Its usefulness lies in providing a single system of conventions to which all writers can adhere, a usefulness that should not be understated.
But it did not give birth to the world’s spoken dialects, nor is it in any way logically preferable to them.
From a linguistic point of view, dialects are siblings, not parents and children.
And while Standard English may be preferred by society, its siblings are no less worthy of their place in the family for it.
Were all varieties but Standard English to die out someday, we’d be left with only the least interesting, least well-rounded sibling, and our linguistic culture would suffer for it.
The many varieties of English that can be grouped under GAE largely adhere to the same grammatical and phonological conventions and share the same vocabulary.
GAE’s hegemony relies on a close correspondence to the conventions of Standard English, though the two systems are not identical.
Distinguishing between Standard English and General American English is vital, since referring to the two interchangeably assumes that all speakers both possess a high level of literacy and also follow written conventions when they speak.
In reality, very few people actually speak according to the rules of Standard English, rules that when followed in conversation can make the speaker seem stilted or pretentious.
Now, if the dialect you speak happens to be a prestige dialect (like GAE), you’ll find a high correspondence between your native speech patterns and the grammar of textbooks and the accents of national newscasters.
Among these many slighted siblings are regional dialects, socioeconomic dialects, ethnic dialects, and a whole panoply of other .
The dialect which this article will discuss in particular is one of the most widely spoken and least investigated in the United States: Black American Vernacular English (BAVE).
BAVE refers to the spoken English used in most Black American communities.
If you’ve ever lived in a community where people speak BAVE, then you’re already familiar with at least one version of this dialect.
Describing every variety of BAVE in use today could not be done in less than a few hundred pages, and I’m in no position to even try to do it.
has various meanings.(1) In speaking, an accent is an identifiable style of pronunciation.
Let’s get one thing straight from the start: whoever you are, wherever you are, you speak a dialect of English.
English does not and has never followed one set of rules, conventions, or vocabulary.
Historically, the English language did not even exist until the conventions which governed older languages had mixed and reordered enough so that people in Britain could no longer be understood by people in other communities.
Even in the earliest days of English, not everyone spoke the same version of the language; but what united all English dialects was that all English speakers could understand each other, although at times only with great difficulty.
This is the most basic definition of a language: a system of symbols that two or more people use to communicate.
So, it is because English speakers in New Zealand can communicate with English speakers in Texas that both are said to share a language.
Although both dialects have developed independently, they can be grouped on equal footing into a single category.
Just as Vulgar Latin gave rise to the Romance languages spoken today, so too did Early Modern English give rise to the many dialects of English now spoken throughout the world.
The conception that any particular dialect is a of another is a myth which rests on thinking that most people would not accept if it were universally applied.
Instead, what I will focus on here are some common features that distinguish BAVE from other dialects of American English.
As a counterpoint to BAVE, I will discuss General American English, which is a dialect of spoken English which nearly all Americans have some experience with—at least those who own televisions.
General American English (GAE) is the category used by linguists to describe (roughly) the varieties of spoken English used by White Americans not living in the Northeast or Southeast.
GAE is the spoken language of government, education, and media in the United States.
The category is vague, mostly used as a shorthand, but is nonetheless useful.
After all, we would never say that Portuguese is a subcategory of Spanish (or vice versa); yet many people consider vernacular dialects to be deviant versions of some perfect English.
This perfect, mythical form goes by an appropriately imposing name: Standard English.
Standard English towers above all other dialects, a monolithic written system which school children worldwide are instructed in as though its conventions had descended from the sky by chariot.
The term refers to the set of grammatical rules and conventions used by professional and academic writers in the English-speaking world’s elite institutions.