ILC N464

Lisa Green holds a PhD in Linguistics from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She returned to UMass after eleven years in the Department of Linguistics at the University of Texas at Austin. Green is the founding director of the Center for the Study of African American Language at UMass Amherst. Its goal is to foster and integrate research on language in the African American community and applications of that research in educational, social, and cultural realms. The Center will serve as a resource for communities across the country, with a commitment to furnishing information and training to educators who address language- and dialect-related issues. In Fall 2009, Green was an Old Dominion Fellow in Linguistics at Princeton University.

Green’s research investigates variation within and across varieties of English, with a focus on African American English (AAE). In moving away from the traditional approach of studying isolated features of AAE that differ maximally from constructions in the standard and mainstream varieties of English, she considers systems in the AAE grammar, such as the systems of tense/aspect marking and negation. Green’s work also explores the link between discourse and structural positions of elements in the left periphery. Her work on child AAE addresses questions about optionality and variation in language development.

In her undergraduate teaching and workshops on dialects, Green considers ways of integrating linguistic description and practical application and conveying such strategies to diverse audiences.  


  • Syntax
  • Syntactic variation
  • African American English syntax and semantics
  • Acquisition and language development



African American English: A Linguistic Introduction. Cambridge University Press. 2002.

Language and the African American Child. Cambridge University Press. 2011.

African American English Through the Years: Getting at the Core of Grammar. Cambridge University Press.  In preparation.

Selected Papers

“Third singular –s and Event Marking in African American English.” Linguistic Variation Yearbook. (with Brandi Newkirk). 2016.

“Syntax and Semantics.” In Oxford Handbook of African American Language. Sonja Lanehart (ed.). Oxford University Press. 2015. (with Walter Sistrunk)

“Force, Focus, and Negation in African American English. In Micro-syntactic Variation in North American English. Raffaella Zanuttini and Laurence R. Horn (eds.). Oxford University Press. 2014. 

"The Linguistic Analysis of African American English."  Annual Review of Linguistics.  In preparation.