Author Information

Christelle Lauture


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 (SE) by users of SE, 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, the 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 SE.

Note on the Author

Christelle Lauture is a graduating senior majoring in English with a minor in Graphic Design. She completed her research project in Summer 2019 through the Adrian Tinsley Program, under the mentorship of Dr. Emily Field (English Department and African American Studies Program). She has since been developing and expanding her research for her honors thesis, to be completed in May 2020. She plans to further her studies in linguistics in the future.

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