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African American English


African American English is abbreviated as AAE and also known as Black English, Ebonics, or African American Vernacular English. This language variety (or dialect) is spoken by many, but not ALL and not ONLY by, African Americans.

Like all languages and dialects, African American English (AAE) follows a system of language patterns. Many of the patterns in AAE are the same as in other American English dialects, but AAE also uses patterns that make it distinct. This section includes some of the recognizable patterns of AAE pronunciation and grammar.

Because speakers of AAE live in many different areas of the country, AAE does not refer to one, unified language variety, but to a collection of similar dialects. The patterns described here include those that many AAE speakers share, but some may be more common for some speakers than for others.

Click on Pronunciation to learn about how pronunciation in AAE is different from other dialects, and click on Grammar to learn what is distinct about AAE grammar.

African American English and Southern English

Because AAE and Southern English share some history (see articles on this history), they share several language patterns. The patterns described here include those used throughout the African American community, including different regions of the country. Those patterns that are also common in Southern English, for both African American and white speakers, are marked with a * which links to a similar entry in the Southern English section.