Language and the African American Child

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How do children acquire African American English? How do they develop the specific language patterns of their communities? Drawing on spontaneous speech samples and data from structured elicitation tasks, this book explains the developmental trends in the children's language. It examines topics such as the development of tense/aspect marking, negation and question formation, and addresses the link between intonational patterns and meaning. Lisa Green shows the impact that community input has on children's development of variation in the production of certain constructions such as possessive –s, third person singular verbal –s, and forms of copula and auxiliary be. She discusses the implications that the linguistic description has for practical applications, such as developing instructional materials for children in the early stages of their education.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
'With a touch of genius, Green elucidates the intricate grammatical tapestry behind ordinary conversations … the result is a linguistic tour de force.' Tom Roeper, University of Massachusetts

'A distinguished scholar provides a landmark description of how children learn, use, and apply their intricate knowledge of African American language in the home, school, and everyday world.' Walt Wolfram, Director, North Carolina Language and Life Project

'… a watershed contribution to the study of African American English as spoken by preschoolers.' Ida J. Stockman, Professor Emerita, Michigan State University

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521853095
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 1/31/2011
  • Pages: 284
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Lisa Green is Associate Professor of Linguistics and the founding director of the Center for the Study of African American Language at the University of Massachusetts. Her previous publications include African American English: A Linguistic Introduction (Cambridge University Press, 2002).

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Table of Contents

1. Child AAE: an introductory overview of the data and context; 2. Characterizing AAE: feature lists, dual components, patterns and systems; 3. System of tense-aspect marking 1: non-past and habitual; 4. System of tense-aspect marking 2: past time; 5. Negation: focus on negative concord; 6. Asking questions: seeking clarification and requesting elaboration; 7. Variation: intra-dialectal/variable-shifting and inter-dialectal/code-shifting; 8. The D.I.R.E.C.T. model: linking linguistic description and education.

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