African Americans speak, which it certainly is not. If nobody objects, I'll remove it. --Evolvo365247 (talk) 02:58, 24 August 2013 (UTC)

I don't see how that would be implied.User:Maunus ·ʍaunus·snunɐw· 11:14, 24 August 2013 (UTC)

Regional difference[edit]

I know there are regional differences according to linguistics, though I don't know the specific papers. I would like to see a section dedicated to that as well.--Hitsuji Kinno (talk) 19:28, 9 February 2014 (UTC)

A "Good Article" nominee?[edit]

This article has become a Good Article nominee. This surprises me. I don't see any discussion above about whether it qualifies as a GA, let alone agreement not only (A) to nominate it but also (B) to dedicate energy and time to attending to the pile of annoying questions and objections (some of them of course justified) that nomination leads to. All I see is a suggestion made four years ago (a suggestion to which nobody agreed).

As the nominator only made her first edit a couple of months ago, I'd guess that she might be unfamiliar with the rigmarole that GA nomination tends to trigger.

This is an article into which a lot of work has been poured. But a lot of this has been merely to fend off uninformed and silly attempts at change for the worse (some of these attempts citing newspaper columnists and other ignoramuses). I don't think the article is bad but I also don't think it's good. Time and energy permitting (and I'm not sure if they would), I could make whatever improvements are required for syntax and morphology. I'm not qualified to attend to the rest.

I suggest that the nomination is removed pronto. But I'm open to reasoning to the contrary. -- Hoary (talk) 03:27, 1 March 2014 (UTC)

Sorry, is the article not good? I've referred to it a few times over the past few years and really felt it to be helpful and well written. I'm new to wikipedia. Is it not as good as I thought it was? Is this not how things are done here? I can take it down if it's going to bother people. I just wanted to show my appreciation for the article. Bali88 (talk) 03:31, 1 March 2014 (UTC)
Please take a look at Talk:Stoke_sub_Hamdon_Priory/GA1 for a recent example of a GA nomination that seems to have gone smoothly. (Note the slim cyan blocks with "[show]" links to their right. Try clicking a few of these links.) Talk:D'Oliveira_affair/GA1 is less exhaustive but has more pesky questions, which somebody had to respond to promptly. As you look at the former GA discussion, are you pretty confident that this article would pass virtually all of these very many criteria? (I'm not.) As you look at the latter one, are you confident that somebody keeping watch over the article (perhaps you) will have access to a library with the needed linguistics and other books and papers? (I'm not.)
Normally, one of the most active editors of an article suggests nomination on the article's talk page, there's agreement (or no persuasive disagreement), and then the process goes ahead.
I'm happy to learn that the article has been helpful. I think it's promising, and that it could be a GA. But I don't think it's ready yet. -- Hoary (talk) 04:09, 1 March 2014 (UTC)
I have an interest in linguistics but only an armchair knowledge of it, so I am certainly not the person to fix any problems. I apologize if I've stepped on any toes. Feeling my way through the whole wikipedia thing. :-) Bali88 (talk) 04:16, 1 March 2014 (UTC)
Oh, and also, I have no idea how to un-nominate it...Bali88 (talk) 04:17, 1 March 2014 (UTC)
No, it's fine, no reason to apologize -- and certainly this article isn't "owned" by anyone. And thank you for having got me to start thinking about a push in the medium future for GA status. I've just "un-nominated" the article for you. -- Hoary (talk) 05:41, 1 March 2014 (UTC)
IMHO, GA reviews can provide helpful feedback, but if the concern is that the reviewer might be a layperson with twisted views on the subject (and we know how sticky that can get), perhaps there is a way to have someone we trust take a look at the article and provide an informal review. — Ƶ§œš¹ [ãːɱ ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɪ̃ə̃nlɪ] 01:07, 3 March 2014 (UTC)

Tupac example[edit]

"5-0" is not the best example of AAVE use. That comes from the TV show Hawaii 5-0, and is not necessarily an AAVE term, just an American slang term. You can find plenty of better examples in Tupac's songs. (talk) 17:22, 5 May 2014 (UTC)

Neutrality between what and what?[edit]

I've just noticed this pair of edits. They're recent, but have been followed by various others. In what is the latest edit, RoflCopter404 reverts one of the changes, going back from:

Some linguists maintain that there is nothing intrinsically "wrong" or "sloppy" about AAVE as a language variety since, like all dialects, AAVE shows consistent internal logic and grammatical complexity, and is used naturally to express thoughts and ideas. (my emphasis)


Linguists maintain that there is nothing intrinsically "wrong" or "sloppy" about AAVE as a language variety since, like all dialects, AAVE shows consistent internal logic and grammatical complexity, and is used naturally to express thoughts and ideas. (my emphasis)

(an assertion that was properly sourced, with references later twisted for "some linguists"), doing so with the very polite edit summary:

No linguist anywhere would disagree with this. "Some" is just inaccurate.

Well, I suppose that there are some deranged linguists. "Sane linguists" would read strangely but be accurate.

There's little directly about the "neutrality" question (as it arises here) in WP:NPOV. Within it, the section "Giving 'equal validity' can create a false balance" assumes that people writing in "reliable sources" normally agree with scientists and (genuine) experts. But newspapers are normally taken here to be "reliable sources"; and as linguists know, plenty of pundits and "language mavens" writing about language there are completely wrongheaded. (Which is hardly surprising in a world where one of the most popular and respected works about English is The Elements of Style.)

It seems to me that this pair of edits, however well intended, attempt to strike more of a balance between (A) the view of [sane] linguists and (B) the ruminations of "language mavens" and what passes for "common sense". And I strongly suspect that the edits also have the resulting sentences traduce the sources that they cite (though I admit to not having the sources to hand right now, so I can't immediately check). As another example (not yet reverted) within these edits, from:

Like other similar programs,[source] the Oakland resolution was widely misunderstood as intended to teach AAVE and "elevate it to the status of a written language."[source] (my emphasis)


Like other similar programs,[source] the Oakland resolution was widely understood as intended to teach AAVE and "elevate it to the status of a written language."[source] (my emphasis)

Comments? -- Hoary (talk) 09:47, 15 September 2014 (UTC)

In a way it's not really about neutrality but about authority and sources. It's a linguistics article so has to reflect the scientific mainstream, i.e. what linguistics has to say. Itsmejudith (talk) 09:53, 15 September 2014 (UTC)
The belief that the Oakland resolution was about teaching or elevating AAVE is simply incorrect. If we fail to indicate that, we are doing our readers a disservice. — Ƶ§œš¹ [ãːɱ ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɪ̃ə̃nlɪ] 00:45, 16 September 2014 (UTC)
The whole paragraph as it read bothered me rather a lot, but not having the sources on hand I only felt confident in making the one change back. Would it be a bad idea to just reverse the whole thing to what it was before the very questionable edit was made? — RoflCopter404 (talk) 08:32, 16 September 2014 (UTC)
While we're talking about interpret vs. misinterpret, I notice that the phrase "its use is interpreted, at best, as a sign of ignorance or laziness" was changed to "its use is misinterpreted, at best, as a sign of ignorance or laziness" (emphasis added). I hesitate to change it back for fear of implying by my edit that I think there is much credence to this interpretation. But the case against "interpret" is less strong here than with the Ebonics resolution. I think it might be a bit too heavy-handed. Thoughts? — Ƶ§œš¹ [ãːɱ ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɪ̃ə̃nlɪ] 21:25, 16 September 2014 (UTC)
More fully, the sentence in its current form is Other attitudes about AAVE are less positive, especially among African Americans, as AAVE both deviates from the standard and its use is commonly misinterpreted as a sign of ignorance or laziness. (The question of ±"mis" aside, this is very awkward, indeed ungrammatical. As a quick fix, remove "both".) It cites two sources. I have one of the pair, Green's book, open in front of me as I type. At first, Green doesn't compare the attitudes of "some African Americans" (which is how she describes them) with those of any other group. She starts off by reminding the reader that AAVE "deviates from the standard", and says that for "some African Americans", "not using the standard correctly suggests that speakers are ignorant, lazy or both". (Lovely potential ambiguity with the attachment of "correctly"; but I think that all L1 English readers will agree that no it does not modify "suggests".) She then doesn't call this a (mis)interpretation. (That it's a misinterpretation should be blazingly obvious to anybody who's paid any attention to the preceding two hundred pages, or indeed just read the first half of the short blurb that's on the back cover.) Instead, she approvingly cites Pullum's paper "African American Vernacular English is not Standard English with mistakes" (1999), quoting him as saying "The majority of English speakers think that AAVE is just English with two added factors: some special slang terms and a lot of grammatical mistakes. They are simply wrong about this." Green goes on to (approvingly) summarize Marcyliena Morgan's summary of AA attitudes in "The African-American speech community: Reality and sociolinguistics", a chapter in a 1994 book Morgan edited, The Social Construction of Identities in Creole Situations. Here we do find support for the WP article's "especially". Green: "She [sc Morgan] finds that a great deal of opposition to the use and acceptance of the speech variety has come from African Americans themselves." (All of this is to be found in the lower half of p.221 of Green's African American English.) ¶ So how about Other attitudes about AAVE, held strongly among some African Americans, misinterpret its deviation from Standard English as showing ignorance, laziness, or both. ¶ I can't speak for how this is justified by the other source that's cited: not only don't I have this source, I don't think that I can gain access to it. (Meanwhile, I do note that it's presented oddly: "Lanehart, Sonja, ed. (2001)". Uh huh. Which paper, and by whom, within this book?) -- Hoary (talk) 10:22, 17 September 2014 (UTC)
Perhaps "...held strongly among even some African Americans..." so that we don't imply that negative views come primarily from AA's. I think your suggested wording also implies that the attitudes are doing the misinterpreting, which goes against my understanding of what attitudes do. We could omit the bit about African Americans (since it's mentioned elsewhere in the article anyway). How about:
Other attitudes about AAVE are less positive; since AAVE deviates from the standard, its use is commonly misinterpreted as a sign of ignorance, laziness, or both."
The Lanehart citation is an article written by the editor. I don't have access to it anymore, but I might have notes on what I read somewhere... — Ƶ§œš¹ [ãːɱ ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɪ̃ə̃nlɪ] 00:22, 18 September 2014 (UTC)
Yes, that would be fine. -- Hoary (talk) 09:33, 18 September 2014 (UTC)