"...at the hands of Americans": The American (English) Language

The English that was brought to America in seventeenth century was, of course, the language--or versions of the language--of Early Modern England. The year of the Captain John Smith's founding of Jamestown (1607) coincides roughly with Shakespeare's writing of Timon of Athens and Pericles, and the King James Bible (the "Authorized Version") was published only four years later, in 1611.

It was not long before writers on both sides of the Atlantic began to acknowledge the language's divergence. As early as the mid-seventeenth century, Samuel Johnson, in a review of Lewis Evans's "Geographical, Historical, Political, Philosophical, and Mechanical Essays," pays the [American] writer's language a backhanded compliment:

This treatise is written with such elegance as the subject admits, tho' not without some mixture of the American dialect, a tract ["trace"] of corruption to which every language widely diffused must always be exposed. (In the World, No. 102, Dec. 12, 1754; quoted by Mencken 4)

Johnson's assessment was mild compared to that of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who asserted in 1822 that "the Americans presented the extraordinary anomaly of a people without a language. That they had mistaken the English language for baggage (which is called plunder in America), and had stolen it" (quoted in Mencken 28).

Noah Webster attributed some of the marked features of New England speech to a conservatism engendered by the relative isolation, vis à vis the rest of the world, of the colonists, stating that New Englanders (of which he was one):

have been sequestered in some measure from the world, and their language has not suffered material changes from their first settlement to the present time. Hence most of the phrases used by Shakespear, Congreve, and other writers who have described English manners and recorded the language of all classes of people, are still heard in the common discourse of the New England yeomanry. (Dissertation on the English Language 384-85, quoted in Dillard 32-3)

Three stages of settlement and influence can be discerned:

  1. Beginning with the English settlement of Jamestown in 1607 and the landing of the Puritans in Massachusetts in 1620 (though the Pilgrims encountered Native Americans who were already speaking a pidgin English: Dillard 9ff.), the English language is established in America (along with Dutch, German, French, and other tongues).

  2. The American Revolution creates a separate political identity, and along with it an expressed desire for a distinct linguistic identity. The Louisiana Purchase and the consequent expansion westward, accelerated by the discovery of gold in California contribute to linguistic intermingling and dialect leveling in the West.

  3. The period of European immigration to the U. S. after the Civil War marks the next stage of large-scale linguistic infusions. Since the vast majority of these immigrants settled in the North, that is arguably the region where the greatest linguistic impact of immigration was also felt (see Carver 96-7).

An issue that transcends periodization is the language that results from the forced immigration of slaves from Africa: Black Vernacular English/African-American English/Ebonics.

More Recent influences

Since the mid-twentieth century, large numbers of Spanish-speaking immigrants have come to the U.S. from Mexico, Latin America, Puerto Rico, and Cuba, many settling in the formerly Spanish-speaking states of California, New Mexico, parts of Texas, and Arizona. Since the 1960s and the War in Vietnam, large numbers of Indo-Chinese immigrants have arrived, especially in the Pacific Coast states. One consequence of recent immigration, especially where Spanish-speakers are nearing majority status, is the passage of "English Only" or "Official English" laws. At present (1999), twenty-two states have adopted such laws and three others have Official English laws of somewhat different status: Louisiana has required records to be kept in English since 1811; Hawaii has English and Hawaiian established as official languages; and English was accorded official status by the Supreme Court in Massachusetts.

Early American English

The greatest linguistic influence results from first period of immigration and the establishment of the settlements of the original thirteen colonies:
  • Northern
    • New England was first settled by English speakers between 1620-1640. After the Puritans settle the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1620, a second settlement center is established in 1635 in the Lower Connecticut River Valley (on the western side of the river). Even today, the Connecticut River is an important regional dialect boundary, separating the r-less dialect of Boston from the more r-ful dialects in western New England. Religious dissenters from the Massachusetts Bay Colony found the Rhode Island Colony in 1638, and the Narragansett Bay area forms another distinctive dialect subregion.
    • The Mid-Atlantic States: New York was first settled by the Dutch in 1614, but the colony was seized by the British in 1664, when fewer than 10,000 Dutch settlers were living there; Pennsylvania was settled by a mix of English, Welsh, Scots-Irish, and Germans (the Pennsylvania "Dutch"). From Philadelphia, Scots-Irish immigrants spread westward, settling extensively in the Appalachians.
  • Southern
    • Virginia was the first area to be settled in the South Atlantic States. The region attracted a variety of social outcasts of one kind or another: criminals, royalists, indentured servants, and Puritans from England; religious and political refugees from France (Huguenots/Calvinists); and inland, Scots-Irish, and Germans. One kind of argument for the distinctive character of Southern speech, then, is that it was peopled by inhabitants from the "fringes" of the British insular domain, and thus, perhaps, those with less standardized pronunciations and usages. Black English is increasingly regarded as another influence on the development of Southern speech (see especially Dillard's chapter on "The Development of Southern").

    The language variations that develop from these broad early influences will be examined in more detail below.

Linguistic Nationalism

As perception of the country as a nation separate from England grew, so too did perception of language differences. In January 1774, and anonymous writer (possibly John Adams) issued a proposal in the Royal American Magazine for a national academy:
The English language has been greatly improved in Britain within a century, but its highest perfection, with every other branch of human knowledge, is perhaps reserved for this land of light and freedom. As the people through this extensive country will speak English, their advantages for polishing their language will be great, and vastly superior to what the people of England ever enjoyed.

I beg leave to propose a plan for perfecting the English language in America, thro' every future period of its existence; viz. That a society for this purpose should be formed, consisting of members in each university and seminary, who shall be stiled Fellows of the American Society of Language: That the society, when established, from time to time elect new members & thereby be made perpetual. And that the society annually publish some observations upon the language and from year to year, correct, enrich and refine it, until perfection stops their progress and ends their labour.

I conceive that such a society might easily be established, and that great advantages would thereby accrue to science, and consequently American would make swifter advances to the summit of learning. It is perhaps impossible for us to form an idea of the perfection, the beauty, the grandeur, & sublimity, to which our language may arrive in the progress of time, passing through the improving tongues of our rising prosperity; whose aspiring minds, fired by our example, and arbour [sic] for glory, may surpass all the sons of science who have shone in past ages, & may light of the world with new ideas bright as the sun. (British Museum, Colonial Office Records, Class 5, Volume 938 [1772-74], p. 186; quoted in Mathews 40-41)

A few years later (September 5, 1780), John Adams wrote to the president of Congress from Amsterdam proposing that Congress establish an "American Academy for correcting, improving and ascertaining the English language":

Most of the nations of Europe have thought it necessary to establish by public authority institutions for fixing and improving their proper languages. I need not mention the academies in France, Spain, and Italy, their learned labors, nor their great success. But it is very remarkable, that although many learned and ingenious men in England have from age to age projected similar institutions for correcting and improving the English tongue, yet the government have never found time to interpose in any manner; so that this day there is no grammar nor dictionary extant of the English language which has the least public authority; and it is only very lately, that a tolerable dictionary has been published, even by a private person, and there is not yet a passable grammar enterprised by any individual.

The honor of forming the first public institution for refining, correcting, improving, and ascertaining the English language, I hope is reserved for congress; they have every motive that can possibly influence a public assembly to undertake it. It will have a happy effect upon the union of the States to have a public standard for all persons in every part of the continent to appeal to, both for the signification and pronunciation of the language. The constitutions of all the States in the Union are so democratical that eloquence will become the instrument for recommending men to their fellow-citizens, and the principal means of advancement through the ranks and offices of society.

In the last century Latin,[sic] was the universal language of Europe. Correspondence among the learned, and indeed among merchants and men of business, and the conversation of strangers and travellers, was generally carried on in that dead language. In the present century, Latin has been generally laid aside, and French has been substituted in its place, but has not yet become universally established, and, according to present appearances, it is not probable that it will. English is destined to be in the next and succeeding centuries more generally the language of the world than Latin was in the last or French is in the present age. The reason of this is obvious, because the increasing population in America, and their universal connection and correspondence with all nations will, aided by the influence of England and the world, whether great or small, force their language into general use, in spite of all the obstacles that may be thrown in their way, if any such there should be. (The Words of John Adams, Second President of the United States....by His Grandson, Charles Francis Adams (Boston, 1852), 7: 249ff.; quoted in Mathews 7-8)


An early factor in the evolution of American English was the need to name unfamiliar features of the landscape, flora, and fauna of the New World. One source for such words was the rich, but often difficult (for English speakers) vocabulary of the Native Americans. Captain John Smith, in trying to transcribe the Algonquian word meaning "he scratches with his hands"--arakun-- wrote rahougcum (1608). This is the source of our now-familiar word, raccoon. Other words derived from Native American languages include: caucus (possibly from Algonkin cau'-cau-as'u, used by Captain John Smith, who spelled it "Caw-cawaassough"), hickory (< pohickery), hominy, moccasin, moose, muskrat (< muskwessu), opossum, papoose, pecan, persimmon, pone, powwow, skunk, squash (< asquutasquash), squaw, succotash (from Narragansett msiquatash), terrapin, toboggan, tomahawk, totem, wigwam, and woodchuck (< otchek).

Earlier Spanish and Portuguese explorers, encountering Native Americans in the West Indies, Mexico, and Central and South American, had provided forms that became the English words barbecue (<Arawak barbacoa, "a raised platform of sticks"), cannibal, canoe (<Arawak canoa), chocolate (<Nahuatl chocolátl), maize (<Arawak marisi), potato, tomato (<Nahuatl tomatl), and savannah. Although it enters the language somewhat later (ca. 1825), the word coyote also derives from the Nahuatl word coyotl (via Spanish).

The word "Amercanism" has been in use since after the Revolution to refer disparagingly to words or usages of supposed American origin. John Witherspoon, first president of Princeton University (then known as the College of New Jersey), claims the credit for coining the term and details its signification:

...Americanisms, by which I understand an use of the phrases or terms, or a construction of sentences, even among persons of rank and education, different from the use of the same terms or phrases, or the construction of similar sentences in Great-Britain. It does not follow, from a man's using these, that he is ignorant, or his discourse upon the whole inelegant; nay, it does not follow in every case, that the terms or phrases used are worse in themselves, but merely that they are of American and not of English growth. The word Americanism, which I have coined for the purpose, is exactly similar in its formation and signification to the word Scotticism. By the word Scotticism is understood any term or phrase, and indeed any thing either in construction, pronunciation or accentuation, that is peculiar to North-Britain. There are many instances in which the Scotch way is as good, and some in which every person who has the least taste as to the propriety or purity of a language in general, must confess that it is better than that of England, yet speakers and writers must conform to custom. ( "The Druid," no. 5, May 9, 1781; reprinted in Mathews 17)

Among the usages identified by Witherspoon as "Americanisms" are the use of either to refer to "one or the other of two"; notify to mean "inform"; fellow countrymen, which he regarded as a redundancy; mad, as "a metaphor for angry." Thomas Jefferson was taken to task ("belittled") by the European Magazine and London Review in 1787 for his coinage and use of the verb to belittle in his "Notes on the State of Viriginia":

Belittle! What an expression! It may be an elegant one in Virginia, and even perfectly intelligible; but for our part, all we can do is to guess at its meaning. For shame, Mr. Jefferson! Why, after trampling upon the honour or our country, and representing it as little better than a land of barbarism--why, we say, perpetually trample also upon the very grammar of our language, and make that appear as Gothic as, from your description, our manners are rude?--Freely, good sir, will we forgive all your attacks, impotent as they are illiberal, upon our national character; but for the future spare--O spare, we beseech you, our mother-tongue! (Quoted in Mencken 14)

A humorous view of the current divide between British and American usages is provided at the Web site "Britspeak."

English Grammar in the New World: Usage Debates and Dictionary Wars

Lindley Murray (1745-1826), an American expatriate living in England, all but cornered the market during first quarter of eighteenth century with his English Grammar, Adapted to the Different Classes of Learners. Published in York in 1795, Murray's grammar was first printed in America in Boston in 1800 and went through more than 100 editions, selling more than 2 million copies. Murray had attended Franklin's Academy as a boy in Philadelphia. In adulthood, he became ill and was forced to give up his lucrative law practice. He emigrated to England where with a small fortune he began a forty-year convalescence, during which he tutored the headmistress of a nearby school in grammar and was persuaded to write a grammar. Murray's work borrowed from Priestly's grammar, Campbell's rhetoric, and Lowth's grammar (sometimes copying Lowth verbatim) and relied heavily on teaching by showing incorrect examples (false syntax).

Noah Webster (1758-1843) was descended from John Webster, governor of Connecticut, and William Bradford, governor of the Plymouth Colony. After he graduated from Yale in 1778, he studied law and, though admitted to the bar, failed to attract a sufficient clientele. Thus he abandoned the law and entered a more lucrative occupation, as a school teacher! Dissatisfied with available textbooks, he produced his own speller, grammar, and reader, published in 1783, 1784, and 1785 as A Grammatical Institute of the English Language. The speller, The American Spelling Book sold more than 80 million copies in 100 years, providing Webster with sufficient income to turn his attention entirely to linguistic concerns. (Perhaps not surprisingly, Webster was a fierce advocate of copyright legislation.) Webster's rhetoric is generally that of a descriptivist, one who bases his claims on observations of usage rather than on the analogy of the grammatical structures of Latin, though at points in his career he did succumb, if only temporarily, to the siren song of prescription. Finegan tells the story of Webster's changing views on who/whom:

Webster's growing familiarity with educated practice modified his views. He had condemned the use of who in Who did you marry? when writing the Grammatical Institute (1784), but accepted it in the 1789 Dissertations. In a passage that simultaneously illustrates the alteration of his views and underscores his disdain for grammarians too much influenced by Latin, he wrote that Whom do you speak to? was "never used in speaking, as I can find, and if so, it is hardly English at all." He thought only who had been used in asking questions "until some Latin student began to suspect it bad English, because not agreeable to the Latin rules. At any rate, whom do you speak to? is a corruption, and all the grammars that can be formed will not extend the use of the phrase byond the walls of a college" (Dissertations, pp. 286-287). ( Finegan 41)

He also took Lowth and Murray to task for stigmatizing you was (singular). Cmiel paraphrases Webster's views on this point: "It was not a solecism, Webster argued. The introduction of you were in the singular was a good example of the silly overrefinement of late-eighteenth-century linguists" (77; citing Webster's A Letter to the Honorable John Pickering [1817] and Philosophical and Practical Grammar [1807], p. 25). Webster also argued against the importance of preserving the few remaining inflections in English (pace Lowth and others: Finegan 43).

In 1828, at the age of 70, Webster published An American Dictionary of the English Language in two quarto volumes. His stated aim was to show the distinctiveness of American English; yet he had not succeeded in making it as distinctive as he had once hoped to. His first dictionary, A Compendious Dictionary of the English Language (1806), had included the simplified spellings "ake, crum, fether, honor, iland, ile (for aisle), theater, wether" (Mathews 45). But even these innovations constituted a compromise; in his "Essay on a Reformed Mode of Spelling" (an appendix to the Dissertations), he had advocated "doctrin, medicin, examin, determin, disciplin, and opak" (Finegan 44). In the 1806 dictionary, he had also spelled boil (a tumor) as bile (Krapp 344). Many of the reforms introduced in the American Dictionary did succeed and today constitute the primary differences between British and American spelling. These include the simplification of the word-final -ck spellings (as in musick, magick) to -c; the -our spellings (e.g., colour, honour) to -or; and the -re spellings (inherited from French, in, e.g., centre, theatre) to -re.

The Prescriptivist/Descriptivist controversy continues...

In 1961, the publication of Webster's Third International Dictionary by the Merriam Company (who had bought the remaining copies of the second edition of the American Dictionary of the English Language, and the rights to publication of subsequent revisions, from Webster's heirs when he died in 1843) was greeted by deluge of reviews, written largely by people who had not seen the dictionary, criticizing the absence of usage labels, lack of capitalization (only God is capitalized), absence of an authoritative (i.e. one correct) pronunciation, and the provision of variant spellings. (There are in fact words labeled as "slang," "nonstandard," "vulgar," and "obscene.") As a reaction to the Third, a new wave of prescriptive dictionaries hit the market, including the American Heritage Dictionary, the Harper Dictionary of Contemporary Usage, and the Oxford American Dictionary.

Goold Brown published The Grammar of English Grammars in 1851. Finegan observes that, ironically, "more than any other grammarian, Brown frustrated part of his own design by parading before his readers a long, colorful line of the very usages he hoped to annihilate" (57). Brown's moralistic prescriptivism is perhaps best revealed in his assertion that "The grammatical use of language is in sweet alliance with the moral" (1851, p. 94).

Richard Grant White, author of Words and Their Uses (1870) and Every-Day English (1880), did not believe that Americans had right to establish their own standard. Words and Their Uses went through thirty-three editions in thirty years and was still in copyright as late as 1927. Among the words he condemned were: donate, jeopardize, resurrect, initiate, practitioner, photographer, pants, conversationalist, standpoint, presidential, gubernatorial, shamefaced, and reliable (Finegan 70).


Though Webster was to change his mind by the end of his life, he was earlier an articulate advocate for something like tolerance of regional variations in pronunciation:
Not to mention small differences, I would observe that the inhabitants of New-England and Virginia have a peculiar pronunciation which affords much diversion to their neighbours. On the other hand, the language in the middle States is tinctured with a variety of Irish, Scotch and German dialects which are justly censured as deviations from propriety and the standard of elegant pronunciation. The truth is, usus est Norma Loquendi, general custom is the rule of speaking, and every deviation from this must be wrong. The dialect of one State is as ridiculous as that of another; each is authorized by local custom; and neither is supported by any superior excellence. If in New-England we hear a flat, drawling pronunciation, in the Southern States we hear the words veal, very, vulgar pronounced weal, wery, wulgar; wine, winter, etc., changed into vine, vinter; soft becomes saft; and raisins and wound, contrary to all rules and propriety, are pronounced reesins, woond. It is the present mode at the Southward, to pronounce u like yu, as in virtyue, fortyune, etc., and in a rapid pronunciation these become virchue, forchune, as also duty, duel, are changed into juty, juel. (Grammatical Institute, Part 1, 1783, p. 6; quoted in Krapp 11)


American English is regarded as having preserved archaic features which have since been altered in British English--i.e., American speech maintained features of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century English--such as the preservation of r in most dialects, and "flat a" [æ] as in "path": features that were lost in southern England at the end of the eighteenth century. In England the flat a became a "broad a" [a]: the sound in "father." Americans generally pronounce either and neither with [i] vowel (as in "bean"), while in England the pronunciation has followed the pattern of the vowel shift to the diphthong [aI], as in "fight."

Since the initial settlements in the Northern, Mid-Atlantic, and Southern colonies, other distinctive variations in American speech have evolved, including the following:

  1. Eastern New England: Parts of Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont. The speech of this region is characterized by the retention of rounded vowel in words like "hot" and "top"; the use of "broad a" [a] in words like "fast" and "path" (i.e., the vowel sound in father); the loss of r in car (Boston is the "focal area" of this dialect).

  2. New York City: the presence or absence of r has become class marker; cot /caught are phonemically contrasted; the pronunciation of curl as "coil" and bird as "boid" is characteristic of working-class speech. Mencken reports that this feature was apparent in speeches by presidential candidate Alfred E. Smith in 1928 (368).

  3. Inland Northern: Western New England, upstate New York,and the basin of the Great Lakes share features of pronunciation resulting from the settlement patterns established during the western migrations along lakes. This variety distinguishes "long" o in words like "mourning" and "hoarse" from the "shorter" sound in "morning" and "horse"; the -th sound (interdental fricative) is "voiced" in "with" (i.e., the sound at the beginning of "the" as contrasted with "thin"); the [s] in "grease" [verb] and "greasy" is voiced (and so rhyme with "sleaze" and "sleazy"); as contrasted with Eastern New England, this is variety retains "post-vocalic r" (as in "car") and has the "flat a" sound (as in "apple").

  4. North Midland speech retains r in all positions (like Inland Northern) and has flat a [æ] in "grass" and "ask." Within this region is a sub-area including the eastern half of Pennsylvania, Southern half of New Jersey, the northern half of Delaware, and adjacent parts of Maryland. Speakers have an unrounded vowel ([a], the sound in "father") in words like "forehead," "forest," and "hot"; "short" e (as in "pest") in "care," "Mary," and "merry"; and they merge long and short o before r in "four" and "forty." Another major subarea in this region includes speech of western Pennsylvania and parts of Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. Features include a merger of the vowels in cot /caught; "intrustive r" (e.g., "warsh" for wash); and the syntactical construction "The car needs washed."

  5. South Midland (Mid Southern): West Virginia, the mountains of Virginia and North Carolina, most of Kentucky and Tennessee. Post-vocalic r is retained in this variety; the diphthong in "right" and "bye" is often pronounced more like the vowel in "father."

  6. Southern: important focal areas are the Virginia Piedmont and the low country near the coast of South Carolina. This variety is characterized by the loss of r finally and before consonants; the unrounded vowel (as in "father") in "top" and "hot," flat a in "grass," "dance," and "path." A very distinctive feature is the treatment of the vowel in "house," "South," and "out": instead of diphthong [aw], Southerners begin this diphthong with [æ] before voiced consonants and finally, while in Virginia and South Carolina the diphthong is pronounced similar to that in Canadian speech, with an initial sound like the vowel in "shut," gliding towards the vowel sound in "foot" (former presidential candidate Pat Robertson is representative of this dialect). Also distinctive is the so-called Southern "drawl": diphtongization or triphthongization of stressed vowels in words like "yes." Final consonant cluster reduction occurs in words like "last" and "kept" (i.e., these are pronounced something like "lass" and "kep"). Around Charleston and New Orleans the vowel in curl and bird is pronounced as in NYC. Many speakers insert glide in Tuesday [tyuz-] and make no distinction between the vowels in pin and pen.

  7. General American used to be thought of as most of the Western half of country, and refers to a dialect characterized by the retention of r, "flat a," and an unrounded vowel in hot. This is a kind of "idealized" dialect (broadcast English) generally thought of as "Standard."

Black English

The origins of Black English (referred to variously as Black Vernacular English, African-American English, and Ebonics) are disputed. One theory holds that this variety of English developed from a pidgin that resulted from the conditions of the slave trade, during which speakers of different African languages were thrown together and forced to communicate through a pidgin language. This pidgin was used by slave traders and slave owners to communicate with blacks, and by blacks of different linguistic backgrounds to communicate with each other. Out of this developed a Black English creole spoken by the first generations of slaves born in North America.This creole can be heard today spoken by the Gullah and Geechee inhabitants of the Carolina Sea Islands. Another view holds that Black English results from the retention of British English features that have not been retained in other varieties of American English. Also controversial is the question of whether Black English and Standard English are on the path to convergence or increasing divergence.

Black English is characterized by pronunciations (phonology), syntactic patterns (grammar), and morphological features (inflections) that in many instances also occur in other varieties of English. Many features are shared by Southern white speakers and by Appalachian speakers. The features below represent tendencies toward speech patterns that occur some of the time in speakers of Black English but that are certainly not to be regarded as universal, or universally-occurring features.

door> [do:] ("doah")
you'll >"youah"*
*Results in appearance of failure to inflect for the future tense
final consonant cluster reduction:
This gives the appearance of a morphological gap in the grammar (i.e., no past tense marker). Note that even in Standard English speakers simplify final clusters in casual speech if the following word in the phrase begins with a consonant: cold cuts>"col´ cuts"
loss of final dental [alveolar] stop:
good man>"goo´ man"
interdental fricatives become alveolar stops:
But, if the following consonant is an r:
AUX-deletion (i.e., deletion of the auxilliary verb):
Where Standard English can contract, Black English can delete:

Standard English (informal)

Black English

He's going

He going

I've got it

I got it

He'd be happy

he be happy

Note that where Standard English cannot contract, Black English cannot delete:

Standard English (informal)

Black English

*What a fool you're.

*What a fool you.

Iterative/habitual be:
He be coming home at six. (means: "He usually comes home at six.")
Double (or multiple) negation:
"Neither one of us ain't got nuthin' ta lose." (Eddie Murphy, 48 Hours)
"Can't no one tell you you ain't somebody." (Jessie Jackson)

cf. "Nor is this not my nose neither." (Shakespeare)

Morphology and Syntax:
With a numerical quantifier such as two, seven, fifty, etc., Black English speakers may not add the obligatory in Standard English (and redundant) morphemes for the plural: e.g., fifty cent, two foot
The use of the possessive marker:
Where the Standard English speaker says "John's cousin"; the Black English speaker might say "John cousin." The possessive is marked in Black English by the "genitival" position of the noun and its possessor
The third-person singular has no obligatory morphological ending in Black English, so that "she works here" is expressed as "she work here."
Black English sometimes uses ain't as a past-tense marker:
Black English present tense: "He don't go."
Black English past tense: "He ain't go."
Standard English: "I will go home"
Black English: "I'ma go home"
Conditional subordination:
Standard English: "I asked if he did it."; BVE
Black English: "I ask did he do it."
Pronoun case
Standard English: "We have to do it." BVE "
Black English: "Us got to do it."
Standard English: " He is over at his friend's house."
Black English: "He over to his friend house."

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