Joe scripsit:

> Does AAVE really exist as a unitary dialect?  I mean, I would expect it
> shows a large degree of geographical variation, perhaps larger than
> 'higher' register dialects.  I don't know anything about the subject,
> but can such characteristics really be generalised like that?

Well, what does "exist" mean?  We all speak different idiolects that
are more or less similar to people who are more or less similar to us
in a large variety of ways, of which geography is only one.  You can
find Yiddish-influenced English in and around New York City and in and
around Los Angeles, but the 3000 miles / 4800 km between the two cities
shows very little of it, for the good reason that there are not many
Jews elsewhere in the U.S.

AAVE certainly does show some regional differentiation, though not as
much as non-AAVE American English dialects (which in turn are nowhere
near as differentiated as those in Britain).  Looking at syntax, though,
we can set up a divide between creole-influenced English (including
AAVE) and English that isn't influenced by creole, and that makes
the differences between the U.S. and the U.K. look small.  "Ain't" in
non-creolish dialects is a replacement for "am not", "is not", "are not",
"have not", or "has not".  In basilectal AAVE, it's a negative-perfective marker.

You are a child of the universe no less         John Cowan
than the trees and all other acyclic  
graphs; you have a right to be here.  
  --DeXiderata by Sean McGrath                  [log in to unmask]