In this article, the authors analyze data from recorded interviews archived in the Corpus of Regional African American Language (CORAAL) database with 20 “lower-working-class” speakers in the DCA corpus (1968–69) and 16 “working-class” speakers in the DCB corpus (2015–17) and present a qualitative summary of the use of three grammatical features of African American Language (AAL): copula absence, third-person singular -s absence, and invariant habitual be. They then focus on present-tense marking and provide a more detailed description of the distribution of zero third-person singular across four age groups in each corpus. They find that the occurrence of the three features varies considerably among the speakers examined, even within the same age group, and overall, note parallels with what has been shown for AAL speakers of similar social backgrounds in other urban and rural locations. They discuss the data and conclusions about change over time in light of methodological issues specific to quantitative sociolinguistics, such as interview structure, field-worker effects, including the relationship between field-workers and interviewees, and small numbers of tokens.

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