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date: 23 July 2019

Abstract and Keywords

African American English is used in this chapter as an umbrella term for Gullah and African American Vernacular English (AAVE) to underscore structural features they share as a consequence of being lexified by colonial nonstandard English under the influence of similar African substrate languages. Gullah and AAVE appear to have evolved separately and concurrently: the former is a byproduct of rice cultivation in coastal South Carolina and Georgia, whereas the latter emerged on tobacco and cotton plantations of the Southeast and spread to other parts of the USA with the Great Migration. Having the same origins as American Southern English, AAVE appears to have been fostered as an ethnolect by Jim Crow. The evidence adduced for the creole-origins hypothesis is questionable, just as the English-origins hypothesis is too strong. The ecological account provided here confirms that all evolution is local, driven by local ecological factors.

Keywords: African American Vernacular English (AAVE), ecology, Jim Crow, Great Migration, plantations, American Southern English, colonial nonstandard English, Gullah, English-origins hypothesis, creole-origins hypothesis

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