“‘African-American Vernacular of English’ has certain implications just because of the title—because of the fact that it has ‘African-American’ in it. Some of the things that people tend to imply…is that it’s a dialect that all African-Americans speak, which is not accurate.” – Rachel Finley
On this episode of Speaking Of… I’m joined by my friend and colleague, Rachel Finley. Rachel is an actor, director, spoken-word artist, writer, and teacher specializing in acting, voice, and speech. Rachel is currently researching dialects of the African diaspora and I invited her as a follow-up to my last episode. I asked Rachel “What are your thoughts on the “So-Called African American Vernacular of English?” We talked about why AAVE is a useful term for linguists, but less so as a term to describe the accent of an entire race of people. Rachel shared her thoughts on what might be a better term, and offered perspectives on how she approaches researching and teaching accents of the diaspora (and beyond).
Why African-American Vernacular of English or AAVE isn’t an ideal title for an accent.
Why having an accent named after a race versus a region or culture is problematic.
The difference between intent vs. impact when describing accents.
Why focusing on regional accents is more ideal than focusing on one “general” accent.
What speech and accent teachers should consider in developing a speech curriculum for a group of students.