Tag Archives: African American Vernacular English (AAVE)

Iggy Azalea and Ethnolect Appropriation

A few years back, I was talking to an Irish musician about the American blues. I found it strange that British and Irish musicians, particularly those honing their chops in the 1960s, seemed more taken with the form than Americans. “Well,” the … Continue reading


Posted in American English | Tagged , , , | 15 Comments

Regionally “Corrupted” Names

Rebecca Skloot’s The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks details the real life of a poor woman from rural Virginia whose cancer cells became an important tool for medical innovation. The titular woman hailed from a tiny, impoverished Southern town, which prompts … Continue reading


Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 26 Comments

What Rhymes Tell Us About Changing English

One of the incidental pleasures of reading Shakespeare’s sonnets is finding rhymes that give us clues about Elizabethan English. One of these occurs in the first four lines of the entire collection: From fairest creatures we desire increase, That thereby … Continue reading


Posted in English Phonetics | Tagged | 16 Comments


A reader recently wrote me a question concerning the word “goombye,” which appears in this up-tempo Ivie Anderson song (penned by Duke Ellington) from 1939: At first glance, I figured “goombye” might be an awkward attempt to transcribe African-American English … Continue reading


Posted in American English | Tagged , | 8 Comments

Regional African-American Accents

Annie Minoff has written a fascinating, in-depth piece on African American English over at WBEZ in Chicago. It’s worth reading in its entirety, but the main thrust of the article is that within African-American English one can find numerous regional … Continue reading


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Race and “Voice Quality:” A Skeptic’s Viewpoint

During an unrelated Google search the other day, I stumbled upon this Yahoo Answers query: Can you tell someone’s race from the sound of their voice? I was wondering if you could tell if someone was white or black etc by hearing … Continue reading


Posted in Miscellaneous Accents and Dialects | Tagged , | 34 Comments

“You is Smart:” Dialect Gripes About “The Help”

The other day, a Twitter pal mentioned a certain discomfort while reading Kathryn Stockett’s The Help. Apropos of this blog, it seems there are a number of complaints about the author’s (arguably) shaky command of African American Vernacular English, a … Continue reading


Posted in American English | Tagged , , , | 10 Comments

Singing in Dialect, Part 2: When Brits Go GenAm

Like many young urbanites in the 2000s, I was obsessed with Joy Division. I’m not sure why this two-decades defunct* band from Manchester touched a nerve, but touch a nerve it did. Yet I always found it perplexing the way … Continue reading


Posted in British English | Tagged , , , | 25 Comments

Right Thurr

A few years back, the rapper Chingy had a hit track entitled Right Thurr. The chorus goes something like this (forgive the awkward transcription): I like the way you do that right thurr, Switch your hips when you’re walkin’, let down your … Continue reading


Posted in American English | Tagged , | 20 Comments

A New (Rhotic?) Dialect in New Zealand?

Needless to say, I was quite intrigued by this recent article at Stuff.co.nz about a new urban dialect spoken in South Auckland, New Zealand.  A unique type of youthful, urban speech has emerged, not dissimilar to Multicultural British English in terms of … Continue reading


Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 24 Comments