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Language Contact in the Inner City: the Acquisition of AAVE Features by Bilingual Hispanic Adolescents

Description: Sociolinguists working in Northern urban areas have shown that Hispanics who come in contact with African Americans sometimes acquire features of African American vernacular English (AAVE). However, the acquisition of AAVE features by Hispanics in the South has yet to be documented. Specifically, no one has studied the kind of English that Hispanics in Texas are acquiring. The present study investigates this issue through research in an inner-city area of Dallas: Oak Cliff. During the past twenty-five years, the population of Oak Cliff has changed from a largely African American community to include a substantial number of Hispanics. Though their neighborhoods remain fairly separate, sports and gangs provide an arena for extended contact. This study investigates the extent to which AAVE grammatical features are being acquired by bilingual Hispanic adolescents who hang out with African Americans. The analysis for this paper focuses on the relationship between contact and depth of acquisition of AAVE syntactic constraints on the use the copula (is/are, be). Preliminary results show that be+V+ing as an habitual form has been incorporated into the grammar of these subjects, suggesting fundamental changes towards an AAVE grammatical system.
Date: August 1998
Creator: Coleman, Jeffrey Alan
Partner: UNT Libraries