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date: 23 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

It is now widely accepted that most of the grammar of African American Vernacular English (AAVE) derives from English dialectal sources—in particular, the settler dialects introduced into the American South during the 17th and 18th centuries. The roots of AAVE were established during the first century of the British colonization of America, in the Chesapeake Bay area (Virginia and Maryland), and later, in the Carolinas and Georgia. The socio-historical evidence suggests that conditions in most of the South were favorable for Blacks to acquire relatively close approximations of the dialects spoken by White settlers, particularly indentured servants. Since Blacks were exposed to a variety of British English dialects and shaped by influence from African languages and possibly also from creole varieties introduced by slaves brought from the Caribbean, AAVE evolved against a background of continuing language contact.

Keywords: African American Vernacular English (AAVE), British English dialects, creole varieties, African languages, language contact, sociohistorical evidence, indentured servants

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