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date: 23 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

A focus on a core set of basilectal structures in non-Southern urban communities obscured regional variation in early sociolinguistic studies of African American English (AAE). However, community comparisons, particularly in the rural South, indicate that regionality has played an essential role in the past and present development of the variety. This current analysis compares apparent time evidence for AAE from a range of communities in the Southeastern United states. We consider a host of morphosyntactic, consonantal, and vocalic variables (e.g., postvocalic r-lessness and –s absence) across each community. Our analysis illustrates how particular sociohistorical and demographic community structures foster localized AAE, as well as how changes to these structures influence trajectories of change for local varieties of AAE. A consideration of regionality in AAE is crucial to theorizing past and future developments of the ethnolect; as such, place as a variable in AAE deserves increased attention.

Keywords: regionality, African American English (AAE), regional variation, ethnolect, Southeastern United states, sociohistorical, postvocalic r-lessness, –s absence, North Carolina

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