Language and Societies

ANT/LIN 5320 at Wayne State University

Where They Do Dat At?: Black Perceptions of African American Vernacular English

Where They Do Dat At?: Black Perceptions of African American Vernacular English

Santeiu Griffin

This essay uses documentaries, literary reviews, and discourse analysis to examine the perceptions African American and African immigrants have of AAVE. Throughout this essay, it is shown that African Americans and African immigrants have a highly complex relationship with AAVE. Historical context and external influences have shaped their understanding of AAVE, often resulting in overall negative perceptions of the dialect and the preference of Standard English. However, within the Black community, covert prestige places value on AAVE as it is a large part of the culture. Conversely, preferring Standard English over AAVE causes strife among Black Americans as it is seen as “not being Black enough” or turning one’s back on their own culture. This shows a clear amount of linguistic insecurity among the African American community regarding their own dialect. Additionally, African immigrants tend to have an aversion towards AAVE as their English learning experience often comes from a British-centered curriculum. There is potential for further research regarding how covert prestige and linguistic insecurity can result in unhealthy gatekeeping within the Black community. This essay also suggests further research on the relationship between language and culture and the formation of a positive sense of identity despite internal strife within one’s own community.

April 20, 2022 - Posted by | abstract


  1. Cool topic! I took a class on AAVE and read about various perspectives of the language, but it only scratched the surface and didn’t consider the African immigrant view. I’d definitely be interested in reading the paper.

    Comment by Maria Santine | April 21, 2022 | Reply

  2. This is a topic that I have very little knowledge on so I would definitely be interested in reading your paper. I am surprised that those people who prefer standard English over AAVE are viewed as turning their back on their own culture.

    Comment by Casey Carter | April 28, 2022 | Reply

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