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.