from sea to shining sea
john baugh and robert macneil at slavery museum, detroit

Dialect or Creole?
What are the origins of this variety?

Up from Slavery
Library of Congress recordings of ex-slaves and slave descendants

What is Ebonics?
Linguistics Society backgrounder

Additional Resources
African American  Index

African American English
Immigrant groups from every part of the world have routinely brought their language to the United States, speaking it in the company of other fluent speakers. Every group except one:  African Americans. Learn more about what has been described at various times as Black English (BE), Black English Vernacular (BEV), African American Vernacular English (AAVE), Ebonics and African American English (AAE).

When Linguistic Worlds Collide
The roots of the distinctive speech of many African Americans remains controversial, stemming from a long and often bitter history. Walt Wolfram and Benjamin Torbert trace the fascinating origins of AAVE.

Ebony + Phonics: Comprehending Ebonics
John Baugh explains how the term Ebonics came into being.

Ebonics Timeline
A historical snapshot of the controversies surrounding the concept.

Hooked on Ebonics: Validating Home Language
At the end of 1996, the Oakland, CA school board inspired nationwide debate with its endorsement of "Ebonics" as a separate language. Responding to the furor, Dennis Baron clarified the role of English among African Americans - in school and out.

"Springville," Texas
For more than 17 years Guy Bailey and Patricia Cukor-Avila have been conducting a remarkable piece of research into the language of local African Americans in a real Texas town they re-named "Springville" to protect the citizens' privacy. Their studies have national implications and indicate African American and white English are moving further and further apart.

Iming in Appalachia
The hills of North Carolina are alive with interesting language - including Instant Messenger conversations between two young African Americans. Christine Mallinson and Becky Childs explore what their chats say about this corner of America.

Power of Prose: The Harlem Renaissance
Christa Smith Anderson discusses how early 20th-century writers associated with the Harlem Renaissance and the New Negro Renaissance movements broke with Standard American English and gave literature a rich new voice.

Suggested Reading/Additional Resources

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National Endowment
for the Humanities

William and Flora Hewlett


Rosalind P.

Arthur Vining
Davis Foundations

Corporation of New York