The research on African American language to be carried out in the context of the Center contributes to the scientific understanding of the structure of African American English (AAE) and differences and similarities between AAE and other varieties of English. The research also addresses issues related to early language contact situations between Africans in America and speakers of English and other settler languages that may have had some influence on the development of AAE. Given the plantation system in early America, topics related to the study of properties in Creoles and African languages that may also be reflected in AAE are also in the scope of Center research. The Center also promotes interdisciplinary research on African American language in a broad range of contexts, such as language and culture and the use of language in literature and the media. Center conferences, topical workshops, and colloquia bring together scholars who conduct research in these areas.

Areas of research:

  • the linguistic system of AAE from the perspective of modern theoretical linguistics
  • the acquisition of AAE by children
  • language use by AAE-speaking school-age children
  • language-related issues with implications for practical application (e.g., reading, writing, speech pathology)
  • language-related issues with implications for society (e.g., language variation, linguistic profiling, popular culture)
  • early texts and recordings (e.g., ex-slave narratives, ex-slave recordings, voodoo documents, prison work songs, documentaries and films, literature)
  • historical origins of African American language varieties