Sociolinguistic issues on African American Vernacular English (AAVE)
Fernández Beobide, Ainhoa
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African American Vernacular English (AAVE) is one of the most studied varieties of English due to the heated debates that have surrounded this variety over the years. Since the 1960s, research into AAVE has increased significantly. Although there is now a lot of information about AAVE, no consensus has been reached on some of the controversies the variety has sparked. This paper attempts to give an overview of AAVE as a variety of English spoken in the United States, addressing the main research topics that have been studied by different scholars. For this purpose, it is divided into three main sections. The first part deals with the origin and development of AAVE. In this section, the origin of the variety is described along with the hypotheses proposed about its creation and development, which are one of the main causes of debate concerning the variety. Secondly, the linguistic characteristics of AAVE are discussed as a way of showing the legitimacy of the variety. Given space constraints, this section is restricted to morpho-syntax and phonology. Finally, the section about attitudes towards AAVE deals with the controversy surrounding the legitimacy of the variety, as well as educational issues regarding the methods of improving the performance of African American students. AAVE became known to the world as a result of the Oakland Resolution Controversy, which exposed the American people’s beliefs about linguistic diversity and the lack of knowledge they had on the subject. As a consequence, AAVE became better known and began to be more investigated by scholars.