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date: 08 May 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines variation in the North Midlands African American Language (AAL) varieties in Pittsburgh and the Lower Susquehanna Valley (LSV). The focus is on phonological/phonetic, lexical, and to a lesser extent syntactic variation. We review historical information on settler groups and African American presence in earlier periods in both areas and discuss implications for influence on the contemporary AAL. The results of a new data analysis of vowel variation in the LSV are compared with existing reports for Pittsburgh AAL. Whereas LSV AAL shows some similarities to Pittsburgh AAL (e.g., the pool/pull merger), it lacks other features (e.g., the cot/caught merger, which is pervasive in Pittsburgh AAL). We also find differences between LSV AAL speakers who seem to want to identify as both “authentically Black” and local and Pittsburgh AAL speakers who are concerned with differentiating themselves from Whites and where sounding “local” tends to be equated with “Whiteness”.

Keywords: African American Language (AAL), contact, Lower Susquehanna Valley (LSV), merger, North Midlands, Pittsburgh, local

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