What is African American Language (AAL)?
- Black English "has a large body (perhaps 18 to 20 million) of living speakers, its history is traceable. . . , and its rules are essentially autonomous (regarded only by the linguistically naive as 'distortions' of other varieties of English)." -Joseph L. Dillard, "Perspectives on Black English," Readings in African American Language, p. 3
- African American Vernacular English "represents the totality of vernacular expression. AAVE should be understood as African American survival culture. On the level of language, although the majority of words are English in origin, their meanings are historically and contextually situated relevant to the experiences of African Americans." -Elaine Richardson, Hiphop Literacies, p. 37
- "The roots of African American speech lie in the counter language, the resistance discourse, that was created as a communication system unintelligible to speakers of the dominant master class. . . . This coded language served as a mark of social identity and a linguistic bond between enslaved Africans or disparate ethnicities, and in later years, between African Americans of disparate socio-educational classes. Today African American language, which may also be labeled U.S. Ebonics, is all over the nation and the globe." -Geneva Smitherman, Word From the Mother, pp. 3-4.
Who is writing about African American Language?
*Alim, H.S. (2006). Roc the mic right: The language of hip hop culture. New York: Routledge.
*Baugh, J. (1999). Out of the mouths of slaves. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press.
*Baugh, J. (2000). Beyond ebonics: Linguistic pride and racial prejudice. New York: Oxford University Press.
Gumperz, J.J. (1982). Language and social identity. New York: Cambridge University Press.
*Lanehart, S.L., ed. (2001). Sociocultural and historical contexts of African American English. Philadelphia:
*Norment, Jr., N. (2005). Readings in African American Language. New York: Peter Lang.
Ogbu, J. (1999). Beyond language: Ebonics, proper talk, and identity in a Black-American speech community.
American Educational Research Journal 36.2: 147-84.
*Richardson, Elaine. (2006). Hiphop literacies. New York: Routledge.
*Rickford, J.R. African American Vernacular English. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 1999.
*Smitherman, G. (2006.) Word from the mother: Language and African Americans. New York: Routledge.
*These texts are available in the Texas State University Writing Center.
Visit the Writing Center African American Language Discussion Board:
- Go to tracs.txstate.edu, and log in using your TSU username and password.
- Click on "Membership" in the lefthand menu to see the sites to which you belong.
- Click "Joinable Sites," search for "Writing Center," and click "Join."
- Go to the Writing Center tab that has been added to the top of your TRACS website.
- Click on "Message Center"