of scholarly writings about

African American English


Here you'll find a series of summaries of (mostly) academic journal articles and book chapters about AAE. The purpose of this page is to make available short, accurate and neutral accounts of important literature by sociolinguists and dialectologists on this important topic.

The summaries were mostly written by students in my Fall 1997 seminar on AAE at Georgetown University (here's the syllabus). During the seminar, participants were asked to write summaries and told the good ones would eventually be put on the web as a resource; the instructions said,

"[These summaries are] not intended to be a mini-essay or collection of your original insights, but something more modest - a simple abstract or description of the contents, such as you would find helpful in an online abstracts service."

They've been very lightly edited, mostly for grammar/spelling. At their request, the authors are not identified individually; but the list of participants in the seminar collectively identifies the authors (titles of their seminar papers are also here, below). A few summaries were written by me -- these are identified "[by PLP]" at the end -- and many of the ones written by students have notes or additions by me [in italics & square brackets]; I compiled others from two or more good student-authored ones, sometimes adding transitions. A couple of very brief summaries are taken from other sources, and acknowledged.

I have only begun to post the first of these summaries, and will add more (there are about 50) as I have time. I hope they'll be a useful resource for students of African American language. If you're familiar with one of the works summarized (esp. if you are the author of one!) and have comments, corrections or protests, please email me.

You can access the summaries by going to the Bibliography and clicking on the highlighted [author/year]. You can also use the list of all summaries at the bottom of this page.


Regular participants:

Seminar papers:

Carrie Crockett (Memphis, Tennessee)

"A synchronic assessment of significant features of Black and White speech in Memphis, Tenn."

Jeff Deby (Vancouver, Canada)

"We’re not laughing with you, we’re laughing at you: AAVE borrowing in gay white men’s discourse."

Nonyem Doy Iweh (Nigeria)

"Crossing with African American Vernacular English: the case of a teenage Nigerian ‘crosser’."

Kanako Ohara (Japan)

"Accent discrimination in employment: Race versus national origin."

Katie Thomas Trites (Philadelphia, PA)

"Discourse markers in the AFS Ex-Slave narratives: A specific look at yeah, yes, no and why."

Jirada Wudthayagorn (Thailand)

"The speech act ‘apology’ of AAVE speakers: A Discourse Completion Test."

Virginia Zavala (LR ma, Peru)

"African American Vernacular English and Atlantic Creole ‘ways of speaking’ compared."



Visitors, auditors and speakers:


John Inniss

Africanist and AAVE scholar at University of Delaware

Jason Miller

Graduate student and research assistant at Georgetown University, J helped w/bibliography & research materials

Randy Louis Preston

Graduate student auditor at Georgetown University

Maggie Ronkin

Gave paper on "Mock Ebonics" (article w/Helen Karn will appear in Journal of Sociolinguistics 3(3), 1999)

Julie Dawn Sweetland

See abstract of paper "Beyond crossing: AAVE in informal interactions between White and Black friends" (NWAV '98).

Dr. Faye Vaughn-Cooke

Then professor at U. District of Columbia, she spoke on forthcoming work relating AAVE and Ebonics issues to the English-Only linguistic discrimination movement.


List of Summaries



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 Last updated: 16 September 1999