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African American Vernacular English in Life Narratives

African American vernacular English (AAVE), also known as Black English vernacular (BEV) and Ebonics, is a dialect familiar to the majority of African Americans. In one sentence, speakers sometimes move back and forth from the Standard English to AAVE. This entry describes life narrative research conducted over several years by the author, an African American woman and a linguistic anthropologist, who collected life stories from African American women in three states. She found that when code-switching (e.g., shifting from Standard English to AAVE) takes place in settings with people from the same ethnic background, the person switching often indicates that the switches show solidarity with the other individual in the conversation. Moreover, some people narrating their life stories indicated that certain ideas expressed in ...

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