Urban African American Vernacular English

Urban varieties of African American Vernacular English (AAVE) are spoken by more than 30 million working-class African Americans throughout North America, with heavy concentrations of speakers in metropolitan areas such as New York, Philadelphia, Washington, DC, Chicago, Detroit, Houston, and Los Angeles. These cities account for well over half of urban AAVE speakers. Many of these residents migrated from rural areas of the South during the Great Migration from 1910 through 1930, and some of these urban African American communities remain among the most de facto segregated regions in the United States. In these segregated urban contexts, many of the contemporary features of AAVE were developed or intensified during the twentieth century, setting these varieties further apart from cohort, working-class white metropolitan communities. In Northern urban areas, AAVE is less likely to show accommodation to regional dialects than in the South. In more recent decades, a trend of Southern back-migration has taken place, in which cities of the Southern United States such as Atlanta, Charlotte, and Memphis have become prominent contemporary sites for the use of urban AAVE. In some respects, the distinction between urban and rural AAVE overshadows straightforward regional dialects in marking varieties of AAVE.

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