Variation in AAVE

From the American Dialect Society meeting just concluded in Portland OR, this abstract from Taylor Jones (a grad student at Penn) reporting on some ingenious research he conducted with collaborator Christopher Hall:

‘Yeen kno nun bou dat’:  Using Twitter to map AAVE dialect regions

Recent research has established AAVE isn’t monolithic. However, AAVE variation hasn’t been systematically described and mapped. Here, we use new computational methods, using social media, to describe AAVE variation and to show AAVE dialect regions distinct from — and perpendicular to — other dialects of North American English. This study maps the geographic patterns of 30+ common nonstandard spellings on Twitter (e.g. sholl for “sure”). We show nonstandard AAVE orthography delineates clear dialect regions, with shared phonological and lexical features. These regions are not coterminous with traditional North American dialect regions; rather, they align with patterns of movement during the Great Migration.

On the Great Migration, from Wikipedia:

The Great Migration was the movement of 6 million African Americans out of the rural Southern United States to the urban Northeast, Midwest, and West that occurred between 1910 and 1970. Some historians differentiate between the first Great Migration (1910–1930), numbering about 1.6 million migrants who left mostly rural areas to migrate to northern industrial cities; and, after a lull during the Great Depression, a Second Great Migration (1940–1970), in which 5 million or more people moved from the South, including many to California and other western states.

Jones and Hall will give a version of the ADS paper at Stanford today, but I won’t be able to attend.

Amended later in the day: Here’s an expanded version of the abstract: with maps!

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