Melodic and temporal characteristics of different gender and age group of AAVE representatives
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Section 10. Philology and linguistics Секция 10. Филология и лингвистика
Galiant Galyna Vladymyrovna, Odessa 1.1. Mechnikov National University Postgraduate student, the Faculty of Romance-Germanic Philology
E-mail: galinag88@rambler. ru
Melodic and temporal characteristics of different gender and age group of AAVE representatives
Abstract: The present research is dedicated to the prosodic characteristics of AAE, gender and age peculiarities of its speakers. AAVE has been at the center of a series of controversies, all of which are enlightened by evidence from phonology and phonetics. The present research is based on the speech of four Afro-American native speakers, of different sexes, age and professions to show the differences in melodic and temporal characteristics of their speech.
Keywords: Black English, African-American English, Standard American English, peculiarities, origin, melodic characteristics, speech.
The topic of Black English is very actual in terms of sociolinguistics and language interaction development, in racial relations and ethnic cultures. Black English is a social dialect of American English, originated and formed as a result of language interaction in the process of historical development. Black English is a term going back to 1969. It is used almost exclusively as the name for a dialect of American English spoken by many black Americans.
Black English is a variety of English, used in America and it is the subject of many controversies, the problem being that of whether considering it a language, a dialect or simply a slang talk. This language variety, also known a Ebonics, is nearly as old as Standard American English, but it has often been misinterpreted as defective, it has never been standardized and has always had lower status compared to Standard American English.
African American English (AAE), African American Vernacular English (AAVE), Ebonics (literally Black sounds) etc. has many names. Simply put it is the language spoken by most African Americans in the United States. (Peterson, 2006)
From the 1960's to the present, African American English has increasingly become also acceptable term for Black English, and the corresponding official name for the language variety used by Africans Americans is thus African American English or African American Vernacular English (AAVE).
The present research is actual as it deals with the prosodic peculiarities of Afro-American English, whose phonological status has not been investigated thoroughly, especially its intonation.
The object of investigation is melodic and temporal characteristics of Afro — American English.
The subject of the present research is gender and age peculiarities of AAE speakers.
The aim of the present research is to analyze melodic and temporal peculiarities of Black English. The main task of the work is to study how gender and age influence prosodic means of the speech.
Acoustic analysis is the main method of investigation.
The present research is based on the speech of four Afro-American native speakers- Akili Lee, Henry Louis Gates senior, Woopi Goldberg and Temple Hemphill, taken from the American talk show and the documental film «The History of Afro-American Lives».
Black English Vernacular (BEV) as coined by William Labov in 1972 defines the variety of American English spoken by Black People. Its pronunciation is in some respects common to Southern American English, which is spoken by many African Americans in the United States and by many non-African American .
Ebonics is a recent and controversial neologism, coined by Robert L. Williams during a 1973 conference in St. Louis, Missouri, «Cognitive and Language
Секция 10. Филология и лингвистика
Development of the Black Child& quot-. It is a blend of ebony (a synonym for black that lacks its pejorative connotations) and phonics (pertaining to speech sounds) and by definition it refers specifically to an African-language-based Creole (from an earlier pidgin) that has been relexified by borrowing from English, resulting in what African Americans now speak in the United States .
There are three main suggestions for the origin of African American Vernacular English .
Historical discussions about the origin ofAAE often start at the point at which African slaves were thrust into a linguistic situation in which they had to learn English. Some historical accounts of the development of AAE have taken the position that the distinctive patterns of AAE are those which also occur in Niger-Congo languages such as Kikongo, Mande and Kwa .
According to Bailey (2001) this is the «Ebonics» view, which also suggests that AAVE is a separate language.
The Creole-origin hypothesis for AAVE has received support of one kind or another from several studies. However, it has been strongly disputed by dialectolo-gists, who affirm that many of the morphemes and mor-phosyntactic patterns associated with Creoles are well attested in British folk speech. There have been studies that claim that AAVE is a semi-Creole, suggesting that it did not undergo the full restructuring that result in Creole varieties.
Several facts could suggest the AAVE developed from a Creole. Such facts include the initial setting of South Carolina by colonists and slaves from Barbados and the importation of the first Georgia slaves from South Carolina.
Proponents of the Creolist view note that it is quite possible that slaves from Africa and those imported from the West Indies brought established creoles with them .
On the other hand, quantitative sociolinguists have focused on accounting for similarities between AAVE and white non-standard varieties of American English. While conceding that AAVE may have started as a Creole, Fasold and Labov argue that its present grammar is essentially English, the normal outcome of the decreoli-sation hypothesis. Labov states the following position as a consensus: the Black English vernacular is a subsystem of English with a distinct set ofphonological and syntactic rules that are now aligned in many ways with rules of other dialects. It incorporates many features of southern phonology, morphology and syntax- blacks in turn have exerted influence on the dialects of the south where they have lived.
It shows evidence of derivation from an earlier Creole that was closer to the present-day Creoles of the Caribbean.
It has a highly developed aspect system, quite different from other dialects of English, which shows a continuing development of its semantic structure.
The reason why linguists have been unable to clearly specify the origin ofthe language is because not enough adequate data exists of black speech from the years of slavery . However, scholars have been able to collect enough information to know that AAE has a strong connection to the Southern White Vernacular English (SWVE) . They accept the decreolisation hypothesis, and also believe in the influence of AAE on the speech of whites who have interacted regularly with African-American, especially in the rural south, thus making possible both options.
Black English is complex, controversial, and only partly understood. Records of the early speech forms are sparse. It is unclear, how much influence black speech has had on the pronunciation of southern whites- according to some linguists, generation of close contact resulted in the families ofthe slaves owners picking up some ofthe speech habits of their servants, which gradually developed into the distinctive southern 'drawl. Slave labor in the south gave birth to diverse linguistic norms- former indentured servants from all parts of the British Isles, who often became overseers on plantations, variously influenced the foundation of Black English. First the industrial revolution then the Civil War disrupted slavery and promoted African-American migration within the U. S., as result ofwhich slave dialects were transplanted from Southern plantation to the factories of the North and Midwest. There was a widespread exodus to the industrial cities of the northern states, and black culture became known throughout the country for its music and dance.
Many historical events have had an effect on Black English. One of this was the early use of English-based pidgins and creoles among slave populations, as almost all Africans originally were brought to the United States as slaves. Pidgin is a variety of a language which developed for some practical purpose, such as trading, among groups of people who did not know each other’s language. Creole is a pidgin which has become the first language of a social community. 
Black English was investigated in the USA by D. Crystal («The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language «,» English Language») , by C. Baugh and T Cable («History of the English Language») , in Russia by R. V. Reznic, T. S. Sookina, («A History of The English Language») , by A. D. Schweitzer («The Social Dif-
Section 10. Philology and linguistics
ferentiation of English in The USA. "-) , but there are no monographic research of B. E. in our country.
The construct of AAE is complex and variable. AAE varies by the age, gender, region, and social class of the speaker. Most sociolinguistic studies do not examine every given feature of a dialect, and it is difficult to make cross study comparisons of feature use over space, time, and demographic group. 
The present research is based on gender and age peculiarities of the analyzed speakers: Akali Lee, mail, Henry Luois Gates senior, mail, Woopi Goldberg, female and Temple Hemphill, female.
The analyzed spontaneous speech of the representatives of Afro-American English allows us to
state that melodic characteristics of the female speech are quite similar. In the speech of middle aged female — Woopi Goldberg — Sliding Scale prevails thus making it rather emphatic (Oh, it is possible to find out who I am and w. wha… what I am? Oh, my goodness!). The tempo is rather fast. Acoustic analysis allowed us to state that average data of frequency is 165 Hz, which proves the fact that actor’s speech possesses so called «trained voice», which is easier perceived by audience. There are a lot of syntagmatic pauses in her speech combined with pauses of hesitation. The length of pauses varies from short to rather long proving the fact that in spontaneous speech pauses of different length occur (pic. 1).
The analyzed speech of the female — Temple Hepmphill — aged 41 differs in the melodic structure (. So I know he is not a black pr… he is not the black. h… president of black America, he is all of.). Sliding Scale combined with High Falling terminal tone prevails, thus making her speech rather emphatic and emotional. The tempo is also rather fast, pauses of hesitation occur, which
are mostly filled. The duration of pauses is between 100 to 500 mc, which points out the fact that the speaker is highly emotional and concentrated on the subj ect ofthe discussion. A high level of range and register variations appears in the speech of female informants. According to the data of the acoustic analysis the beginning of the phonation is accompanied by the extension of the voiced band (pic. 2).
Секция 10. Филология и лингвистика
The speech of the male representatives of different age group shows quite opposite melodic and temporal characteristics to the female speech. The speech of the old aged male is not so emotional, rather monotonous where Low and Mid-Level Scales prevail (Rode the buses… sat on the back of the buses… we go all one day… I helped my wife on. and she stepped up. made her took a hold over and pulled her back and stepped in front of her). Low and High Fall are main
terminal tones- the voice range is narrow, thus proving the fact that the female speech is more emotional than male speech with the variety of emphatic Scales, terminal tones and wide range. The tempo is rather slow with the amount of breath pauses. The frequency rate of terminal/nuclear tones is from 60 to 108 cps. The emphasis is reached by means of successive volume ascension of the tone syllables (75−80 dB) (pic. 3).
The tempo of Mr. Lee’s speech, of a middle aged speaker, is rather fast in comparison with the previous speaker (Period of some of these jobs for rams is bill outs in such you know are investing still in infrastructure, but I think you… you’d know we might in a lot. looking at infrastructure very still, very simplistic manner). The range of pauses in the speech of the old aged speaker varies from long to very long
with the occurrence of pauses of hesitation. Interaction of the above mentioned prosodic characteristics conduces a certainty effect of foundation, while a middle aged male speaker tends to rather fast pronunciation with a short length of pauses. This speaker’s speech sounds confident, which shows his willingness to affect the audience and urge his rectitude upon it (pic. 4).
The conducted experiment made it possible to conclude that Afro-American speech is characterized by emphatic melodic characteristics in the female speech representatives of different age groups, fast tempo and short pauses which differs it from Standard American English, which is
characterized by neutral characteristics, both melodic and temporal with
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The present research is dedicated to the prosodic characteristics of AAE, gender and age peculiarities of its speakers. AAVE has been at the center of a series of controversies, all of which are enlightened by evidence from phonology and phonetics. The present research is based on the speech of four Afro-American native speakers, of different sexes, age and professions to show the differences in melodic and temporal characteristics of their speech.