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date: 22 September 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Prosody appears to play a key role in making the speech of many African Americans recognizable, but defining exactly what makes it distinctive has been an elusive goal. Several prosodic features contribute to the overall distinctiveness of African American English (AAE) prosody. Forestressing, the tendency to shift the primary stress in words such as July to the first syllable, is shared with Southern White vernaculars. Research on speech rate has produced ambiguous results. Investigation of prosodic rhythm suggests that early AAE was more syllable-timed than today’s highly stress-timed AAE. Some research has found that some African American groups use the range of F0 values differently from European Americans. Finally, intonation studies have produced substantial evidence that many African Americans show distinctively AAE intonational characteristics, both within utterances and at the end of utterances, but there is no consensus yet on how to describe the features that make AAE intonation distinctive.

Keywords: African American English (AAE), forestressing, rhythm, prosodic rhythm, prosody, intonation, stress-time, syllable-time, speech rate

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