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date: 21 November 2017

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter situates the English Origins Hypothesis within academic and public discourses on language, ethnicity, and contact, suggesting that these may have influenced responses to the hypothesis. The chapter outlines the methodological preferences of many scholars working in this framework (quantitative analysis of the linguistic constraints on mostly morphosyntactic variation) and describes major findings for verb morphology, question formation, negation, and relativization. In each case, researchers have found strong similarities between the linguistic conditioning of variables in diverse instantiations of earlier African American English (AAE) and in English dialects that may have served as a model for early generations of AAE speakers. After enumerating and evaluating some critiques of the hypothesis, the chapter considers the utility, applications, and limitations of this and competing hypotheses, briefly discusses the relevance to the origins debate of internal regional variation in AAE, and concludes by proposing areas of potential agreement between origins hypotheses.

Keywords: African American English (AAE), dialects, contact, relativization, regional variation, origins debate, morphosyntax, English Origins Hypothesis, negation, question formation

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