Talk:African-American English

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edit·history·watch·refresh Stock post message.svg To-do list for African-American English:

  • Coverage of the sociolinguistic aspects, especially positive and negative views of this variety in the USA, should be improved, using reliable sources and with regard to weight. ...added by User:Itsmejudith on 27 January 2010
  • Additional examples of movies and television that depict AAVE. ...added by User:Aeusoes1 on 5 March 2010

Each of these varieties, namely only one of them[edit]

Uh, Wolfdog, I'm sure that this edit was well-intentioned, but I'm not at all sure that it dispels confusion. Actually it reinforces my idea that this section, however written, doesn't belong here. (Perhaps it could be merged into AAVE.) -- Hoary (talk) 05:21, 3 May 2018 (UTC)

Honestly, I have no idea what you're talking about. But do whatever works for you. Wolfdog (talk) 21:33, 3 May 2018 (UTC)
Maybe it can appear in both articles? That is the AAVE section of this article. — Ƶ§œš¹ [lɛts b̥iː pʰəˈlaɪˀt] 21:41, 3 May 2018 (UTC)
I'm sorry if I was obscure. Let's just look at the start. As first added by ANTH-Conde:
For quite some time African American English has been associated with a lower level of education because it is believed that AAE is a lower-class variety of SAE. However, this idea is completely false. As early as the sixties, linguists were able to demonstrate that those who use AAE or black speech, do use a "legitimate, rule-governed, and fully developed dialect .
This cited this academic paper, only the first page of which can be read with no payment.
"Lower-class" in which sense -- associated with the lower socioeconomic classes, or simply inferior? If the former, well, the unfortunate fact is that the average socioeconomic class of Black people is low; the idea couldn't have been "completely false", and whether it was true or false anyway would have been independent of the syntax, etc, of the language. If it was simply inferior -- well, that would clearly have been mistaken, and thus appropriate here. This is what made me plump for "inferior" within the rewrite (by others as well as myself):
African-American English has been associated with a lower level of education because of a mistaken belief that AAE is an inferior variety of English. As early as the sixties, linguists demonstrated that AAE was a "legitimate, rule-governed, and fully developed dialect".
Within the single free-of-charge page of the article, all that seem to be about the old, mistaken ideas are:
  • The authors of [the Language Deficit Theory] believed that because children from lower socioeconomic backgrounds lacked verbal stimulation in their homes, they were not afforded the linguistic resources necessary for language success.
  • Early studies on the attitudes of teachers toward Black English-speaking students revealed that teachers consider [sic] the Black English language system inferior to that of middle-class Whites.
The matter isn't totally clear, but it seems to me to be saying that the mistaken idea was that Black English aka AAE was inferior (and that the inferiority was for reasons related to socioeconomic class).
After the most recent edit:
Nonstandard African-American varieties of English have been stereotypically associated with a lower level of education and low social status. Since the sixties, however, linguists have demonstrated that each of these varieties, and namely African-American Vernacular English, is a "legitimate, rule-governed, and fully developed dialect".
Well, linguists have indeed demonstrated that AAVE is a "legitimate, rule-governed, and fully developed dialect". But the paper uses the term "Black English" (which it describes as "the language of African American students"). So the choice of "AAVE" over "AAE" here is strange. Additionally, the first page of the cited paper is unconcerned with varieties within what it calls "Black English". And to posit varieties (plural) and then to name them as AAVE -- this utterly mystifies me. -- Hoary (talk) 23:31, 3 May 2018 (UTC)
I feel like your only real problem with my edit is my mention of "AAVE". AAVE is certainly the specific dialect most historically disparaged and stigmatized. However, if the source does not say that, then by all means feel free to remove the use of that term. (Remember too that AAVE, AAE, and/or Black English are commonly used synonymously by overly-generalizing sources -- in fact all the time.) Wolfdog (talk) 20:20, 4 May 2018 (UTC)
Also, it seems the full text is, in fact, available. Wolfdog (talk) 20:21, 4 May 2018 (UTC)

Move discussion in progress[edit]

There is a move discussion in progress on Talk:African-American gospel which affects this page. Please participate on that page and not in this talk page section. Thank you. —RMCD bot 23:20, 18 February 2019 (UTC)

Nonstandard plurals?[edit]

The article currently says (emphasis added):

The use of the zero copula (the absence of is or are, as in she gon' leave), nonstandard plural forms (the three mens, mans, or even mens) and multiple negatives (as in no one didn't leave me nothing) were occasional or common variants in these earlier dialects, and the latter item even the preferred variant in certain grammatical contexts.

I see two different nonstandard plurals: mens and mans. How is the third nonstandard plural supposed to be different from the first one? --Metropolitan90 (talk) 01:05, 25 March 2019 (UTC)

Good catch. A number of edits ago, this read "the three man, mans, or even mens"; presumably it was changed either accidentally or maliciously. I'm about to change it back. -- Hoary (talk) 06:14, 25 March 2019 (UTC)

A Commons file used on this page has been nominated for speedy deletion[edit]

The following Wikimedia Commons file used on this page has been nominated for speedy deletion:

You can see the reason for deletion at the file description page linked above. —Community Tech bot (talk) 05:06, 25 March 2019 (UTC)

Requested move 12 July 2019[edit]

The following is a closed discussion of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. Editors desiring to contest the closing decision should consider a move review after discussing it on the closer's talk page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

The result of the move request was: Withdrawn per WP:SNOW. (non-admin closure) В²C 17:36, 17 July 2019 (UTC)

African-American EnglishBlack English – Per WP:COMMONNAME, especially as used by linguist John McWhorter (who is black); see The Case for Black English. The word "African" is not anywhere in that New Yorker piece. African-American English, like Ebonics, is getting dated. --В²C 21:50, 12 July 2019 (UTC)


  • Oppose - The term doesn't appear to be getting dated; in Google Scholar, "african-american english" dialect within the last 10 years turns back thousands of results. In fact, two of the sources on the article itself, McDorman (2012) and Patrick (2007), use the term right in the title. "Black English" is indeed very common, but "African-American English" has the benefit of being more precise: "Black English" could refer to African Nova Scotian English, Black South African English, Jamaican English, etc. or African English varieties generally, whereas "African-American English" specifically only refers to dialects of black Americans. (Also, I don't think the noun label "African American" getting dated is the same as the adjective becoming so.) Wolfdog (talk) 23:17, 12 July 2019 (UTC)
    • Actually, I think "African-American" is getting dated as an adjective, not so much as a noun. References from 2007 and 2012 do not refute this point. And "Black English" is not commonly, if ever, used to refer to anything other than Black English in the U.S. It's certainly not used commonly enough to refer to any other English dialect for WP to address it. Consider Multicultural London English, for example. No mention of it being referred to as "black English", ever. --В²C 00:47, 13 July 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose. I'm really not certain which is the more common name, but the current title is best on WP:NATURALDISAMBIG grounds. Rreagan007 (talk) 00:08, 13 July 2019 (UTC)
    • See below for how solid the basis is for Black English being the common name; it's not even close. --В²C 00:47, 13 July 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose. Just a fad. Also, beware American centric bias. Many non American speak English and are black. It would have to be Black American English. —SmokeyJoe (talk) 10:20, 13 July 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose per WP:NATURALDISAMBIG. Multicultural London English is also (in a certain sense at least) Black English and it's very different to AAE. The same is true in the case of other dialects, such as Nigerian English. Kbb2 (ex. Mr KEBAB) (talk) 10:55, 13 July 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose. "Black English" is possibly a commoner name (though it's hard to say). It's indisputably a shorter one, though "AAE" (so abbreviated) can be used within the article and is still shorter. The term "African-American English" remains widely used among experts: see the Oxford Handbook, published in 2015. Moving to "Black English" would have no advantage that I can discern, and would likely give rise to misunderstandings (and calls for moving back, or moving elsewhere). -- Hoary (talk) 23:44, 13 July 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose & propose disambig. for Black English The term "Black English" can mean many different things to different people in different places and motivation and evidence given here doesn't reflect a world-wide view on Wiki regarding naming. As show in the "about" template at the top of the article in question, the term can easily be confused with the ethnic designation of black people (but originally any non-whites) from England, the term "Black British" being more common. Secondly mentions the variety of British English known as Multicultural London English, which is also often incorrectly referred to in the UK as talking "black", inferring a form of Black English. Thirdly is a list of Creole languages, most of the English-based ones being spoken by non-whites. As shown by these, there are various things the term could mean. Wiktionary's entry on "black" gives 35 definitions in English. These are (some combined):
to blacken, to apply shoe polish or lampblack, to boycott, being dark/swart.
lacking light, black dye or pigment, writing utensil containing black, black cloth hung up in funerals, A person of dark pigmentation of the skin such as African, Aborigine, or Maori descent, designation for the use of a person of the aforementioned (like black bus or black drinking fountain), a ball in cuesports, the edge of home plate in baseball, a type of firecracker, Blackcurrant syrup mixer (Guinness and black, etc), person playing with black pieces in board and card games, or the pieces themselves, something distinguished from the rest of something (black sheep, etc.), a stain or spot, a dark smut fungus, ..
absorbing all light, bad, evil, ill-omened, expressing menace/discontent, threatening, sullen, illegitimate, illegal, disgraced, overcrowded, obscure, foul, dirty, beverage lacking any cream, milk or creamer, a symbol or character that is solid, filled with colour (typography), related to the Christian Democratic Union of Germany, relating to an initiative whose existence or exact nature must remain withheld from the general public, a Protestant (often with the implication of being militantly pro-British or anti-Catholic) or British Unionist, designation a species that has one or more features which are black, having dark hair/armour/clothes
Many of these can apply to a variety of English, such as a slang term, a pejorative (racial and non-racial) or actual identification. Regarding common usage, Multicultural London English and Hiberno English are only referred to such by academics and amateur linguists, and being a speaker of both I've never heard any speaker of either of them refer to them as such, and while this primary evidence doesn't hold very well on Wiki, it makes a rather valid point that relying on what everyday people refer to themselves or their vernacular doesn't hold very well. If common usage held and this goes through, then I will propose moving Multicultural London English, aka British Black English, to Black English as such would be valid. In the mean time, I propose the move-to article be changed from a redirect to a disambiguation page reflecting these differences. UaMaol (talk) 22:43, 14 July 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose. There are black people who aren't African-American you know! The term is also used in the UK, for a start, where it's not referring to African-Americans. -- Necrothesp (talk) 15:01, 17 July 2019 (UTC)


Here is some data supporting "Black English" as the COMMONNAME:

  • Google search trends show Black English dominates, and has been increasing since 2004.
  • Google book ngrams are even more definitive: "African-American English" is virtually unused, with or without the dash. --В²C 00:47, 13 July 2019 (UTC)
Even if we were to assume that all or most instances of "Black English" are referentially identical to "African American English" (which is, indeed, an assumption we might want to challenge), neither of these address the disambiguating benefits of "African American English". — Ƶ§œš¹ [lɛts b̥iː pʰəˈlaɪˀt] 05:20, 13 July 2019 (UTC)
Disambiguate what from what? "Black English" is not commonly, if ever, used to refer to anything other than US Black English. It's certainly not used commonly enough to refer to any other English dialect for WP to address it. Consider Multicultural London English, for example. No mention of it being referred to as "black English" in that article. Even if there are some rare obscure uses of “Black English” to refer to something else, this use is clearly the primary topic and no disambiguation, natural or otherwise, is called for. --В²C 05:35, 13 July 2019 (UTC)
@Born2cycle: Laymen benefit from the current title - it's immediately obvious that the article is about a subvariety of American English, rather than any other variety of English associated (stereotypically or otherwise) with black people. Perhaps MOS:JARGON or something similar applies here? Kbb2 (ex. Mr KEBAB) (talk) 12:34, 13 July 2019 (UTC)
The article on MLE states: It is spoken authentically by the low classes, mainly young people in London, Speakers of MLE come from a wide variety of ethnic and cultural backgrounds, and live in diverse inner-city neighbourhoods... [and] it can be regarded as a multiethnolect. and In the press, MLE is sometimes referred to as "Jafaican", conveying the idea of "fake Jamaican", because of popular belief that it stems from immigrants of Jamaican and Caribbean descent. However, research suggests that the roots of MLE are much more complex." Two Economic and Social Research Council funded research projects found that MLE has most likely developed as a result of language contact and group second language acquisition. As shown here, these lack of "Black British" shows that the variety doesn't reflect common misconception, which whilst true in some sense considering the lexical influence from Carribean varieties, is incorrect regarding speakers.UaMaol (talk) 23:22, 14 July 2019 (UTC)

John McWhorter is an eminent linguist who specializes in this area and his choice of terms should be taken seriously. But The New Yorker is, I think, overwhelmingly read by you-ess-americans, and this is one reason why "American" can be elided from the title "The Case for Black English". I mean, for any nation -- which for convenience we'll call Freedonia, articles, even serious articles in carefully copyedited magazines, about this or that phenomenon, problem etc that's specific to Freedonia routinely skip the attribute "Freedonian". What's currently a top story at is an example: "A Father, a Daughter, and the Attempt to Change the Census": there's no need to point out that it's the US census, as the article is primarily for US readers, and those elsewhere will infer that it's about the US from the fact that the New Yorker, unlike Wikipedia, is written from a US PoV. ¶ Lisa Green's African American English: A Linguistic Introduction is, I think, excellent. Green too is a linguist who specializes in this area (and who is Black). Green currently refers to her subject as Black American English. ¶ Perhaps the single most comprehensive book on our subject, and one that's in a well respected series, is The Oxford Handbook of the African American Language. Its scope extends beyond AAE, but AA(V)E is its major subject. Its contents page shows the repeated appearance of AAE (and to a lesser extent AAVE) in article titles. "Black English" doesn't occur even once. And this book was published as recently as 2015. -- Hoary (talk) 09:38, 13 July 2019 (UTC)

Clearly some sources choose to avoid the term “Black English”. But should we? Are there any reliable sources that use “Black English” to refer to anything other that this topic? —В²C 13:54, 13 July 2019 (UTC)
Here are a couple:
Ƶ§œš¹ [lɛts b̥iː pʰəˈlaɪˀt] 17:17, 13 July 2019 (UTC)
And here are some more:
Wolfdog (talk) 20:52, 13 July 2019 (UTC)

The above discussion is preserved as an archive of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page or in a move review. No further edits should be made to this section.