The regional accommodation of earlier and contemporary African American speech remains a major issue in the development of African American English(AAE). This article analyzes a unique regional situation with respect to African American speech—Roanoke Island on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, where the first settlement of British colonists disappeared in 1587 and where a stable community of African Americans has lived since the Civil War. Quantitative analysis of the speech of four generations of African Americans from Roanoke Island for Outer Banks regional features and core diagnostic structures of AAE shows patterns of dialect alignment over time. The generational patterns reveal changes in alignment in the AAE spoken on Roanoke Island over apparent time. However, significant levels of individual variation in each generation are also attested, challenging generalizations about consistent changes over time. The mixed dialect alignment among Roanoke Island African Americans supports the conclusion that regional speech patterns can serve an important role in the development of different varieties of AAE. Furthermore, the unique configuration of dialect features on Roanoke Island indicates alternative trajectories of change in different regional settings,influenced by such factors as population size and local and extended interethnic contact situations.
JEANNINE CARPENTER; THE INVISIBLE COMMUNITY OF THE LOST COLONY: AFRICAN AMERICAN ENGLISH ON ROANOKE ISLAND. American Speech 1 August 2005; 80 (3): 227–255. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00031283-80-3-227
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