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

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 Oakland resolution was absolutely about teaching and elevating AAVE. The New York Times' Peter Applebome spread the lie, claiming that the resolution was not about teaching and elevating AAVE, in order to disarm its detractors, and confuse the general public. If this were a legitimate encyclopedia article, instead of Ebonics propaganda made to look scholarly, readers would learn that. (talk) 23:29, 13 December 2015 (UTC)
We go with what authoritative, reliable sources tell us. There isn't room for fringe or conspiracy theories here. — Ƶ§œš¹ [lɛts b̥iː pʰəˈlaɪˀt] 00:26, 14 December 2015 (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)

Recent addition to intro[edit]

Middayexpress recently added the following text to the article's introduction. I have removed it because, not only does it contradict the content of the article, but it presents only one side of a long-standing debate among linguists who study AAVE. Here is the text, with my commentary:

African American Vernacular English evolved during the antebellum period through interaction between speakers of 16th and 17th century English of Great Britain and Ireland and various West African languages.

Well, yes and no. It is true that, in the 16th and 17th centuries, such speakers interacted with each other and it is likely that this may have developed some sort of slave creole. But this slave creole was not AAVE as we know it today. There is contention among scholars about whether AAVE as we know it today is the result of this slave creole becoming closer to forms of standard English (or Southern White English) or if it is the result of post-bellum isolation between blacks and whites. It is simply not true that AAVE as we know it today came from those antebellum interactions.

As a result, the variety shares parts of its grammar and phonology with the Southern American English dialect.

They do share these features, but not necessarily because of interactions between the British and Irish. It would probably be because of interactions with whites in the American South.

Where African American Vernacular English differs from Standard American English (SAE) is in certain pronunciation characteristics, tense usage and grammatical structures that were derived from West African languages, particularly those belonging to the Niger-Congo family.

Even if we were to change "Standard American English" to "Southern White English" it would still be patently untrue, even as a generalization. Even the features we can be certain come from a creole origin, there is still debate among creolists about whether the features of creoles come from some sort of innate grammar or if they are the result of substrate influence on speakers learning English. The evidence for the West African influence on AAVE specifically is very thin.

I also took a look at the cited source, the Encyclopedia of Cross-Cultural Psychology, which I should note is not a linguistics textbook. Middayexpress was fairly faithful to the original material, it's just an inaccurate source when it comes to its discussion of origins. The rest of the text on the entry in question is decent, though the wording in some places gives me a feeling like they were getting their information from this article, which would make using it a form of self-citation. — Ƶ§œš¹ [ãːɱ ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɪ̃ə̃nlɪ] 21:56, 22 October 2014 (UTC)

  • I agree with aeusoes1, The encyclopedia of crosscultural psychology is not a good source for linguistic facts. Plenty of linguists have written about AAVE, cite what they write instead.User:Maunus ·ʍaunus·snunɐw· 22:01, 22 October 2014 (UTC)

Encyclopedia of Cross-Cultural School Psychology[edit]

I too agree with Ƶ§œš¹.

I've nothing to add on the substance here, but I do have comments on the cited source. The book is titled Encyclopedia of Cross-Cultural School Psychology. The article cited within it, by Meghan Nichols Taylor, is titled "Ebonics". (Perhaps so titled by the editor rather than Taylor, but anyway, so titled.) Taylor is described in the list of contributors as having a bachelor's degree. (An admittedly quick websearch for her name brings up nothing aside from this non-page.) Her article on "Ebonics" starts:

African American Vernacular English (AAVE), also called Black English Vernacular or Ebonics as it is commonly known, is a type variety (dialect, ethnolect and sociolect) of the American English language.

-- an odd start for an article titled "Ebonics", I'd have thought.

The version of the book that's at Google Books appears to have been published in 2008, though this is unclear. (Worldcat gives two years: 2008 and 2010. I'd guess that it was merely reprinted in 2010, perhaps with corrections.) I've no reason to think that the book predates 2008, and no reason to think that the assembly of its ingredients predates 2007. Here's the Wikipedia article as it was at the very end of 2006; it starts (after markup-stripping):

African American Vernacular English (AAVE), also called African American English, Black English, Black Vernacular, Black English Vernacular (BEV), Black Vernacular English (BVE), or (usually perjoratively [sic]) "Jive", is a type variety (dialect, ethnolect and sociolect) of the American English language. It is known colloquially as Ebonics (a portmanteau of "ebony" and "phonics").

Was one year perhaps not enough for manufacture of this book? Well then, here's the article as it was at the very end of 2005; it starts (again after markup-stripping):

African American Vernacular English (AAVE), also called Black English, Black Vernacular, or Black English Vernacular (BEV), is a type of lect (dialect , ethnolect and sociolect) of the American English language. It is known colloquially as Ebonics, Ebo, or Jive.

So Ƶ§œš¹ is too kind: Taylor isn't just getting her information from an earlier version of the Wikipedia article; she's also (let me put this politely) "patchwriting" from it.

This book has a very serious title, cover design, and price. I used to know Springer as a highly respected publisher of mathematics and other books. While still putting out some good stuff, these days it also perpetrates some hilariously bad "books". I'm not sure where Encyclopedia of Cross-Cultural School Psychology fits along the spectrum, but suspect that buyers get less than they pay for. -- Hoary (talk) 23:58, 22 October 2014 (UTC)

Wow, that is really scary.User:Maunus ·ʍaunus·snunɐw· 21:39, 23 October 2014 (UTC)
This needs to be known, I am sharing this. And this Taylor name seems to be a pseudonym, there are no AAVE scholars or cultural psychologists of that name to be found online. This is really bad for Springer.User:Maunus ·ʍaunus·snunɐw· 21:48, 23 October 2014 (UTC)
Meghan Nichols Taylor also wrote the article on Plessy v. Ferguson for the Springer encyclopedia, and it also contains a chunk of text lifed directly from the wikipedia article. I am writing the editor of the encyclopedia to let them know.User:Maunus ·ʍaunus·snunɐw· 00:47, 24 October 2014 (UTC)
You'd better phrase that carefully. It's imaginable that both that both these ramshackle encyclopedias "borrowed" from a third source. (No, I don't think so either.) -- Hoary (talk) 23:30, 26 October 2014 (UTC)
No I looked at the version history and both of the wikipedia articles have grown incrementally and was basically in the state that she copied already by 2004. The springer editor is looking into it. My guess is that they don't do anything about it, other than not ask Meghan Taylor to write for them again. The articles there seem to be often written by graduate students under the supervision of their advisers who act as editors. User:Maunus ·ʍaunus·snunɐw· 03:25, 27 October 2014 (UTC)


Linguistic resources are indeed ideal. They can and should be used to reference AAVE's main language attributes, including its influences from the Niger-Congo family. Anderson 2012, Hickey 2010, Lynch 2009, Gonzalez 2008, Green 2002, Clark 2013, Winkler 2012 are perhaps useful. Middayexpress (talk) 17:35, 23 October 2014 (UTC)

What's the context of this comment? Anderson's book may be fine in its way (I haven't read it and don't know), but it could hardly be more authoritative about AAVE than books devoted to AAVE. At least one of the other books you mention -- Green's -- is already cited a lot (and rightly so). -- Hoary (talk) 23:27, 26 October 2014 (UTC)
This is in reference to the recently removed content regarding AAVE's origins. — Ƶ§œš¹ [ãːɱ ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɪ̃ə̃nlɪ] 19:12, 27 October 2014 (UTC)
Ah. Thanks, Ƶ§œš¹; I've added an "=" each side of the title accordingly. ¶ Middayexpress, yes, sources should be linguistics sources. But not everything that purports to be about language is a sound linguistics source. I took a quick look at one more of the sources you nominate: "Gonzalez 2008". More precisely, it's a short article, "Ebonics", by one Roberto Tinajero II, within another special-purpose encyclopedia. (It's not obvious that Roberto Tinajero is mentioned anywhere else within the book, let alone outside it.) I'd rate what little I bothered to read of this article with one word: sophomoric. (Do I need to give examples?) ¶ I'm taking an increasingly dim view of recent encyclopedias on narrow areas in what might be termed the humanities. This particular example has a RRP of USD 380. The title is respectable and I suppose a harried librarian would find it handy in helping to burn up an annoying end-of-year budget surplus. Grad students might want to donate articles in order to get mention of these onto their CVs. Harried undergrads who really don't know anything about (here) "Ebonics" read this stuff (not all of which is wrong-headed), regurgitate it, and cite it; harried grad students marking these papers don't actually fail them; the tertiary education and book publishing industries trundle on. -- Hoary (talk) 23:43, 27 October 2014 (UTC)
I've reviewed reference books in science for Choice for the last ten years or so. There are some extremely good multivolume expensive reference books, but these are outnumbered by the ones that are not worth publishing. The humanities is no worse than other subjects. There are marvelously good works like the Grove encyclopedias of art and music, and some wonder linguistics dictionaries like Dictionary of American Regional Index. They're the minority. Lower quality ones are not as much edited as compiled from whatever the individual authors submit, and there can be great variation in quality between the different articles. All academic publishers cater to this market; all have some worthwhile books and some less worthwhile books: this is the nature of all publishing.
Publishers publish them because most librarians have traditionally bought them all without thinking--they're relatively easy purchases, and nobody will notice if they are little used. Academic librarians rarely actually have surpluses in the usual sense: there is always more to buy than money available, though at fiscal year ending dates there can be a need to get any remaining money spent quickly. The first priority is to buy the books the faculty asks for, and then most libraries automatically buy new editions of what they have purchased previously, but then comes the need for selection. It is very hard to judge if a book not individually asked for is ever likely to be used: the standard figure is that 50% never will be used even once.
In actuality, the market for these works is in a counterproductive state of crisis: fewer and fewer copies of an expensive academic work can be expected to be sold; the net result is that the price per copy goes up , causing fewer copies to be sold, and so on exponentially. They are very expensive to produce if they get proper detailed review and editing--we all of us here should be familiar with the work required for an excellent single article; let alone a thousand--remember than in 11 years 20,000 regular editors here have managed to come up with only 4600 featured articles, most of which are not really of the highest professional level. But they are not particularly expensive to produce, if one doesn't care to much about quality, and the field is not one requiring high resolution illustrations. In print, good illustrations are what's really expensive.
The only way to judge without expert evaluation the quality and reliability of an individual article in most reference books is the academic reputation of the author; and even this doesn't work well, because even authors of high reputation will sometimes turn out repetitive work of only mediocre quality.
there is however one thing that can be said about all printed reference works: they are out of date. They normally take 3 to 5 years to prepare,and then perhaps 10 years between editions, and they are usually based on publications that themselves take a few years to write. Our reliance upon secondary sources therefore intrinsically means that we are always relying on out of date sources; Even for apparently static subjects,the interpretations will be years behind the current state of the field, and will necessarily ignore recent discoveries (we still have 100s of articles based on nothing better than the 1913 Brittanica--I consider it a major disgrace that we ever decided to accept this). MEDRES tries to limit this problem by limiting RS to recent review articles, and they are available in this subject area, but there is almost no other field with equally rapid updating.
Online sources can do better, but most reference works with online equivalents are not really revised as often as necessary. Again, we here should all be familiar with this problem in our own encyclopedia--who ever thought ten years ago that everything being done would have to regularly be done all over again? DGG ( talk ) 06:06, 28 October 2014 (UTC)
Yes, the two "Grove" encyclopedias (or "dictionaries") are indeed superb, as is the Dictionary of American Regional English. Offhand I know nothing about the genesis of the "Grove" newcomer on art, but the other two took decades to create. For music, there's Slonimsky's Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians [I'm unfamiliar with Slonimsky's successor's work], which is both careful and opinionated (and funny). There was the old Oxford Companion to Music, which was very good at what it tried to do, and the unloved New Companion to Music, which I thought had much better ingredients but didn't quite hang together. But all of these, and dozens or possibly a hundred or so more, are famous. Beyond these, there are thousands more. Think of a narrow subject area; these days there's probably an encyclopedia about it. An Encyclopedia of Twentieth-Century Photography? Check! They're three expensive volumes from Routledge that are soporific at best. Of course there are honorable exceptions; for example, I'm happy with my copy of The Oxford Companion to J. M. W. Turner. ( two-star customer review: "Maybe I am silly but if you are going to call a book a companion on a painter you should have plenty of paintings from each of the periods in his/her life to share with the reader." Yes dear, you are silly.) ¶ In contrast to much of what are billed as encyclopedias, "handbooks" seem good, at least so far as I am qualified to judge them. And where I'm not qualified to judge them, I can at least see that the (longish, meaty) entries are usually written by a large number of scholars, each of whom seems significant if not prominent in their field. -- Hoary (talk) 00:37, 29 October 2014 (UTC)

In Education[edit]

In this section- 'The statement that "African Language Systems are genetically based" also contributed to the negative reaction because "genetically" was popularly misunderstood to imply that African Americans had a biological predisposition to a particular language.'

Having lived through the media-storm the Oakland School Board's announcement made it is quite clear that the board members clearly thought 'genetically' was a biological reference, even if the author they were rubber stamping didn't mean it this way. If anyone has time it might make a good addition to the article to dig up some of their initial statements made to the media- before they started backpedaling and saying they knew what linguistic genetics were all the time and only meant it in that context. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 2602:304:cfe1:2959:ec29:f7ac:4514:f0ad (talkcontribs)

It would be interesting to see that. — Ƶ§œš¹ [lɛts b̥iː pʰəˈlaɪˀt] 02:05, 19 December 2014 (UTC)


Recently, an anonymous user and @Handpolk: have insisted that we remove the link to Ebonics in the lede, as well as the information indicating to readers that this is a non-technical term. The nonsensical explanation "we shouldn't be sacrificing accuracy for racial sensitivity" was put in anedit summary, but this has nothing to do with "racial sensitivity" and, as I've already stated, it is actually less accurate. If either user believes they can provide a more thorough, meaningful, and convincing explanation, I await such a response.

The same pair of users has also insisted on altering the table in the tense and aspect section. I suspect that both users have, in their haste, neglected to notice a citation (in the form of the number 41) at the top of the table that points readers to Joan Fickett's 1972 article "Tense and aspect in Black English." Unfortunately for those wishing to alter this table, the citation does not back up these edits. The anonymous user, in particular, has repeatedly made such changes in the past with no explanation and has been reverted each time. It is possible that Fickett's article is out of date or otherwise inaccurate. But the anon user has not said as much. They have even left the citation intact, which is problematic; maintaining the citation and changing the table is actually a form of misattribution and scholarly misconduct, yet Handpolk insists that this is a form of "good faith" editing. Handpolk also insists that, although it has been done incompetently, with no explanation, and incongruently with proper academic protocol and Wikipedia procedures on citations, must be given a due explanation. I hope this matter can be put to rest now.

It is also my hope that Handpolk is not guilty of restoring a reverted edit, not because they believe in the merits of the edits themselves, but simply because they were unsatisfied with another contributor's edit summary. Now that would be bad faith editing. — Ƶ§œš¹ [lɛts b̥iː pʰəˈlaɪˀt] 22:23, 26 January 2015 (UTC)

I have no opinion on the non-ebonics edits. You mentioned they went against a cited source. I'm sure you're right about that. As to the ebonics issue, I do not think the link should be removed - I think the placement in the lede is wrong and the unsourced qualifiers should be removed. You said about my version: "it is actually less accurate" yet provided no supporting evidence. I believe that is incorrect. As it reads "Non-linguists sometimes call it Ebonics (a term that also has other meanings and connotations)" with no citations and deliberately placed at the bottom of the lede away from the other alternate names for AAVE, seems to be downplaying that many people use AAVE and ebonics interchangeably and in fact AAVE is just a PC term that was invented because some people found ebonics to be offensive. Minimizing ebonics by adding qualifiers to it and placing it at the bottom of the lead instead of at the top where it belongs, is not encyclopedic. When I found this article I was looking for information on ebonics and it took me a good 20 seconds to even figure out I had found the right article. If the article itself isn't going to be called ebonics, then ebonics should be the very first term that is listed after AAVE. Handpolk (talk) 23:29, 26 January 2015 (UTC)
The phrase "ebonics" is by its nature racist and offensive. It might be better to establish this with a source if you like, but the fact that it is a term to describe a dialect of English spoken by black people that is clearly racial in origin, that no other varieties of English have such a name, and that black people themselves do not use this word makes it clear that it is not exactly a term devoid of ill will. RoflCopter404 (talk) 02:55, 27 January 2015 (UTC)
If it's racist and offensive, what's it doing in the lede at all? And why isn't that noted? If something is racist and offensive the encyclopedic thing to do is to bury it at the bottom of the lede and add some qualifiers to downplay it's relevance? As to whether black people use the term, that's not relevant. This article doesn't exist for black people. It exists for all people. And many people use the term ebonics for AAVE. The multiple alternate names given are there precisely for that reason. Ebonics belongs among them. If you'd like to add 'although black people don't use this term' with a citation, I would support that. Handpolk (talk) 03:45, 27 January 2015 (UTC)
(edit conflict)In the edit that you supported, the link was removed. If you really don't feel so strongly about it (or the table), I'm confused about why you restored it twice. Were you just being sloppy, lazy, or both? aeusoes1 02:56, 27 January 2015 — continues after insertion below
The first time you didn't explain the reason you reverted. The second time I initially misunderstood what you meant. I thought you were saying my ebonics edit was going against a cited source. Once I realized what you meant, I had already reverted. Handpolk (talk) 03:58, 27 January 2015 (UTC)
You have said that the placement at the bottom of the lede, and I quote, "seems to be downplaying fact AAVE is just a PC term that was invented because some people found ebonics to be offensive." I won't ask you to provide a citation for this, because it cannot be anything but false. In fact, it defies basic notions of causality. Usage of the term Ebonics as a synonym for AAVE began in 1996. The term African American Vernacular English, although a mouthful, was likely coined in the 1980s as an extension of the earlier Black Vernacular English, which dates back to before the term Ebonics was even coined at all. If anything, both Ebonics and AAVE/BVE were designed to avoid the term negro dialect, which we certainly do find offensive today (you will note that we have avoided putting that term in bold in the lede, even though there are are people who still use this term; I do not recommend that you include this term, despite your apparent disdain for "political correctness"). In other words, your "fact" is a made-up notion that you would do well to discard.
It seems that you have provided a request for citation for the claim that linguists do not use the term Ebonics as a referent to AAVE; Ebonics (word) (the link you removed) does provide attribution to this claim and basically covers, with rigorous citation, the rather banal claim that Ebonics means other things than just AAVE. I wouldn't have a problem with duplicating that in-line citation here. In the future, if you do have an issue with a statement that does not provide a citation, we have the {{citation needed}} template that can be placed in-line. This will prompt editors to try to find corroborating resources and readers to understand that they should take the content they read with a grain of salt.
It should be very clear by this point that the edit you supported does, indeed, remove important information, making it less accurate. I'm not really sure if there's a way to further streamline the process of letting readers such as yourself know earlier that this is the article they are looking for. From what I can tell, all of the relevant information to help with this deduction is in the first two sentences. In the 20 seconds it took you to figure out that you were in the right place, did you actually read those first two sentences? — Ƶ§œš¹ [lɛts b̥iː pʰəˈlaɪˀt] 02:56, 27 January 2015 (UTC)
You seem to know the history of the terms better than I do. So without doing any research I'm going to assume you're probably right about that. With that said, I still think it's a PC term that people use when most laymen would not know the term AAVE and they would know ebonics but like @@RoflCopter404: said, some people find it offensive and racist (I disagree, though, that is is racist and offensive 'by nature'). None of this has anything to do with how the lede should be worded. If ebonics is going to be in the lede, it shouldn't be hidden at the bottom and garnished with qualifiers. It should be #2, right after AAVE. Handpolk 04:09, 27 January 2015 — continues after insertion below
"It should be very clear by this point that the edit you supported does, indeed, remove important information, making it less accurate." No, that's not clear at all. Those qualifiers are not important information that make the article more accurate. Their sole purpose is to downplay the relevance of the term ebonics. Even in the lede of the ebonics article it says that "Ebonics has primarily been used to refer to African American Vernacular English (AAVE)". How is that not an alternate name for AAVE that should be included with no qualifiers? Just because some people find it 'racist and offensive'? If you want to add that it's racist and offensive to some people to the lead, go for it. If you want to say that black people never use it, go for it. But saying 'non-linguists sometimes use it and it also has other meanings' is just purposely watering it down - with a very clear agenda. Wikipedia is not the place for you to express your personal views on race. It's an encyclopedia that needs to be accurate. Handpolk (talk) 04:09, 27 January 2015 (UTC)
You are, or claim to be, extraordinarily certain of other editors' motivations. But you haven't presented any clear evidence for this. The term "Ebonics" is discussed in the article so titled; what that article says does not need to be summarized here. This is indeed an encyclopedia and accuracy is what aeusoes1 has been energetically and informedly striving for in this and related articles for a considerable time. This doesn't mean that he's infallible, of course. If you'd like to present a rational argument (rather than dreaming up motivation and attacking that) for something being wrong or imbalanced, please go ahead. -- Hoary (talk) 04:22, 27 January 2015 (UTC)
Nobody owns articles on Wikipedia. Please do not try and intimidate me or influence others with irrelevant details about who has contributed what to where and for how long. You've done a fine job of finding bits of what I've said to attack but you've yet to address my point, which I've stated multiple times. AAVE and Ebonics are used interchangeably by many people. The Ebonics article even states this. There is no reason why Ebonics should be at the bottom of the lede nor why it should have multiple qualifiers along with it. It should be #2 in the lede, right after AAVE, as it is by far the second most relevant alternate name for AAVE (I would actually argue that it is AAVE that is an alternate name for Ebonics). Handpolk (talk) 04:37, 27 January 2015 (UTC)
You are not persuasive. If I didn't make it clear enough last time, I'll try again: aeusoes1 is fallible; I am fallible. He (we) may be wrong and you may be right. If so, we'll admit it. So go ahead, demonstrate it. ¶ You now claim that "[Ebonics] is by far the second most relevant alternate name for AAVE"; what do you mean by "relevant"? If it's just that the term is widely used to mean AAVE; yes, you're right, it is. The article doesn't deny this. As a name for AAVE, it's also by far the most problematic, because it alone comes with a lot of theoretical baggage (after all, it was explicitly coined with this baggage), and this theory is rejected by most linguists and not of much interest to most non-linguists. Rather similarly, what I normally think of "heat" is explained under thermal energy; the article heat instead being about the word as understood by physicists. ¶ Meanwhile, a comment on this edit of yours, User:Handpolk. Your summary asserts: there are no sources re: ebonics. I can interpret this in two ways. First, "there are no [reliable] sources for the term 'Ebonics' ". If this is what you mean, you're very wrong. There is academic literature on the matter: some is cited in the article Ebonics (word) (when not vandalized). Secondly, "there are no [reliable] sources for what Wikipedia terms African American Vernacular English". If this is what you mean, you're quite amazingly wrong. There is a large academic literature on the matter: some is cited in this article (when not vandalized). (There are entire books from university presses devoted to it.) Please do read up on this stuff. (For a one-volume introduction, Lisa J. Green's African American English: A Linguistic Introduction, ISBN 0-521-89138-8, is good.) -- Hoary (talk) 05:04, 27 January 2015 (UTC) [correction from "Ebonics" to "Ebonics (word)" 05:59, 27 January 2015 (UTC)]
"what do you mean by "relevant"? If it's just that the term is widely used to mean AAVE; yes, you're right, it is. The article doesn't deny this." Yes, that's what I mean. And yes the article does deny it. By burying it at the bottom of the lede with multiple qualifiers. It should be front and center and ideally it should be noted how common it is. there are no sources re: ebonics I meant there are no sources cited in this article for those qualifiers. There is a link to Ebonics however those qualifiers are in no way an accurate summary of that article. The current wording is misleading. It downplays and almost attempts to dismiss that term. Handpolk (talk) 05:46, 27 January 2015 (UTC)
  • Whether or not a term is "PC" is irrelevant. If a term is no longer in use, or has come to be generally regarded as pejorative then we don't present it as if it is a neutral term. That would be doing a disservice to our readers. Where the world is "PC" then so is wikipedia, and when it isn't then we are not.User:Maunus ·ʍaunus·snunɐw· 04:48, 27 January 2015 (UTC)
    • That's an argument for removing it from the lede. If something is pejorative yet you decide it's important enough to be in the lede anyway, the encyclopedic thing to do is not place it at the bottom with multiple qualifiers (none of which say anything about it being pejorative). Handpolk (talk) 04:51, 27 January 2015 (UTC)
I second Hoary's comments regarding the motivations of other editors. Your insinuations are in poor form and do not reflect the article as it currently stands. The article currently does not say that Ebonics is racist or offensive. While one user here, Roflcopter404, believes that it is (and they are entitled to that opinion), the opinion of one editor should not be construed as the basis or rationale behind the way the term Ebonics is presented in the article. In other words, the article lede does not contain anyone's "personal views on race." In fact, only your proposed wording below introduces this idea.
In the meantime, I would like to explore the issue of clarity that you brought up. You said it took you almost 20 seconds to figure out that this was the article you were looking for. As I said, the subject seems very obvious to me by the end of the second sentence, but I have been editing this article for a long time and don’t have your fresh eyes. I understand that you believe that deleting content and moving the term to the first sentence (rather than the second sentence) would solve this problem. But, as you can see, this removal brings about some problems. Can you tell me what, exactly, confused you in those first two sentences that it took you so long to come to the conclusion that you had found what you were looking for?
Also, regarding the usefulness of the information you feel should be deleted, tell me if I understand you correctly: in an article for general readers about a linguistics topic, you believe it is not important to mention, even in passing (in an article with over 8,000 words)—not once—that a commonly-used term is not used by experts. You believe that this information provides no value whatsoever to a general readership. Do I understand you correctly that you also, despite my directing you to a citation, believe this information to be inaccurate? That’s the only thing I can glean from your statement that it is "not important information that make[s] the article more accurate." Would you feel that it was important information if you believed it to be accurate? — Ƶ§œš¹ [lɛts b̥iː pʰəˈlaɪˀt] 05:06, 27 January 2015 (UTC)
FWIW, Hoary and I did discuss the issue of clarity back about two years ago. — Ƶ§œš¹ [lɛts b̥iː pʰəˈlaɪˀt] 05:38, 27 January 2015 (UTC)
Re:insinuations, one editor said they were racist and offensive another editor said it's a pejorative term. the way it's worded now appears to me to be a blatant attempt to downplay and dismiss Ebonics, yet with an inability to remove it completely because of how absurd that would be given AAVE itself is just a polite term for Ebonics, in common usage. However, given all of that, I will acknowledge I shouldn't have told people what their motivations were when they haven't explicitly stated them. So I apologize for that. "In fact, only your proposed wording below introduces this idea." As stated below, I was making a concession to the people who felt that way (which I presumed at the time was everybody). "You said it took you almost 20 seconds to figure out that this was the article you were looking for." For frame of reference, here is what I'm looking at: I scan the first five lines of bolded long words and I don't see Ebonics anywhere. That's where it should be, given that I came here already confused that the article wasn't called Ebonics. I knew as soon as I saw African American Vernacular English (a term I can't even recall having heard before, though I'm sure I have) that this was the PC term for Ebonics. That or I was on the wrong article. So I scan those first five lines to make sure and nope, no Ebonics in there. I quickly scan the rest of the lede and don't see it (I missed at at the bottom...) and then start scanning the article itself. Which starts out with history and nothing that would indicate this is the article I'm looking for. I know you're going to say I should have carefully read every word of the lede until I saw Ebonics, but that's not what my 'fresh eyes' did. And I would imagine a lot of others do the same, given that I'm probably in the 95th percentile of Wikipedia familiarity.
"you believe it is not important to mention, even in passing (in an article with over 8,000 words)—not once—that a commonly-used term is not used by experts" Of course not. We're not talking about the article here, we are talking about the lede. Clearly something like that would be relevant in the article. But when you put 'ebonics' in the lede and you choose to describe it by saying 'non-linguists sometimes call it Ebonics' you are being downright disingenuous. You've already acknowledge it's commonly used. 'non-linguists sometimes call it' is not an accurate way to describe a term that is commonly used. It may be an accurate statement, but it's not an accurate description of the term Ebonics. And when '(a term that also has other meanings and connotations)" is added, that's even more disingenuous. The Ebonics article says the term was 'little used' until 1996, when it took on it's current meaning. So while again what's in quotes is technically correct, it's not an accurate way to describe the term. So we have this term here buried at the bottom of the lede where people might not even see it, and to describe it we choose two misleading descriptors... Handpolk (talk) 06:13, 27 January 2015 (UTC)
given AAVE itself is just a polite term for Ebonics, in common usage. It's not a given. AAVE is an established term. Academics are famous less for politeness than for other taxonomic concerns. Are you saying that those people who say "AAVE" actually want to say "Ebonics" but politically-correctly police themselves? I'm willing to believe that some do that; I haven't heard that many do. Got any evidence? Meanwhile, how about "non-linguists often call it 'Ebonics'"? -- Hoary (talk) 06:34, 27 January 2015 (UTC)
I'm not going to respond to you nit-picking a very minor and inconsequential part of what I said unless you actually address the points that I made. Handpolk (talk) 06:53, 27 January 2015 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────This might sound a little weird, but your imgur link has me thinking that maybe part of the problem is that it's hard to tell that the word is bolded (which is what you were scanning for). WP:BOLDTITLE explains that "Links should not be placed in the boldface reiteration of the title in the opening sentence of a lead." One of the effects of this is that it's easier to see bolded text (and thereby give readers a better sense of where they are). So I think the spirit of this rule would possibly be better implemented if we kept the wording intact but changed which words are the link. Something like "Non-linguists sometimes call it Ebonics (a term that also has other meanings and connotations)." — Ƶ§œš¹ [lɛts b̥iː pʰəˈlaɪˀt] 07:02, 27 January 2015 (UTC)

I guess that would probably be a slight improvement. Burying it at the bottom still downplays it, though. Why is Ebonics down there and not Black English or Black Vernacular English? What is so special about Ebonics? They are all names for the same thing. Handpolk (talk) 07:12, 27 January 2015 (UTC)
Not to get too nit-picky here (especially because I can see now why you would see it that way in your display), but the lede section has three paragraphs. Mention of the term Ebonics is in the first of these three. That's the second sentence. It is separated from the other terms by a few lines, but I'd hardly call that burying (especially with the bolding). — Ƶ§œš¹ [lɛts b̥iː pʰəˈlaɪˀt] 07:15, 27 January 2015 (UTC)
This is why Wikipedia can't retain editors, man. This is fucking ridiculous. Have to spend half a day and write a novel for the placement of a word because some dudes are butthurt because they don't like the term Ebonics. That's what the non-academic non-black non-PC world calls it. Deal with it. Do whatever you guys want, I'm out......... Handpolk (talk) 07:30, 27 January 2015 (UTC)
Get over yourself. If you stopped for one minute thinking of yourself as some lone crusader against cabals of PC nuts, you might notice that most of the problem here stems from your poor performance in reading comprehension. Wikipedia works with consensus, which takes discussion. And discussion requires understanding what the other person is saying. You've done a pretty poor job of that here and you've now topped it off by insulting those who have taken time out of their busy schedules to try to address your concerns. — Ƶ§œš¹ [lɛts b̥iː pʰəˈlaɪˀt] 08:02, 27 January 2015 (UTC)

Proposed Re-Wording[edit]

African American Vernacular English (AAVE) — also called Ebonics (some people consider this term offensive, however it is the most common name for AAVE), African American English; less precisely Black English, Black Vernacular, Black English Vernacular (BEV), or Black Vernacular English (BVE) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Handpolk (talkcontribs) 04:57, 27 January 2015 (UTC)

No. This pointlessly raises various questions (do I need to list these for you?), and even as it is clutters up the opening sentence. Incidentally, while I wouldn't be surprised to learn that "Ebonics" has undergone pejoration, this comes as news to me. -- Hoary (talk) 05:04, 27 January 2015 (UTC)
OK, how about this: African American Vernacular English (AAVE) — commonly referred to as Ebonics; also called African American English; less precisely Black English, Black Vernacular, Black English Vernacular (BEV), or Black Vernacular English (BVE) Handpolk (talk) 05:35, 27 January 2015 (UTC)
I could possibly get behind wording like this if we had a footnote briefly explaining usage of Ebonics? What do other editors think? — Ƶ§œš¹ [lɛts b̥iː pʰəˈlaɪˀt] 05:42, 27 January 2015 (UTC)
No. Yes, AAVE is indeed commonly referred to as "Ebonics". This change would require a link not to "Ebonics" (a disambiguation page) but to "Ebonics (word)". It would also require a footnote: one click to go to the footnote, another to return. The result would be more tiresome to digest and easier to misunderstand than the current arrangement. -- Hoary (talk) 06:18, 27 January 2015 (UTC)
Comment - I'm a little confused by this proposal. Is this actually good faith proposal? It is so strikingly different from the proposing editor's stance on the issue. Handpolk, didn't you just say that Wikipedia should not advance people's personal views on race? Now you are introducing novel (as Hoary has said) and certainly uncited claims that seem unencyclopedically subjective and weasel-worded. What's going on here? — Ƶ§œš¹ [lɛts b̥iː pʰəˈlaɪˀt] 05:12, 27 January 2015 (UTC)
One editor here said the term is 'racist and offensive' and another said it was 'pejorative'. I was addressing their concerns. My strong preference would be for nothing in parentheses and just the link. Handpolk (talk) 05:32, 27 January 2015 (UTC)

Relative popularities[edit]

I'm not at all sure that the relative popularities of the various terms that have been used for what we call AAVE are of much importance. Also, I'm no Ngram viewer wiz. But I thought I'd take a look all the same.

A proper link would be impossibly long, and WP's spam prevention measures make redirecting URLs impossible. Well, after the usual "http://"", add, hit enter, and take a look at what you'll get.

One thing I notice is that use of AAVE has taken off since around 1990.

There are various caveats. Here are a few:

  • "AAVE" certainly has other uses, as it appears as early as 1950.
  • "Black English" could apply to all sorts of things ("black English treacle"?)
  • Where "African American Vernacular English" has been used, it has almost certainly been used together with "AAVE"

Looking at these, you can probably think of more quibbles of your own. Still, it's a very early approximation. Anyone wanting to do something better might start by going through the Ngram viewer doc page.

[Thinks . . . aw, why not?]

OK, try this: "http://"" plus Yes, the "AAVE" + "African American Vernacular English" combination is actually ahead of "Ebonics". -- Hoary (talk) 10:08, 27 January 2015 (UTC)

So your point is that AAVE+African American Vernacular English are together used very slightly more often than Ebonics and that is an argument for what, exactly? Burying Ebonics at the bottom of the lede, turning Ebonics into a disambiguation page with definitions and ordering designed to send people to African American Vernacular English and turning Ebonics (word) into a hatchet job that discredits the term and seeks to send people to African American Vernacular English? What about Black English, Black Vernacular, Black English Vernacular (BEV), or Black Vernacular English (BVE)? Are they used more than Ebonics, too? Is that why they are given preference over Ebonics in the lede and don't have multiple misleading qualifiers attached to them? Handpolk (talk) 04:51, 28 January 2015 (UTC)
There is no point. I'm bringing forth data that I find mildly interesting, in the hope that some level-headed fellow-editor who's interested in improving the article (of course in accordance with linguistics insights as delivered in books from university presses and the like) will somehow find it stimulating. The term "Ebonics" is not at the bottom of the lead (or "lede"), and it's not buried. If you see a "hatchet job" at Ebonics (word), you are perhaps hallucinating. The "multiple misleading qualifiers" are figments of your imagination. -- Hoary (talk) 14:05, 28 January 2015 (UTC)
Saying 'nuh uh' to each of my points, with no proof or even supporting statements, doesn't make you right. Everything I said was 100% accurate, with the pedantic exception of Ebonics actually being buried at the bottom of the first paragraph of the lede, rather than at the bottom of the lede. Handpolk (talk) 14:54, 28 January 2015 (UTC)
"Buried at the bottom of a paragraph", some sort of metaphor, with the preceding part of the paragraph compared to six feet of soil? Again, you seem very imaginative. Alternatively perhaps you're just tossing around words like "buried" with no particular meaning. ¶ All in all it seems that you have arrived with various ideas about "Ebonics" and are upset because neither this article nor that one reflects these ideas. Well, set forth the argument for your ideas, with evidence and citing authorities, and what you say will be taken seriously. -- Hoary (talk) 15:06, 28 January 2015 (UTC)
What 'other meanings and connotations' does Ebonics have? Both on the disambiguation page and in the Ebonics article, it's described as a synonym of AAVE. Indeed if you do a Google search for Ebonics you will find many scholarly sources which use the terms interchangeably. Example1, Example2, Example3. I agree they are synonyms. So to say that Ebonics has 'other meanings and connotations' is not accurate. Handpolk (talk) 15:44, 28 January 2015 (UTC)
As a term referring to something different from AAVE, it is "The various idioms, patois, argots, idiolects, and social dialects of black people." This includes Haitian, Gullah, Jamaican, and other Caribbean creoles. It may also include some West African languages. This meaning would also include AAVE in the same way that Romance includes French and mammals includes dogs. Thus, they are semantically related, but referentially distinct. When Ebonics is used to refer to the same thing as AAVE, it carries connotations of AAVE being separate from English. I hope I won't have to explain that having an identical referent with different connotations is nothing strange to English; we have, for example, regime and administration. — Ƶ§œš¹ [lɛts b̥iː pʰəˈlaɪˀt] 17:45, 28 January 2015 (UTC)
Some of that was admittedly over my head but I believe what you're saying is AAVE is a part of Ebonics but Ebonics is more than just AAVE. If that's the case, then Ebonics is sorely lacking because it does not make that distinction nor describe the rest of Ebonics, apart from AAVE and the description of Ebonics on Ebonics is incorrect as it just describes it as a synonym of AAVE and notes that it has its origins as something else. Handpolk (talk) 18:22, 28 January 2015 (UTC)
When AAVE and Ebonics refer to different things (as was the case particularly before 1996), AAVE is a subset of Ebonics. When AAVE and Ebonics refer to the same thing (post-1996), there are different connotations, with AAVE being the more neutral term. However, the article on the term Ebonics does indeed clarify that. If you notice, there are quotation marks in my previous comment. I was copying from that article. — Ƶ§œš¹ [lɛts b̥iː pʰəˈlaɪˀt] 19:31, 28 January 2015 (UTC)
It's currently 2015, so they refer to the same thing. So the 'different meanings' part should be removed. Different connotations I will agree with so that should remain. Handpolk (talk) 20:13, 28 January 2015 (UTC)
How about 'a term that can have other connotations' Handpolk (talk) 20:52, 28 January 2015 (UTC)
I'm of two minds on that. On the one hand, it might be a bit presumptuous to assume that it is no longer used with its earlier meaning without some sort of corroboration. Then again, removing "other meanings" frome the lede doesn't necessarily mean that it's not used that way. What do other people think? — Ƶ§œš¹ [lɛts b̥iː pʰəˈlaɪˀt] 05:07, 29 January 2015 (UTC)
they refer to the same thing. Very often they do, but sometimes they don't. Here is a 2014 lecture by Ernie Smith (who, as he demonstrates, co-coined the term) in which he uses it as first intended. -- Hoary (talk) 09:46, 29 January 2015 (UTC)
I'm satisfied with the changes to the three articles. If you guys want to make that change, go ahead. I still think Ebonics could use a lot of work in the future but it would involve adding new content and sources, not merely rewording things. Handpolk (talk) 17:43, 29 January 2015 (UTC)

"Linguists maintain that there is nothing"[edit]

Aeusoes1 told me to take it here, so here I am. I've twice added the word "Most" before "linguists", and Aeusoes has twice reverted this change. My logic is that simply leaving it at "linguists" implies that there are effectively no linguists who do not consider AAVE a legitimate working English dialect (which, aside from being statistically near-impossible because of how many linguists there are, seems to be contradicted later in the paragraph by the existence of contradictory opinions), or that if one does not believe this, one cannot be a real linguist. Nevertheless, this is not the first time I've added equivocation about a highly politically contentious political issue and found the consensus to be sharply against me - at the very least, I would like some kind of explanation of why this wording is or isn't appropriate. Tezero (talk) 02:17, 24 June 2015 (UTC)

The next sentence does seem to indicate not all linguists agree, making 'most' accurate and an implied 'all' inaccurate. Unless the sources give a breakdown of %'s, it might even be appropriate to say 'some' and then 'others' instead of 'most.' Handpolk (talk) 03:15, 24 June 2015 (UTC)
The contradictory opinions you refer to are not those held by linguists. Green (2002), although a linguist herself, is making reference to the opinions of non-linguists (she herself does not hold a negative view of AAVE). Likewise, Lanehart (2001) is referring specifically to the parents of AAVE-speaking students, not her own opinion. It should be clear that these are non-linguist positions because the "other" in the phrase "Other attitudes" is referring to that of non-linguists.
Past that, I find it highly unlikely that any linguist would make it their professional opinion that AAVE is sloppy or wrong. Descriptivism, which is a foundational part of linguistic practice, is inconsistent with such judgments.
If anyone can find actual linguists making such harsh (and, dare I say, unprofessional) pronouncements, then we can consider changing "linguists" to "most linguists." Until then, I think it would be inappropriate and misleading to needlessly equivocate with "most." — Ƶ§œš¹ [lɛts b̥iː pʰəˈlaɪˀt] 03:27, 24 June 2015 (UTC)
Whether it is 100% or not 100% should be something in the RS's and those are what we should rely upon, not our own original research or opinion. Can you show an RS that says 100%? Or can Tezero show any that say otherwise? Handpolk (talk) 04:25, 24 June 2015 (UTC)
I haven't so far, but it's worth emphasizing that descriptivism doesn't mean you actively consider all dialects and languages to be equally usable or legitimate, only that you refrain from making such judgments in your professional work. The majority of professional, peer-reviewed linguistic literature I've read on it (admittedly not much) simply doesn't take a position one way or the other. Is this because it's obvious and presumed? Perhaps; I just don't like the idea that silence should be presumed from the get-go as support without some kind of cited meta-commentary on the linguistics community to affirm that this is, in fact, a universally or near-universally held position. It's also worth noting that this sense of descriptivism, if it's currently universal in linguistics, has not always been - I remember seeing grammars on Australian Aboriginal languages from the 1940s a few months ago that, while seemingly reasonable as academic resources otherwise, pulled no punches at describing these languages as "primitive" or "crude" - it wouldn't surprise me if similar material has been written on AAVE. Tezero (talk) 00:31, 25 June 2015 (UTC)
I think if we are going to have a statement of what linguists do, it would be with an implicit understanding of what linguists do as linguists. We would no more want to glean the religious sentiments of physicists than the privately-held attitudes of linguists about varieties or linguistic features.
If we want overt descriptivist claims about judgments on languages, our best bet would probably be introductory linguistics texts. Otherwise, we'll probably find a lot of silence; it's my understanding that it is one of those obvious things that linguists wouldn't normally explicitly point out. With AAVE, we have a bit of an exception because the social context is so judgmental and the target audience may include non-linguists. But even then, we'd find it more in sociolinguistic works than in purely descriptive works. — Ƶ§œš¹ [lɛts b̥iː pʰəˈlaɪˀt] 02:51, 25 June 2015 (UTC)
If he is unable to produce a single linguist who feels otherwise, I support the previous version. Though I'd feel a lot better about it if you had a source that confirmed "all linguists" Handpolk ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ 03:06, 25 June 2015 (UTC)
A quick look at some introductory linguistics texts brings out some gems like:
  • Isac Reiss, 2013. I-Language: An Introduction to Linguistics as Cognitive Science:

Standard English is not more precise or logical than other dialect forms. We take the position that no language or dialect is more precise or logical than any other… The notion of correctness has no place in scientific grammar—a particular grammar G generates a form f as an output or it does not. It makes no sense to say that the fs generated by Borislava's GBorislava are better than the fs generated by Khalid's GKhalid. (p. 285)

  • Huddleston, 1984. Introduction to the Grammar of English:

People are often led by the prescriptive tradition to subscribe to such beliefs as the following: 'I say things like Who did you hear that from?, but I realise that I ought really to say From whom did you hear that?', but such beliefs are totally without foundation – there is not the slightest reason to think that that is what we ought to say. (p. 49)

Any editors wishing to research the matter might try "prescriptive vs. descriptive" in their search terms. That seems to bring a lot of hits on Google book search anyway. — Ƶ§œš¹ [lɛts b̥iː pʰəˈlaɪˀt] 06:08, 25 June 2015 (UTC)
Those are the opinions of two linguists, the first notes that clearly with 'we take the position that...' -- these opinions support both 'Most linguists' and 'Linguists' and disprove neither. Handpolk ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ 06:22, 25 June 2015 (UTC)
The particular statement that this WP article makes is:
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.
When respected figures within the mainstream of a branch of learning demonstrate something, they rarely feel the need to add that the majority of scholars agree with them, let alone that all do. (And yes, very likely not all do: however blazingly obvious to sane and highly educated people the truth of this or that assertion may be, there's a moderate risk that some previously respected scholar somewhere wants to play maverick for ideological/wingnut largesse or the cheap celebrity that might accrue, is slipping into senility, or otherwise has a brainfart or two.) But consider the Linguistic Society of America's resolution about AAVE (or Ebonics as the press then called it). An excerpt:
[AAVE] is systematic and rule-governed like all natural speech varieties. In fact, all human linguistic systems -- spoken, signed, and written -- are fundamentally regular. The systematic and expressive nature of the grammar and pronunciation patterns of the African American vernacular has been established by numerous scientific studies over the past thirty years. Characterizations of Ebonics as "slang," "mutant," "lazy," "defective," "ungrammatical," or "broken English" are incorrect and demeaning.
You can read it for yourself here within John M. Lawler's website. A comment on it from a coauthor of The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language:
Educational conservatives often deny that prejudice is involved [in decrials of the language of Black citizens of the US], dismissing linnglishsguists' objective attitude toward nonstandard dialects as if it were just left-wing propaganda. But it is not. Even conservative linguists acknowledge the facts [about AAVE] mentioned earlier. The Linguistic Society of America's vote on a January 1997 resolution in support of the Oakland school board was unanimous.
Geoffrey K. Pullum, "African American Vernacular Language is not standard English with mistakes", in Rebecca S. Wheeler, ed., The Workings of Language (Westport, CT: Praeger, 1999) pp.56–57; online here (PDF) within the website of Arnold Zwicky. The resolution itself appears here; it reads in part:
[AAVE] is systematic and rule-governed like all natural speech varieties. In fact, all human linguistic systems -- spoken, signed, and written -- are fundamentally regular. The systematic and expressive nature of the grammar and pronunciation patterns of the African American vernacular has been established by numerous scientific studies over the past thirty years. Characterizations of Ebonics as "slang," "mutant," "lazy," "defective," "ungrammatical," or "broken English" are incorrect and demeaning.
"Most" does not belong at the start of the WP article's sentence, until there is evidence of a controversy among noteworthy linguists over the nature of AAVE. I'll call noteworthy linguists those who have a doctorate in some branch of linguistics, who have substantial linguistics publications in peer-reviewed journals or university presses or comparable non-vanity publishers, and who have tenure as teachers of linguistics within universities that are taken seriously. -- Hoary (talk) 07:38, 25 June 2015 (UTC)
And more. Within this extract from his book The Language Instinct, Steven Pinker deals with the opinions of the drama critic John Simon. After reformating (because the web page is a hideous mess), this reads:
Speaking of the American Black English dialect, Simon says
Why should we consider some, usually poorly educated, subculture's notion of the relationship between sound and meaning? And how could a grammar -- any grammar -- possibly describe that relationship? As for "I be," "you be," "he be," etc., which should give us all the heebie-jeebies, these may indeed be comprehensible, but they go against all accepted classical and modern grammars and are the product not of a language with roots in history but of ignorance of how language works.
This, of course, is nonsense from beginning to end (Black English Vernacular is uncontroversially a language with its own systematic grammar), but there is no point in refuting this malicious know-nothing, for he is not participating in any sincere discussion. Simon has simply discovered the trick used with great effectiveness by certain comedians, talk show hosts, and punk-rock musicians: people of modest talent can attract the attention of the media, at least for a while, by being unrelentingly offensive.
Paragraph division and underlining are mine. In context, I think that "uncontroversially" means something like "uncontroversially among those who knowledgably and dispassionately put forward evidence and arguments". There may be minor controversies over the details, but there is is no major controversy, just as there is none among experts over whether life on this planet originated more than six thousand years ago. Note also the reason given for not countering the wilfully ignorant: if some nitwit "language expert" gets an idiotic opinion piece into print and no actual linguist bothers to debunk this, it's because linguists have other and more pressing things to do than play whack-a-mole. -- Hoary (talk) 00:34, 26 June 2015 (UTC)
  • The fact that AAVE is a functional language is not controversial, but a standard finding in linguistics. There is no serious counterclaim to this finding, so "most" is not warranted in the least.·maunus · snunɐɯ· 05:56, 26 June 2015 (UTC)

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Failed verification?[edit]

Inspired by this edit by Peter238, I set out to verify if "deep" AAVE really maintains a contrast between /d/ and /ð/ while lighter forms of AAVE don't (something Google preview is unable to help me with). However, in the process, I noticed that the section on "deep" AAVE incorporates citations from Green (2002) even though she doesn't seem to mention "deep" AAVE and that the features she covers aren't parsed in that way. As such, it seems inappropriate to cite her for the lowering of /ɪ/ before /ŋ/. Is there a motivation for putting her claim there or is this an oversight? — Ƶ§œš¹ [lɛts b̥iː pʰəˈlaɪˀt] 14:38, 23 February 2016 (UTC)

Regarding your removal of the your/you're contrast, I checked Florini, and it does give those examples e.g. "yo girlfriend" (your girlfriend) but "you tryin" (you're tryin). Seems pretty unproblematic, and I have certainly heard that same contrast in spoken AAVE.·maunus · snunɐɯ· 17:19, 4 July 2016 (UTC)
Oh hey, thanks. I was having trouble accessing that article. — Ƶ§œš¹ [lɛts b̥iː pʰəˈlaɪˀt] 17:24, 4 July 2016 (UTC)
Sci-Hub is your friend. :)·maunus · snunɐɯ· 17:28, 4 July 2016 (UTC)

More sociolinguistics: Who speaks it?[edit]

I (who have never been to the US) would be interested in more sociolinguistic information. We have a single sentence, as far as I can see, stating that not all black Americans speak AAVE (which is rather obvious). Can we get more information? Is there a shift in the younger generation, for example? Etc. Thanks! — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:18, 3 September 2016 (UTC)

I have never been to the US either, but I have a book titled "African American Hip Hop Slang: A Sociolinguistic Study of Street Speech". It probably has some information about the topic you're interested in and if I find some time I'll expend that section. Tashi Talk to me 23:42, 3 September 2016 (UTC)

"5-0" as an AAVE lexical item[edit]

Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't "5-0" just come from the TV show Hawaii Five-O? If so, can we really call it a specifically AAVE lexical item? 2602:306:CFEA:170:E422:F154:B569:4484 (talk) 00:59, 5 October 2016 (UTC)

It's a matter of usage more than etymology. A number of these AAVE lexical items are identical in form to standard English terms, but with distinct meanings. — Ƶ§œš¹ [lɛts b̥iː pʰəˈlaɪˀt] 03:31, 5 October 2016 (UTC)

"Further reading" 30em?[edit]

Is it preferred to have the further reading section in one long list or can I change it to 35em [which would invoke 2 columns] or 30em for 3?--Jennica / talk 05:47, 5 January 2017 (UTC)

I think you should do it.·maunus · snunɐɯ· 06:12, 5 January 2017 (UTC)

"African American Vernacular English"?[edit]

I'm getting increasingly uncomfortable with the match between (A) the title of this article and the term primarily used within it ("African American Vernacular English") and (B) the content of the article. And while I may be dissatisfied with this or that emphasis within the article, the problem for me isn't the content but the title/term.

I think "African American English" would be more suitable. In my understanding, "AAVE" is a good and proper term, but one better understood as corresponding fairly well to McWhorter's "'deep' Black English" (and not encompassing his "'light' Black English"). If I remember right -- the relevant PDFs are mislaid somewhere within my hard drive -- Arthur K. Spears distinguishes between "AAVE" and "African American Standard English", similarly to McWhorter's "deep" and "light".

(With "fairly well" and "more or less", of course I'm deliberately hedging here. At this stage I don't want to get bogged down in the minutiae.)

Plain "African American English" is an established term -- for example, it's what both Lisa Green and Arthur K. Spears use. (It may be a little commoner too.)

The only argument I can think of now for retaining "Vernacular" in the title is that somebody might claim that "African American English" implies that African Americans always/necessarily speak a distinctive kind of English, whereas in fact they don't and an implication that they do would be racist. This reasoning seems a bit perverse to me, and we don't worry about analogous matters elsewhere: We have "Texan English", not "Texan vernacular English", etc.

If we do make this change, then the category too should be renamed ... et cetera. In matters such as this, I think that "Be bold" means "be hot-headed and arrogant". Let's instead discuss the matter. Comments from Ƶ§œš¹, snunɐɯ, others? (I think that "Handpolk" is no more.) -- Hoary (talk) 02:21, 4 April 2017 (UTC)

  • Perhaps he field has moved on from AAVE to just AAE, but I do think we need to consider the most common usage for the title (I definitely don't think McWhorter's terms have much purchase). I don't mind either way, as long as we make an informed decision that corresponds with the newest literature.·maunus · snunɐɯ· 04:07, 4 April 2017 (UTC)
I'd agree that "deep" and "light" seem little used, and don't recommend using them (other than when quoting McWhorter, of course). What interests me is that McWhorter is saying that "Black English" comes in different shades. Spears uses different terminology but says something similar. I don't recommend "Black English" (pleasantly concise though it is), but suggest that we talk of "African American English", and only where appropriate for a narrower meaning, "African American [whatever] English". -- Hoary (talk) 04:36, 4 April 2017 (UTC)
An n-gram suggests that "African American English" is currently more commonly used than "African American Vernacular English" (though not counting AAVE which is much more common than either of those).·maunus · snunɐɯ· 11:17, 4 April 2017 (UTC)
I think the argument against taking out "vernacular" has been strawmanned a bit. I object to the implication that all AA's speak this form of English, but whether it's racist or not is not as relevant compared to whether it's accurate. Still, this implication wouldn't be too serious, especially considering the blurred boundaries with AA(V)E. But there is also the consideration that taking out "vernacular" omits the socioeconomic element of AA(V)E. I have seen reference to "Southern White Vernacular English" (which Southern American English mentions in passing) as being on par with AAVE in that there is a negative correlation between education and usage of the variety (or, at least, exclusive usage). But, as others have said, we should reflect what is common in the literature or pick a neutral term if there is no single common one. — Ƶ§œš¹ [lɛts b̥iː pʰəˈlaɪˀt] 15:30, 4 April 2017 (UTC)
Interesting discussion. I myself have struggled between the two when creating presentations or writings. I agree that we should go with what is the most common in the academic research. Now the question is: How do we find that out? Wolfdog (talk) 02:04, 6 April 2017 (UTC)
It's not just a question of which is the the commoner term (even among those who know). Instead, we should look at how the terms are used. ¶ Unfortunately I'm no sociolinguist. But it seems to me common sense -- ha! yes, alarm bells should go off at any appeal to this -- that a lect can come in different degrees, or depths, or saliences, or whatever. If this is so (and I'm vaguely aware of mesolect versus basilect) then it's hardly surprising if there's a spectrum (or if there are spectra) of a lect. I'm sorry, I still don't have access to Spears's papers: they're on a computer 15 km from where I now sit. I'll try to remember to get them a couple of days from now. But in the meantime, I hazily remember that Spears, as a linguist who's an L1 speaker of African American English, is annoyed (with reason) by the lack of recognition that there's an African American Standard English, very roughly the kind of English that African Americans are likely to use among themselves on rather formal occasions. (Of course this notion doesn't deny that the speakers also speak General American when they wish.) He uses the term African American Vernacular English for what I think would be called the basilect. (Again, NB I'm not a sociolingist.) When generalizing, as he often does, he talks of African American English. Sorry I can't cite confidently and accurately right now; but if I recall all this correctly, then we have at least one scholar in the field providing a reasoned objection to our current use in the article of "AAVE". Green also uses "African American English". Is there any notable scholar in the field who expresses dissatisfaction with the term "African American English" and insists on "AAVE", even to encompass what McWhorter calls "'light' black English"? -- Hoary (talk) 02:34, 9 April 2017 (UTC)
Not useful. Don't like the article? Try WP:AFD.
The following discussion has been closed. Please do not modify it.

Extremely biased and idiotic article

Why does this article treat black slang as somehow magically a legitimate dialect? It's clearly not, and the so-called "linguists" who claim it is are obviously doing so for political reasons, like the "sociologists" who hysterically claim there are more than two genders. "One myth is that AAVE is grammatically simple or sloppy. Another is that AAVE is the native dialect (or even more inaccurately, a linguistic fad) employed by all African Americans." This passage from the article just cites some random leftist academic without explaining how ebonic slang isn't grammatically simple or sloppy or an antisocial fad despite it violating several fundamental grammatical rules of English. Some examples from this article: "Cause my baby, he done left this town." "Don't nobody know my trouble but God." "He be working Tuesdays." Only an ignoramus would speak in such a manner. "He done left"? That's nonsense, not English. "Don't nobody know my trouble but God." Also nonsense. The "don't" doesn't belong there, it's a double negative, and it should be knows. "He be working Tuesdays." This sentence fails to properly conjugate the most common verb in English. These examples clearly show this so-called "dialect" violates the most basic rules and grammar of English and therefore is not a real dialect. Only an imbecile or a foreigner would speak in such a manner. Therefore, these ebonics are clearly slang and broken English used by simpletons. I fully expect some triggered SJW is going to dismiss these truths as "racist trolling." You people love to accuse normal people of racism when you can think of no rational way to counter an argument.

This article clearly violates WP:NPOV and WP:FRINGE because it absurdly employs doublethink by claiming this ungrammatical slang isn't slang. I suspect it was written by far-leftist extremists who reject reality and therefore needs a thorough rewrite. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:58, 31 May 2017 (UTC)

You have a point.
But if you comb your hair right and wear a hat, maybe nobody will notice. Herostratus (talk) 01:39, 31 May 2017 (UTC)
RS or GTFO. --ChiveFungi (talk) 02:25, 31 May 2017 (UTC)
@, I consider myself a right-winger but also as a student of linguistic I find what you have written simply stupid. There are two attitudes towards grammar - descriptive and prescriptive - and for many scholars there's no such a thing like "correct English". You need to consider that AAVE was born when black people didn't have their rights to learn proper English so they stated mixing the rules they knew from their native languages with the English they would hear from their owners. I may agree that in many cases it violates NPOV but saying that it's not a dialect because it uses double negation is an absurd argument because there are many other English dialects that have this property and many many more other rules that would normally be considered wrong. Tashi Talk to me 21:55, 31 May 2017 (UTC)
Editors, there is nothing wrong with this section. It is neither a hate speech nor is it vandalization. In fact, it was well-writen and certain points should be noted and understood rather than written off. As for the intelligence level that was brought into question by a reverter, that is for you to decide and to draw that conclusion for yourself. We are not censoring anything here as there was nothing profane about this piece. Regards. Savvyjack23 (talk) 21:43, 3 June 2017 (UTC)
I'm going to copy and paste what I wrote on Tashi's page:

Do you really need it to be spelled out why the comment is vandalism / hateful speech? Unproductively, the editor with flagrant bias:

  • Offensively accuses other editors of white guilt, social justice warriorism, and "far-leftist" extremism
  • Offensively attacks linguistics and sociology as entire disciplines
  • Offensively equates the terms gangsta rap and "antisocial fad"
  • Offensively labels an entire group's natural way of speaking "nonsense"
  • Offensively (and bizarrely) refers to the dozens of credible and respected authors cited on the page as "some random leftist academic", as if it's all somehow just one source
  • Offensively denigrates AAVE speakers as "simpletons"
  • Contradicts established rules of the scientific study known as linguistics
  • Does all this without a single WP:RELIABLE source for support

This is speech absolutely intended to anger and inflame others: WP:PERSONAL ATTACKS and WP:TROLLing. The entire comment itself is a rant that actually expects no real respectful or open-minded dialogue, already preparing for a backlash of even-keeled critics due to its awareness of itself as a deliberately hostile tirade. And now we're spending time bickering about it. I'm explaining this for your sake because it needs to be made absolutely crystal clear that it's hateful. Otherwise, I'd simply have ignored the issue and recommended that we not feed the trolls. Wolfdog (talk) 01:05, 4 June 2017 (UTC)