Teaching: updating AAVE?

Mai Kuha mkuha at BSUVC.BSU.EDU
Mon Sep 17 15:03:05 UTC 2001

Is anyone interested in sharing ideas about updating our approaches to
the verbal system of African American (Vernacular) English in introductory
linguistics courses?

I'm looking at my copies of handouts from the talks Lisa Green and Charles
DeBose gave at the symposium on recent advances in research in this area
at the 2001 LSA meeting. (I'm missing some handouts from other relevant
talks from that symposium.) I would like to move towards this approach of
viewing AAVE as a system, rather than focusing on specific features that
distinguish it from other varieties. For one thing, this approach should
make it clearer that studying AAVE isn't about "correcting errors". Here
are the questions I have so far:

- How much information would it make sense to include in a, say, week-long
unit in an introductory course? Would all of Lisa Green's impressively
massive-looking outline of verbal paradigms be too overwhelming?

- Would including technical terminology ("the tense-mood aspect markers
gon', finta, done, been, and be, do not assign theta-roles" (DeBose), or
Green's "remote past perfect resultant state") instill respect for the
complexity of AAVE, or would it just be incomprehensible?

- I'm having trouble finding additional examples of the various verb forms
(is there an obvious resource that I'm missing?) and, when I do find
examples, I'm not confident that I can match one author's example to a
structure in another author's paradigm, especially since different
varieties of AAVE might be represented.

Any feedback on these questions, or the issue in general?

Thanks in advance. If you get this message more than once, I apologize for
the inconvenience.

Mai Kuha                mkuha at bsuvc.bsu.edu
Department of English   (765) 285-8410
Ball State University

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