Abstract and Keywords
A well-known principle of sociolinguistics is that languages reflect the people who speak them: social divisions result in associated differences in linguistic behavior. One of the main divisions is ethnic: North American English includes a wide range of ethnic dialects, or ethnolects, such as African American and Latino English, in addition to the 'standard' varieties associated with people of British and, later, European ethnic ancestry. This article focuses on the main types and most important studies of ethnic variation in North American English, with a special emphasis on subtler examples of ethnolectal variation among groups of European origin. It argues that the history of English in North America should be viewed not only in terms of its linear, language-internal development from British inputs in the seventeenth century, but also in terms of its contact with other North American languages, since these interfaces have played a crucial role in producing the unique varieties of English currently spoken in North America.
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