ERIC Number: ED197581
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1979
A Re-examination of the Black English Copula. Working Papers in Sociolinguistics, No. 66.
A corpus of Black English (BEV) data is re-examined with exclusive attention to the "is" form of the copula. This analysis differs from previous examinations in that more constraints have been introduced, and the Cedergren/Sankoff computer program for multivariant analysis has been employed. The analytic techniques that are used allow for a finer gradation of factors than is found in previous BEV copula research. This research has shown that NPs with determiners strongly favor both contraction and deletion rules, while NPs without determiners show no measurable impact on either rule. It is further demonstrated that, in the case of determiners, the variation must be attributed to grammatical forces. The adjective and locative categories, which were previously analyzed as a single constraint, are also separated and examined individually. Structural parallels to Jamaican Creole English emerged, lending strong support to Fasold's recent stages for the development of present tense "be" deletion in Black English, as well as reinforcing the Creole origin hypothesis. Finally, this analysis further substantiates the diachronic potential of the Cedergren/Sankoff program and demonstrates that variable rules can effectively identify cases of linguistic stability. (Author/AMH)
Descriptors: Black Dialects, Dialect Studies, Language Usage, Language Variation, Sentence Structure, Sociocultural Patterns, Sociolinguistics, Verbs
Southwest Educational Development Laboratory, 211 East 7th Street, Austin, TX 78701.
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: National Inst. of Education (DHEW), Washington, DC.; National Science Foundation, Washington, DC.
Authoring Institution: Southwest Educational Development Lab., Austin, TX.
Note: Revised version of a paper presented at the Winter Meeting of the Linguistic Society of America (Philadelphia, PA, 1976).