Washington, D.C., has been home to a majority African American population since the late 1950s, with many in the United States considering D.C. an African American cultural center. At the same time, in the 1960s, it became a key site for foundational studies of African American Language (AAL), spearheaded by researchers from the Center for Applied Linguistics and Georgetown University, as the field of sociolinguistics was in its infancy. This article is composed of two main parts: first, it provides relevant sociocultural and demographic information on the history of African Americans in D.C.; second, this article provides an overview of the history of linguistic research on AAL in D.C. and surrounding areas. Research on D.C. AAL has proceeded steadily, if somewhat sporadically, since the 1950s, with some studies achieving wider circulation than others. This article thus provides relevant linguistic and sociohistorical contextual information for readers interested in learning about D.C. AAL in connection with the introduction of the Corpus of Regional African American Language, whose core component is centered on D.C. AAL.
Contextualizing The Corpus of Regional African American Language, D.C.:AAL in the Nation’s Capital
CHARLIE FARRINGTON is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Linguistics at the University of Oregon. He received his M.A. in English from North Carolina State University. His current research focuses on the regional development of African American Language varieties, focusing on consonantal features. Email: email@example.com.
NATALIE SCHILLING is professor of linguistics at Georgetown University. She specializes in the study of language variation and change in American English dialects, including regional, ethnic, and gender-based language varieties. She is head of the Language and Communication in Washington, D.C. (LCDC) sociolinguistic research project. She is the author of Sociolinguistic Fieldwork (Cambridge University Press, 2013), coauthor of American English: Dialects and Variation (with Walt Wolfram, 3rd ed., Wiley-Blackwell, 2016), and coedi-tor of The Handbook of Language Variation and Change (with J. K. Chambers and Peter Trudgill, 2nd ed., Wiley-Blackwell, 2013). She is also an associate editor of the Journal of Sociolinguistics and coeditor-in-chief of Language and Linguistics Compass. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Charlie Farrington, Natalie Schilling; Contextualizing The Corpus of Regional African American Language, D.C.:AAL in the Nation’s Capital. American Speech 1 February 2019; 94 (1): 21–35. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00031283-7308060
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