This article examines variability in the social factors and internal linguistic constraints on (ING) in African American Language (AAL) based on a comparison of the two Corpus of Regional African American Language (CORAAL) components from Washington, D.C., CORAAL:DCA (recorded 1968–69) and CORAAL:DCB (recorded 2015–17). It also compares DCA with an early study of (ING) in Detroit in 1968. The analysis indicates important differences in how social factors correlate with (ING) over both space and time, as socioeconomic status and gender show differential intersections that distinguish the earlier AAL sample from Washington, D.C., from a comparable AAL sample from Detroit, as well as the D.C. sample a half-century later. Internal constraints from the current CORAAL study tend to align with those indicted in other studies, but some minor constraint effects indicate structural diversity. The comparative results point to a more nuanced understanding of the features that characterize AAL over time and place as well as a more informed perspective on how (ING) functions as a general sociolinguistic variable.
The Status Of (ING) in African American Language: A Quantitative Analysis of Social Factors and Internal Constraints
JON FORREST is visiting assistant professor of linguistics at Indiana University. He has done research on the internal and social constraints of the (ING) variable, as well as social factors affecting the Southern Vowel Shift in white Southern varieties of English. His current research examines the interface of style and social structure in the production of the Southern Vowel Shift while speakers are at work, connecting individual stylistic decisions to linguistic changes in progress. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
WALT WOLFRAM is William C. Friday Distinguished University Professor at North Carolina State University, where he also directs the Language and Life Project. He has pioneered research on social and ethnic dialects since the 1960s and published many articles on these varieties in American Speech over the years. Email: email@example.com.
Jon Forrest, Walt Wolfram; The Status Of (ING) in African American Language: A Quantitative Analysis of Social Factors and Internal Constraints. American Speech 1 February 2019; 94 (1): 72–90. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00031283-7308049
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