Featured Linguist!

Jost Gippert: Our Featured Linguist!

"Buenos dias", "buenas noches" -- this was the first words in a foreign language I heard in my life, as a three-year old boy growing up in developing post-war Western Germany, where the first gastarbeiters had arrived from Spain. Fascinated by the strange sounds, I tried to get to know some more languages, the only opportunity being TV courses of English and French -- there was no foreign language education for pre-teen school children in Germany yet in those days. Read more

Donate Now | Visit the Fund Drive Homepage

Amount Raised:


Still Needed:


Can anyone overtake Syntax in the Subfield Challenge ?

Grad School Challenge Leader: University of Washington

Publishing Partner: Cambridge University Press CUP Extra Publisher Login
amazon logo
More Info

New from Oxford University Press!


What is English? And Why Should We Care?

By: Tim William Machan

To find some answers Tim Machan explores the language's present and past, and looks ahead to its futures among the one and a half billion people who speak it. His search is fascinating and important, for definitions of English have influenced education and law in many countries and helped shape the identities of those who live in them.

New from Cambridge University Press!


Medical Writing in Early Modern English

Edited by Irma Taavitsainen and Paivi Pahta

This volume provides a new perspective on the evolution of the special language of medicine, based on the electronic corpus of Early Modern English Medical Texts, containing over two million words of medical writing from 1500 to 1700.

Summary Details

Query:   Summary-AAE & lg acquisition
Author:  C Rafal
Submitter Email:  click here to access email
Linguistic LingField(s):   Language Acquisition

Summary:   Hello to all,

A few weeks ago I posted an inquiry to the following effect: could
readers recommend research on language acquisition by children who are
coming up with African American English as their first language. From
the context of writing a licensure test for beginning teachers, I was
asking more specifically whether an item showing a child who used to
say "went" and now said "goed" made sense in general, as well as
whether it would be relevant for African American children.

I have received several thoughtful and helpful replies. I would like
to thank everyone who replied, listed in no particular order: Joel
Boyd, Christen M. Pearson, Lisa J. Greeen, Terry Potter, Laura
Wagner, Lynn Santelmann, Suzanne Kemmer (with attachment from Liz
Bates), Vern Lindblad, and Maaike Verrips. I have a feeling I have
forgotten someone, always a danger of listing. If so, my sincere

Research and references:

Currently at in the Department of Communications Disorders at University of
Massachusetts, Amherst, Harry Seymour (hseymour@comdis.umass.edu) and Tom
Roeper (roeper@linguist.umass.edu) are working on issues related to the
acquisition of African American English. The ultimate goal of the project
is to develop diagnostics of language impairment that are sensitive to the
different languages children may be acquiring (e.g., SAE or AAE).

Wyatt, T. (1995). Language development in African-American English child
speech. Linguistics and Education, 7(1), 7-22.

Things written by Shirley Brice Heath aimed at educators

Dr. William Labov

Bill Bryson's book, "The Mother Tongue: English and how it got that way"
talks a little about second language acquisition in the second chapter

Alan G. Kamhi, Karen E. Pollock, & Joyce L. Harris (1996). Communication
Development and Disorders in African American Children: Research,
Assessment, and Intervention. Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes.

Web sites:
http://www-leland.stanford.edu/~rickford/ebonics/ (Here I cannot resist
saying this is a very good site, by an eminent and to me, dear,
professor whom I was lucky enough to have as my undergrad advisor. I
hope he is not embarrassed by the nave level of my query; what a
decade, a career change and other factors do to one's former
"expertise!" Not to mention how a field changes in that length of

On specific points:
A couple respondents ventured that the development
or acquisition of the past tense did not differ significantly between
SE and AAE.

There was however some disagreement on whether saying "goed" for a
short time when one used to say "went" would really happen or
why. Some respondents provided anecdotal evidence of young
acquaintances who did do this. However, it seems that we would want to
avoid implying that "goed" actually replaced "went"; Liz Bates says
that these always co-exist, and 50% overgeneralization is the highest
observed. She said most children will use it only about 10% to 17% of
the time. She offered a different kind of anecdote: a child who never
started with the rote irregular form.

A few people offered explanations of these "errors" as children
hypothesizing about rules. Liz Bates suggested that there it may not
just be a question of "rote" vs. "rules" but that analogy may be at
work here, too. These differences seem to reflect the use of
different models of grammar whether as rule-based and algorithmic or
as schema-based and analogical.

This information has not only been helpful and thought provoking but
provided an enjoyable and refreshing foray back into that first
intellectual love of linguistics. Thank you all very much.

Christine T. Rafal
Research Associate
Education Development Center
Newton, MA

LL Issue: 9.1539
Date Posted: 03-Nov-1998
Original Query: Read original query


Sums main page