AAVE Through the Ages

AAVE’s growth and expansion into modern times.

Unlike the origins of AAVE, a topic full of debates and unknowns, the spread and development of this dialect is easy to understand. Although there are two main theories of how AAVE came to be, the way in which it has spread is obvious to experts and users alike.

AAVE developed through slaves  in the United States. Whether by the combination of African language and standard English, or by the diversion from old English, AAVE became a distinct dialect of English. The movement of AAVE across the country followed that of Black folks in the US. The largest movement was the Great Migration when in the 1900s, millions of Black people moved to all corners of the country. With them, they took AAVE, where we can see that it still exists in those same communities today.

As AAVE has spread across the United States it has developed distinct regional differences as other languages and dialects have. AAVE in Baltimore differs from its counterparts in Los Angeles or New York, although the same rules still generally remain in place.

Today during the age of the internet, the spread of AAVE is much different than ever before. Internet slang or phrases spread quickly across social media, popular music, and other places on the internet. Many people do not attribute these words and style to AAVE. Unknown to many teenagers today, many speech patterns that are commonplace among younger generations are taken straight out of AAVE. Not to say that AAVE is not spoken among other groups of people, but many aspects of the dialect have made their way into conversations across American society.

AAVE is still a very misunderstood, or even unknown topic to many people. The lack of information about it has caused problems with communication, dating back throughout United States history.

Despite the fact that AAVE is easily proven to be just as comprehensive and complicated as standard English, the stigma and history of racism make it so that mainstream society views it in a negative manner. It is seen as less intelligent, which leads to a variety of issues throughout society. For example, it has been shown that bias against AAVE in legal settings, such as court, has an influence on the outcome of trials.

Because AAVE is generally not used in place of standard English in professional settings, many speakers of AAVE are forced to code-switch or switch between the two dialects in order to match the environment. This is both self-taught by many AAVE speakers to operate in certain environments such as school, work settings, or even with the police; But it is also reinforced by a white-dominated society that in many cases actively discourages the use of AAVE.

Modern issues with AAVE have to do with the bias and misunderstandings that can occur when it is used, despite the fact that its use and structure are no less valid than standard English.