Document Type



African American Vernacular English (AAVE) has been spoken by African Americans for centuries but has only recently been acknowledged as a distinct dialect. It is often used in tandem with Standard English, through a concept referred to as code-switching. Although linguists have done substantial work to validate AAVE, there is an incomplete understanding of why the dialect developed, and, in particular, what functions the dialect serves for its speakers. In order to begin the work of discovering why AAVE developed the specific features it manifests, I synthesized other linguists’ observations into a taxonomy of five categories that account for most of the dialect’s unique features. My project elaborates on the functions of the categories of tense/mode variation, negation, absence, prosody/pronunciation, and what Zora Neale Hurston calls “the will to adorn” in AAVE, in comparison to Standard English.



Thesis Comittee

Dr. Emily D. Field, Thesis Advisor

Copyright and Permissions

Original document was submitted as an Honors Program requirement. Copyright is held by the author.