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date: 21 November 2017

Abstract and Keywords

The creolist hypothesis goes back at least to 1964 when Bill Stewart and Beryl Bailey expressed the view that African American Vernacular English (AAVE) descended from a widespread full creole. Modern creolists do not support the idea of a widespread full creole in earlier times but speak instead of creole influences on AAVE. Six main kinds of evidence are relevant, but three are considered here: sociohistorical conditions, differences from English dialects, and similarities to known creoles. Next, I turn to AAVE copula absence, noting that this feature is rare or non-existent in British dialects but similar to Caribbean and other Anglophone creoles in its following grammatical conditioning. Finally, I emphasize the need for new research on copula absence in southern areas where little or no variationist research has been done, and for sociohistorical research on the language, culture and interactions of Blacks and Whites from the seventeenth century on.

Keywords: Creolist hypothesis, African American Vernacular English (AAVE), sociohistory, copula absence, English dialects, British dialects, Caribbean creoles, Anglophone creoles, grammatical conditioning

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