Date: Sun, 05 Jan 1997 13:07:40 -0500 (EST) From: Jack Sidnell Subject: Structural differences Sender: To: Cc: MIME-version: 1.0 Precedence: bulk

>While not wishing to deny the importance of discourse markers in the process of communication, I wanted to post a general outline of some of the major structural differences between AAVE and White Dialects in the United States. AAVE is not simply an accent. It differs grammatically from other dialects in important respects. Some of these differences show a striking resemblence to patterns in Caribbean Creoles and West African languages.

>The following is taken from my lecture notes. The sources are

>J. Rickford (1977) "The Question of Prior Creolization in Black
>English." in A. Valdman ed. _Pidgin and Creole Linguistics_ Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

>W. Labov (1982) "Objectivity and Commitment..." _Language and

>Other good sources include

>J. Baugh (1983) _Black Street Speech: its history, structure and survival_
Austin: University of Texas Press.

>G. Smitherman (1977) _Talkin' and Testifyin': the language of Black America_
Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

>G. Smitherman (1981) "What come round go round: King in perspective. Harvard
Educational Review. 1:40-56.

>M. Morgan (1994) "The African-American Speech Community: Reality
>and Sociolinguists." in M. Morgan ed. _Language and the Social Construction of Identity in Creole Situations_ UCLA: Center for African American Studies.

>A great many more grammatical, phonological, lexical and pragmatic differences between white and black vernaculars are discusssed in these works. The following is only a tentative summary of some of the most well documented.

>The following is simply a list of features - it neither supports nor argues against the introduction of AAVE into the classroom. I think it does however give some validity to the calim that 1. AAVE is in some ways a seperate system 2. as such it should be recognized as an alternate language. As I understand it, this all the Oakland Board wants - recognition of the fact that AAVE is alternate and ethnically based communication system.

>Some ditinctive features of AAVE and their relation to the Caribbean Creoles:

>A. Phonology:

>-Consonant Cluster reduction
>-loss of t or d when it is the second member of a word-final cluster. (test, mind, left, stabbed.)
>-consonant cluster simplification occurs only variably in B.E.V.
according to several conditioning factors.
>-following vowel, seperate morpheme.

>-Twi does not have /st,ld,rd,nd/ clusters in single syllables.
>-but does have /kp,gb,jw/ so it is not a question of transference of some general principle.

>-consonant cluster simplification occurs in a wide range of dialects, substratal influence argument is strained.

>-divergence? B.E.V.: grammatical constraints are less important than the phonological ones.
>-reverse situation for white dialects.

>-another significant difference is the lack of the final consonant in the underlying from. (des(k), ghos(t), toas{t}, tes(t).)
>-Caribbean Creoles: characteristically show categorical reduction in the basilect (ie. no cluster in the underlying form).
>-also show word-initial reduction ((s)plit, (s)queeze). -and vowel insertion (s(u)muud)

>-r-deletion: cf Rickford pp201-203.

>-loss of initial voiced stops in auxillaries:
>-this is not a process commeon to the white dialects. -B.E.V. it is possible to reduce "Don't" to o, "didn't" to in. "going
to" to m.
>-Jamaican Creole: ben to en
>-Gullah: da to a
>-Guyanese Creole: bin to in, don to on. -this kind of initial stop deletion happens only in the grammatical class of auxillary verbs.

>-intionation is a characteristic of the speech of many African-American speakers who would not normally be considered spakers of B.E.V. proper (cf. Spears). -Rickford's preliminary study shows some systematic difference between
black and white speakers of english

>B. Syntax/semantics:

>-stressed bin:
>-"remote", "perfective", total completion with non-statives
>She bin tell me that

>-"distantly initiated state is still in force or relevant"

>I bin know you you know.
>-"I have known you for a long time and still do."

>She bin married
>-"She got married along time ago, and still is." -White speakers are likely to interpret this as "she was married but
now she's not." English Present Perfect.

>-Rickford: "Do you get the idea that she's married now." Blacks: 23 of 25 said yes
>Whites: 8 of 25 said yes

>-although the role of stativity is similar to Creoles there is no
comparable usage of BIN in Caribbean creoles
>mi bin gat wan dog "may not still have it" mi don gat wan dog "still has the dog", but not remote.

>-aux had:
>-in G.C. had is a replacement for bin (did) -B.E.V. show higher frequency of had in a wider range of environments
(than white dialects).
>-did a similar replacement process occur in B.E.V.?

>-invariant be:
>-West African languages have a similar grammaticalized habitual marker. -more directly: Gullah has constructions such as:
>She doz be sick. "She is usually sick." -doz reduces (see intial stop deletion in aux)
>She z be sick.
>She 0 be sick.

>-se complemtnizer
>-obvious calque on some West African languages which use a verb of
saying to introduce sentential complements to verbs such as "think",
"know", "tell", "believe" etc.

>4. The copula in A.A.V.E. and C.E.C.

>-where other dialects show two forms of the copula (various finite forms of be as main verb and progressive auxilliary) B.E. has four.

>(1) a. He is always doing that. b. He is tired out. (2) a. He's always doing that. b. He's tired out. (3) a. He always doing that. b. He tired out.
>(4) a. He be always doing that. b. He be tired out.

>Labov's Argument: in "Deletion and Conraction..." in Language in the
Inner City

>-cf. the article by Labov "Objectivity and Commitment" for figures.
>-Where other dialects can contract, as in 2, B.E. can delete as in 3. So there is no deletion in Where he is - *Where he's - Where he.
>-Phonological and Grammatical constraints on contraction and deletion are the same. If a phonological or grammatical environment favors contraction it will also favour deletion. -Quantitative arguments thus showed that B.E. was a seperate though related system.
>-found deletion and contraction and contraction as parallel processes in white and black vernaculars.

>Baugh's Reassesment

>-Locative vs. adjective
>-Labov grouped them together but Baugh split them and calculated as distinct constraints.
>-he found that Black and White speakers differes fundamentally here
>-Whereas in W.E.V. a following adjective stongly disfavoured contraction while a following locative favoured contraction: -In B.E.V. the situation was just the reverse -Ajectives strongly favour both contraction and deletion while locatives disfavour it.
>-Now if we consider BIckerton's analysis of G.C. we will see a striking parallel.
>-In G.C. basilectal adjectives never have a copula -Even in the mesolect it is not until a very late stage that copula's are introduced in this area.
>-Locatives almost always take a copula in G.C. ( i de de - "he is there")

>Winford _Predication in Caribbean English Creole_ John Benjamins:

>-Adjectives don't take a copula in Creole because they are not adjetives.
>-they are attributive predicators having a strong processual aspect to them
>-This is also true of West African Languages where the distinction between some kinds of adjectives and verbs is not made.
>-"Adjectival" meanings are expressed by resulative verbs -it is not surprising then that we find adj in verb positions Dem sik mi "they made me sick."
>-So it would seem that there is no underlying copula in this context.
>-morphological insertion rules are introduced in the mesolect. (iz).(Ralph Fasold)
>-In B.E.V. (as a very late decreolizing stage) morphological insertion rules have given way to an underlying copula and phonological deletion rules
>-But some researchers have found subjects with a near categorical rate of deletion in some contexts (including adjectival) should we suppose that they have an underlying copula or that they have a more creole-like grammar?

>What we Know about B.E.V.:

>1. B.E. is a seperate subsystem of English with a distinct set of phonological and syntactic rules that are aligned in many ways with the rules of other dialects.

>2. It incoporates some aspects of Southern phonology, morphology and syntax,
>Black speakers have exerted an influence on Southern White Speech aswell.

>3. Present forms of B.E. may show evidence of an earlier creole close in structure to the Creoles of the Caribbean.

>4. It has a highly developed ASPECT system which is quite different from the aspect systems of other dialects.

>2. The T.M.A. system in A.A.V.E. (bin, be, be done, come, steady)

>-A.A.V.E. has a highly developed system of Tense, Aspect and Modality.

>-Stressed bin (cf above)

>future perfective be done
>-generally equivalent to the future perfect other dialects. 1.'Cause I'll be done put - stuck so many holes in him he'll wish he wouldna said it.
>2.We be done washed all the cars by the time JoJo gets back with the

>-Here be done does the typical work of the future perfect and may be
translated as "will have". It is placed in the predication of some future event that has relevance to some other event even further in the future.
>-Other cases there is no translation into S.E.

>3.I'll be done killed that motherfucker if he tries to lay a hand on my kid again

>-cannot be translated as "I will have..." -the be done placed not on the first future event (laying a hand on the kid) but on the second (killed). -signals perfect completion of the action rather than the relation of
that action to the state of event that follows.
>-Point: in cases like be done and come there are no direct translations.
>-distinct aspect system (system for representiong the internal structure of actions.)

>-come (modal semi-auxillary.) FROM A. SPEARS in _Language_
>-Used to express the speaker's indignation about an action or event as in.

>4."He come walkin' in here like he owned the damn place."

>-camouflauged:"phonologically similar or identical to froms in the base language (the source of most of the lexical items), but which are used with different semantic values." -Even very standard varieties of A.A.V.E. may include substantial camouflauged grammatical differences from Standard White English.
>-the distinctively A.A.V.E. use of come as expressing moral indignation as opposed to MOTION can be seen in sentences where it combines with other motion verbs:

>5."She come going in my room - didn't knock or nothing."

>-come and going imply movement in different directions -but this is a perfectly acceptable sentence with a well define
meaning for speakers of A.A.V.E..

>-steady (intensified continuative aspect marker).from J. BAugh
>-marks actions that occur consistently, persistently and vigorously.
>-Camouflauged - resembles "steadily"
>-some overlap in semantic meanings but also distinctive:

>6."Ricky Bell be steady steppin' in them number nines." 7."Her mouth be steady runnin'"

>-Also clause finnaly with stress:

>8."All the homeboys be rappin' STEADY."

>-subject of the sentence must be animate and specific: -*"A boy be steady rappin'"
>-Both "steadily" and steady imply "continous" action. -However in white dialects usually "steadily" implies calmness and
>-this contrasts with the use of steady in AAVE which is used to express intense, vigorous and often "out-of-control" actions.