African American Vernacular English (AAVE) is developing a class of previously undescribed function words, facilitated by the semantic generalization of the word nigga. The authors demonstrate that nigga is unspecified for race, gender, or humanness. They argue that there are multiple n-words, fulfilling different grammatical and social functions. Using a variety of sources, they show that there are new pronouns in AAVE based on nigga—moreover, they pattern with pronouns, not imposters, with respect to binding, agreement, and theta-role assignment. Vocatives and honorics are also explored. The article concludes with a discussion of the origin of these forms and their relevance both to linguistic controversy and to societal controversy around the taboo word and the stigmatized dialect.

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