Ask-A-Linguist Message Details
Is Transformational Generative Grammar by Noam Chomsky
applicable to AAVE (African American Vernacular English? I want to
make a thesis for my Bachelor degree. The research question is:
What is the difference between standard English and Ebonics
using Transformational Generative Grammar?
I heard that TGG cannot be applied in vernacular language or dialect.
Thank you if you are willing to answer this.
First, most modern theoretical linguistics frameworks are meant to be applied to any
spoken form including AAVE and even sign language.
There are many differences between AAVE and standard English. You may want to look
at the work by Lisa Green (a native speaker who went on to earn a linguistics degree)
who has done a full analysis of her dialect of AAVE in the book "African American
English". Another book, also called "African American English" co-edited by Mufweme,
Rickford , Bailey and Baugh is a good introduction.
The challenge for working with a non-standard dialect like AAVE is that there are some
of local variation. If you are familiar with AAVE from a different region, you may find
some minor differences. The other challenge is to find authentic examples from
speakers (not from TV or someone imitating AAVE).
AAVE is rarely written in full, even in blogs, and native speakers may be unwilling to
speak colloquially in front of an academic researcher. Not surprisingly, the best
research has been written by AAVE speakers.
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