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AAVE and the Missing Links

AAVE and the Missing Links

While sitting and watching videos on Languages and Dialects, as I often do I came across the following videos on my favorite language/dialect:

A look at AAVE/Ebonics from a linguistic standpoint – legitimizing the ethnolect.
A look at the misrepresentation of AAVE/Ebonics in politics and media of the 1990s.

Okay, maybe I am biased, because it is essentially my first native tongue. Yes, it is possible to have two, or even three. There is still some debate as to which it is, language or dialect, but whatever it is, AAVE is neither improper English nor slang.

I have also noticed that, since French and Dutch have become the main languages of my day-to-day professional, and official communication languages, and no matter how well I have mastered Standard English, and use it in almost all English-language writing I do, whenever I am irritated, hurt or just feel like uttering anglophone phrases to those who are close to me, I sometimes uncontrollably blurt out phrases and expressions that I have neither heard nor used since childhood. This phenomenon is especially pronounced in the Netherlands, where I still have friends who have never become accustomed to the fact that I learned Dutch rather quickly, and even teach it. By the way, People are always shocked that an American, or any Native English speaker, can speak anything other than English – an issue that is like an eternal side-piercing thorn whether searching for office jobs or going on auditions. The Dutch live under the falsehood that their language is “difficult” and that Anglophones, in particular, cannot learn it.


What the Dutch don’t realize, is that their language is extremely easy. Putting a Chicagoan in a household of Dutch-only speakers in some isolated Dutch village where nobody speaks a word of English, is the approximate equivalent of putting a East Londoner in a Black family’s household in rural Mississippi. Within a matter of days of pointing and speaking at calm pace, all parties will be able to eventually eliminate the pointing; in weeks, conversation speed can accelerate; and within a couple of months, basic conversation. In all likelihood, in less than four months of immersion, unassisted basic conversation could be held with no major issues. Why is this? Well, just like the in the situation of basic Mississippi AAVE versus basic East London English, basic Chicago English and basic rural Dutch’s only real differences lie in the pronunciation (mostly in relation to vowels) in addition to some minor grammar, syntax variation, and one very importan verb (to be = zijn).

  • this = dit
  • that = dat
  • What is this? = Wat is dit?
  • That is a house? = Dat is een huis
  • These are good! = Deze zijn goed!

According to the U.S. Department of State’s Foreign Services Institute, for a native speaker of English without prior language learning experience, and with Professional Working Proficiency in Category ILanguages such as Dutch, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Spanish, Romanian, Italian and French should take approximately 600 class hours (1 class hour = 45-50 minutes), or 24 weeks. That is a mere 25 class hours a week. And it does not mean the learner must be in a classroom all that time. It is more a question of workload and self-application. However, it just goes to show how laziness gets the best of us all. For instance, I have not particularly applied myself to learning Danish despite the apparently similarly short relative learning-time it shares with Dutch in reference to native English speakers (bidialectal in my case). In any case, this language classification, little known in the Netherlands, by the Dutch or the anglophone expats, does not eliminate language discrimination in the Netherlands, linked to the stereotype that Americans (sometimes extended to all anglophones) are somehow incapable of learning a foreign language.


Learning to understand and communicate in Dutch, for me, was at its most like learning to understand and communicate with my brother from Mississippi, having met each other in our early adulthood. By then, I already spoke Spanish, French, Italian, some Romanian, and was learning German at the University, and having the occasional encounter with family members who still spoke Southern varieties of AAVE. Yes, if it is classified as a dialect rather than a language (with no arm, navy, or national border), then Ebonics/AAVE is a dialect with dialects, or regional varieties, spanning from the Deep South to Canada, and with its main centers being located in the Deeps South, possibly diverging from a historical epicenter around the coastal lowlands of the Carolinas and the Gullah language (or Sea Islands Creole English). It is worth looking at the historical port of entry for African slaves, Charleston, in present day South Carolina. 

Perhaps, my ease in learning Dutch is linked to one factor in particular – I began learning a foreign dialect as my mother and elder sister began reading books written in General English (GE) to me. Well, for my sister maybe it was more like reciting what she had heard several times, using the pictures as a guide, at least in the beginning, (thus reading the pictures as though some sort of meaning packed pictogram). Back then, the whole immediate family was around, from great-grandmother, The Matriarch, to almost every cousin. The family was fresh from the South when my mother was a just a small child, and even within the South they had made an eastward migration from Mississippi to Tennessee and Kentucky, where my maternal Grandfather was from, up into Missouri and finally to Illinois. Refined, though their standard speech may have been, it was an elegant Southern variety that I heard whenever the adults interacted with people in public places. At home there was always a mixing of dialects with a heavy focus on AAVE behind closed doors. However, when a stranger came around, Black or White, standard English was the first language to come out. My elder sister also began reciting her memorized books to me quite early on, and I listened attentively.

My first memory of actual interaction between myself a person outside of my own home or extended family, not counting public places mentioned above where most contact went directly through my mother, was when I began going to preschool. I don’t even remember the teacher or really any of the students besides a blond girl Maria. Trauma is what keeps that name, face and hair emblazoned in my mind. I had a serious crush on herm and unfortunately, previously unknown lactose intolerance got the best of me. At the lunch table, right there in front of Maria, I vomited. Nobody knew what it was, and my mother never let me go back. I learned what I needed to learn to enter kindergarten at home.

The next experience was with kids from the only white family I knew in our neighborhood. As is usually the case in such situations in the United States, there is not much difference in the way the white and black children speak in migratorily Black neighborhoods. Codeswitching works both ways. Essentially, the children from white families are the ones who learn to codeswitch in these neighborhoods. The next summer, we moved next door to my grandmother. Again, there was no need for outside friends, I had my siblings, and frequent encounters with my cousins once again.

That fall, though, I started Kindergarten. The only person I remember was a blond boy named Charlie who I had befriended. This first befriending with someone outside of my large extended family who didn’t speak both a standard variety of English and AAVE, was also my first extended language exchange experience. The first day of school was also the first day ever, in my whole life, that I remember playing with a child outside the AAVE context – a blond boy named Charlie, and he became my best friend.

Naturally, at school, no concessions were made for linguistic discrepancies. I didn’t need any, I acclimated to standard English with little or no hitch. The only issues came after being held back in Kindergarten, because I fell ill after moving in with my uncle, from Illinois to Iowa, while my mother was away working. I just had to get the chicken pox, making me miss more days than permitted. I had already previously been hospitalized after falling ill. I believe it was after deciding to take a nap on the basement floor. What a silly child I was. In any case, the chicken pox incident led the school to hold me back, despite my ability to do absolutely everything that was expected to pass to the 1st grade even before I started kindergarten. And the end-of year evalution change that. Although, I do remember pausing a couple of seconds when I reached 99 in the counting part. I don’t remember, when my teacher asked, “What comes after 99?”, whether I answered in General English with “a/one hundred”, or if my uncle’s blackified/ebonified/AAVE “a/one hunned”. Or for that matter, seeing my musical ear that seems to pick up things much too easily, I could have picked up the German American “hundert” (pronounced in Iowa almost like the Dutch “honderd” but with a glottal stop at the end). After all, Iowa has white kids who have to worry about codeswitching too. It is German America, no less. And later on in the upper grades, we learned these things. German was and is still spoken, and learned there as a university major today, usually in conjunction with Business.. Whatever I said it was, it was correct, even if dialectal. All I know is that, that to this day, all versions can be heard. It could have been a mistaken dialectal proncunciation, the long absences both semesters, or both. However forcing a child who can perform all tasks, given just because the pronunciation of 100 is not in the expected way, all three are considered English, ethnic, consideration is not taken in the street, it should probably not have played a role in my not passing.

Naturally, my mother was livid when she discovered my uncle had allowed it. After all, she had prepared me well for going to school, and my elder sister also helped greatly by sharing her books (from memory, and later reading), schoolwork, and everything else with me up until the move. I remember the feeling of injustice as though it were yesterday. The incident, sent me deep into myself, I came home regularly with report cards and teachers notes saying that I didn’t participate in class. On the contrary, I knew I was able to perform at the necessary level or above. Still, I remember feeling like I had failed for some reason while at the same time thinking, “All of my friends passed, why didn’t I get to pass to the first grade.” Even worse, the first-grade classroom my best friends where in, including my friend Jason who lived in the same apartment complex, was only in the next room, joined a door, and at recess time on rainy days, they actually allowed us to all play together inside, thus increasing my embarrassment. Playtime was occasionally accompanied by teasing by those who were previously my playmates.

Later, by the time the school year was out, though I had changed schools, I started thinking “What’s the point? The teachers aren’t going to listen to me anyway?” I went from being a strong reader, teetering between levels 1 and 2 readers, to being nervous whenever the teachers called on me to read aloud. My mother had come back and taken me out of that school, knowing the damage that it could do if I had stayed there, but I eventually dropped to a level 3 reader by 1st grade, and stayed there for a bit. The beginning of that year, the distrust of homeroom teachers was reinforced for something maybe quite trivial for some people. As previously mentioned, my mother had prepared me for school well before I started. Part of that preparation was teaching me how to write. Although the teacher surely meant no harm, she did something no teacher should ever do, especially with a child, a boy, who wrote as neatly as I did. My letter a, I learned to write it in the cursive style. No teacher before had messed with it. She too should have left it alone. After all, it was the second letter in my surname.

What kind of a lunatic walks up to a seven-year-old child on his first day in a new grade level, looks at the worksheet with his neatly written name thereupon, picks up his eraser, erases the stylish cursive letter ‘a’  in his last name and says, “This is wrong. It’s supposed to be like this…”, jots down a block letter ‘ɑ’, and thinks nothing of it? That would be a teacher who has just, hopefully inadvertently, destroyed a boy’s desire to write nicely. My writing became a sheer disaster for many years to come. The first book of poetry I wrote at age 9, newly in my possession again at age 34, looks like it was written by a five-year-old. Until my competitive spirit resurrected, when I changed schools again, I simply no longer trusted teachers, at least not the homeroom teachers. Music, and P.E. teachers, I loved.


Physical Education class is quite irrelevant in this topic, I will talk about that some other time, some other place.  In music class, however, I got my first taste of Spanish. Yes, in the US, or at least in Iowa, we tend to learn songs that are significant to our, contrary to European belief, multicultural, multilingual society. We regularly sang a song in the first and second grade, called “The Months of the Year”. One day, toward the end of the year at my penultimate elementary school, our music teacher flipped the disc over. Lo, and behold on side B, what a wonder for a curious kid, a seven-year-old who had essentially deduced that elementary schools are idiots. My music teacher was another species, she was not a Latin-American. However, not only was she playing the Spanish version for us, but she actually knew the lyrics and was teaching them to us. “Whāi cain’t she be ār teacher ev’ry day?”, I thought. On top of that she was gaining other points in my mind, she taught us the Iowa State Anthem, America the Beautiful, My Country ‘tis of Thee, the University of Iowa’s Hawkeye Fight Song (I forget that one though), and many others. Until then, we had only learned the Pledge of Allegiance of the United States and the US national Anthem. Not that I have anything against them, it just became a little monotonous for a child who was in a grade that was too easy for him, further decreasing his will to try.

By the time we were back in the same house, I didn’t have much use for standard English, except with our new stepfather, a Kansan, with a German-American father and an Irish-American mother, making him the classic combo in America German-Irish. Though, it can never be said that Kansans speak perfect English. To fully understand the dialect continuum in the United States, it is necessary to consider the history quotas on immigration in the United States. and the effects that the non-British languages had upon regional varieties of English. Many of these languages died out except in enclaves throughout the United States following anti German, Italian and French sentiments, especially during the aftermath of World War I and world War II.  Surely the Spanish American War had an impact on attitudes toward Spanish, which were never pristine. Basically, the US inherited every mortal enemy of Great Britain, and the poor Italian, just got caught in the crossfire, thanks to Mussolini and another unfortunate event with a murder. The result was even more xenophobia than there ever was before, but quotas on the English have long been lifted.

After our final move in 3rd grade when I worked my way back up through the levels, but, suddenly at the new school, there were no more levels in the classroom, no more direct embarrassment. There were however reading evaluations, part of which included silently, reading a longer passage, and then answering the questions posed by a stranger, not the new WONDERFUL teacher who I knew, and adored, but a stranger. I still don’t remember who the person was, but when it came to reading evaluations “reads at grade level” is fine and dandy, but knowing that I could read the more difficult books of my 12-year-old sister, just didn’t feel comfortable talking to “that lady”, as I usually called women who I didn’t know, my distrust came back. This happened for a very good reason. I had read on the evaluation sheet the possible options “reads below grade level”, which I thankfully did not get, and “reads above grade level”. I understood how I didn’t get it, I recognized that I was nervous talking to her. I had stumbled over words.  

Since middle school, I never thought of myself as myself unintelligent, just no smarter than anyone else. Just more capable than what my teachers had been permitting me to be. I had settled on mediocre, a contrast to how I saw the world as a small child, refusing to talk to teachers by age 10, because I didn’t think many of them capable of understanding anything. My 3rd-grade teacher’s reading of the ‘Little Prince’ set me on that kick. After all, any teacher who thought that I could only read at grade level, refused the book report I wrote over ‘Lassie Come Home.’ That culprit was Mrs. Ellis in 4th grade. I had bought the book in a book fair the year before. I didn’t read it over the summer, aside from the first few chapters, but it was the year I learned to skim, having watched a program on the subject. That summer, I set myself to learning how to extract important information from a book by placing my fingers on the page and skimming down the page. I used “Lassie, Come Home” The next school year for that book report that teacher, who I thought was on my side, finally having a black teacher, I had never had or even seen one. She was the only one in the school, like Tiffany Haddish said, “a black unicorn” In German America.

I had previously entered the MIT (Minorities in Teaching, now Multicultural Initiatives in Teaching) outreach program when I was in 3rd grade. The outreach program, a partnership between the University of Northern Iowa and the school districts in Iowa’s urban centers, was designed to recruit young minority students to go into teaching. The main issue being that minorities in the US who go to the university tend to go into fields such as medicine, law, and other “invisible professions” for young black students. And although the Black Unicorn failed me in the most epic of ways, she awakened the teacher in me. Ironically though, I did not stay at the University of Northern Iowa, where I had originally planned to become a teacher, and however borderline autistic I may be in the way of languages, math and music, I found myself in a domino effect of bad teacher recommendation after another all the way until high school, with the inability to perform at the same high level throughout a whole school year, until discovered the world of accelerated courses via night school and summer school. This rendered my final year so easy that I literally had nothing to do other than what I wanted to do.  

I realize, now in my adulthood, that my nervous stumbling over words was probable a speech impediment issue that went unnoticed, and auto-controlled, since I USUALLY spoke articulately, measured, with the ability to codeswitch, and most of all, rarely. I also played a big part in the monitoring of my youngest brother’s stutter, the youngest of my father’s seven children, by telling him to slow down, relax and such, because he “thinks faster than he speaks”. My father, himself had a stutter, which came out mostly when he was angry, and anyway he spoke so fast and monotone that when he wasn’t stuttering, we didn’t bother trying answer back. Unlike my two brothers who have a regular stutter, I have the anger and nervousness stutter like that of my father, complete with his speed. The difference is that I am less monotone and much louder, thanks to all the theatrical, and singing, instrumental and swimming training (large lung capacity + strong diaphragm = too loud in almost everything). I noticed only recently that my own difficulty comes out when I am nervous or angry. However, because I never really spoke unless I was among my family, especially my siblings and cousins, or when I had, and, most importantly, wanted to do so at school. This reserved state of being, meant that my communication was mostly calm, or a controlled performance on stage. Therefore, I really could have never noticed there was a problem. The stumbling during the faulty reading evaluations was only once a year, and by 6th grade, I no longer cared that the highest I ever received was “reads at grade level”.

The funny thing about it all is that I was one of the few who understood Romeo and Juliet in my 8th grade English class. I spent my free time doing something other kids didn’t I was watching classic movies, many of which were adaptations of Shakespeare plays. I had already watched the 1968 adaptation of Romeo and Juliet by then, but also the Taming of the Shrew, and If it came on AMC, I probably saw it.  That was the year of another problem. those elementary school reading evaluations caught up with me. My teacher Mrs. Teague did not believe I had the capacity to write the way I did, or use certain words I did, and accused me of plagiarism. I told her I did indeed write it and I clearly put it in my own words, she only had to look at my sources. She refused to believe me, and that is when the you-know-what hit the fan. I was destroyed. I had worked hard, finally understanding what she meant with “run-on sentence”. For my previous papers, she just didn’t, or wouldn’t explain it properly. Therefore, I always had many points taken off, marked up with her red pen. I was determined to write a good paper the next time around. Thanks to my Spanish teacher’s clarifying grammatical issues and looking up the grammatical term in an encyclopedia at home, I had fixed the problem. However, I had apparently made the paper too complex for my “grade level”, and she had apparently linked my rarity of speaking to an inability to content-filled material or think, for that matter.

The Iowa school system pulled one over on my younger sister years later too, because after she had been there and entire semester, and quite capable. However, being 4 years old in an Iowa school when your birthday is in October, is apparently not allowed, regardless of one’s abilities. My mother had missed that one, since my elder sister had been, not only allowed to enter in Illinois at age 4 with a birthday in November. The difference is that she was even set to skip a grade the next year, but chose not to because the older kids, and younger kids began bullying with the famous words smart kids had to hear, such as “You think you are so smart!!” Perhaps, that is what led me to keep my mouth shut, witnessing my sister come home crying and begging to be put into the 1st grade instead of the 3rd.   For my younger brother, if I look back at it now, and his difficulty reading, I would have to say I see exactly what happened. He had a language problem, mostly with distinguishing l, r, and w.  He sure wasn’t and wasn’t less capable than the rest of us, but the school system pushed him into a state of retaliation.

Ah yes, I have been preaching this for years. I am a speaker of both, plus Dutch and German and currently Learning Frisian, and Irish (Gaelic, the Celtic language, not Ulster Scots or Hiberno-English, though I am versed in Scots). And all the languages in the preceding parentheses likely play large roles the development of AAVE that were reinforced by the African languages mentioned in the video, at least in the tense-mood-aspect system, especially in that the Gaelic (Irish=Gaeilge, Scottish=Gàidhlig and Manx=Gaelg) and Brythonic languages (Welsh=Cymraeg, Cornish=Kernowek, Breton=Brezhoneg).

What do the speakers of the aforementioned languages all have in common with AAVE speakers? Well, if you look at them as peoples on opposite sides of the Atlantic Ocean, they do not have much in common other than English colonial domination – linguistically and territorially. However, if you look at them from the new-world perspective, you can also add PROXIMITY. And when living in close contact there are other not so surprising phenomena, no matter how modern racism tries to paint a picture of complete isolation.

By now, with all the “SHOCKING DNA RESULTS”, most Americans realize (though it is still a constant battle in Europe, Africa, and the rest of the world), that most “African-Americans” are not simply Americans of African descent who took names from “English” slave masters and cities/towns/counties in the Americas where their 100% Africans were born [ironically I write this that as I watch this season’s Meilleure Pâtisserie – Chefs & Célébrités (French version of the Great British Bakeoff), and hear humorist Waly Dia, in reference to his first visit to Senegal, pronounce the words mon pays d’origine (my country of origin), which French people with at least one branch of the family coming from abroad usually say when referring to that ancestral homeland of some close or distant relative. Still, it is good to see that people are nowadays proud and outspoken about their roots, while still feeling French. It’s just funny that his French (?) parent was somehow left out of the origin discussion, but he was saved by his chef with her reaction about the marriage of cultures. No, African-Americans, like their dialect, are highly ethnically mixed, and skin color has nothing to do with percentages. That would be for another reason, phenotypes (not all Africans, even within the same country or even tribe are all the same color – just doesn’t work that way). However, it is not coincidence that African-Americans tend to have Irish, Scottish, Welsh, Cornish, Breton, Norman French, Southern French, and Iberian surnames, among others, which is why I prefer Black, or just plain American. Ignoring the French, Spanish, and Portuguese surnames for a minute, though, and just looking at the “English Colonial” population boosting tactics, we can see very strong evidence for why this happened. It wasn’t all because of rape. Family was important, morality did indeed play a part, and most slave masters kept their slave children close to home, no matter what slave mistress they ticked off, and some chose not to take a white wife, and no matter how “wrong” society saw it for a European to have a child with an African. And although society saw it especially amoral in the case of European women to have children with African men, it did happen, just less for obvious rape accusation reasons, as well as the fact that a child took his mother’s status. And it went a little something like this:

Scenario 1:Free mother? Free child!

This was clearly the ideal status, unless Black and someone wanted to somehow pull one over, until later when it was less risky in the North as slavery became out of fashion.

Scenario 2: Indentured servant mother?Indentured servant child!

Indentured servitude for these children lasted until the age of maturity or the term of servitude of the mother, whichever was longer! Can’t have a child set free before the mother. Unfortunately, many indentured children died before reaching adulthood, and many adults died before earning freedom. And once free, one could be again indentured for several reasons.

Scenario 3: Slave mother? Sorry child!

Only a miracle was gon set you free no matter what “degree” of white blood you have, even if the female slave with the visibly African/South Asian phenotype was so far back in history that all known slave relatives/ancestors were blond-haired, blue-eyed, and fair-skinned slaves. Simply being a slave was indication that there was an African somewhere in the line, even if the DNA, no longer shows it (theoretically speaking as it was not known at the time to even be possible).

Scenario 4: Escaped, physically white looking mother (slave or indentured) with her child? Didn’t really matter what the child looked like!

Assuming there was no man around to witness the pregnancy or the birth, her “owner” didn’t know she was with child at the time of escape, meaning the child was not yet born when she did flee, and she wasn’t noticeably “showing” until after thereafter, pregnancy would have been a benefit to the escaping slave, nobody would have been looking for a pregnant “white” or “white-looking negro” woman.

In the beginning though, Christianity and literacy were enough, why they became illegal. Thus, the prayer meeting and itinerant slave schools became life-risking tools for abolitionists, and soul-saving missionaries. Some rules are just made for breaking…

I digress… But the point was, those free and indentured mothers could indeed have been of African, or at least “partial” African, descent; but many were indeed of European (English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh, Cornish etc…) descent or at least partially… DNA tells a tale much older than the Extra-European Colonial period. Why were the Celtic peoples in close contact with Africans in America (by the way there are Gaelo-Kenyans, Australians, New Zealanders etc… too, look it up)? I will answer a question with a question. Who do you think posed the biggest threat to the English Crown’s (I refuse to blame the English people or already subjugated Celts, even though some did the dirty work LOL) expansion into Celtica, as I will call the combined countries? I will give you a hint. It was not England’s French, or Spanish enemies on the continent. If you have guessed, the Celts themselves, you are right. You can’t fully subjugate a group of people so easily without an effective tool.

Colonial expansion on global scale was the perfect tool. Remember scenarios 1 and 2 above? Well, the way many people got to be in scenario 1 in North America, other than the dangerous scenario 4 from scenario 3 (or even 2), was to do something to get sent there, and put into scenario 2 shipped away to never be seen again. Not all of Australia’s prisoners were criminals, at least in the seedy sense. Many were freedom fighters from England’s neighboring countries, especially Ireland. Also, Australia was not the only place off to where they were literally shipped. The American colonies, especially the Southern plantations were a good place to send those pesky Celts who dared to even mention the words freedom, saoirse, saorsa etc… (somehow Cersei Lannister of Lannister Rock – sorry for the game of thrones reference –  made me think of this word. It can’t be phono-geographic-geological coincidence Saoirse, Leinster and the tradition of an Carraig the Rock).

The Scottish, of course, had an added bonus – their own ability to think ahead. After being defeated in battle under “Bonnie Prince Charlie” (Prince Charles Eduard Stuart, in Scottish Gaelic “Prionnsa Teàrlach Eberhard Stiùbhardachd”), and thereafter following the “if ye cain’t beat’em join’em” method, and even going a step further by installing universities all over the place in Scotland, thus leading to higher levels of education in Scotland than England, they came to hold high functions in the British military and became the Administrators in the colonies. And not only that, but the belligerent clansmen of the North who, no matter how well educated and integrated in British society, refused to abandon the essence of their own culture right down to the level of the troops themselves, the Scots Guard. They too served the Crown well, first making their appearance in England, as private bodyguards of Charles I of England and Scotland. For the Crown, It meant the Scottish could do all the dirty work in dealing with the natives in the New World. Nobody knows how to deal with a people with a clan system like a people with a clan system. Intermarriage would later prove useful in both the East and West Indies. The side effect was less control over who was teaching what kind of Anglish (English, Scots, or Hiberno-English), and where. In plantation society in America, it meant that Scots, Hiberno-English, and Welsh English, each with their local influences spread to the African and South Asian (we often forget about them) slaves, who naturally added their own flavor. Oh, but there are so many avenues to be explored!

Simple Phrases in Several Germanic Languages/Dialects

SC = Scots, EB = AAVE, and OE = Old English. I will also throw in Danish (DK) for a Northern Germanic example, mainly because it/Norse, had an influence on the development of English Go Vikings!!! No, I don’t mean the team, but the newly discovered distant ancestors of my equally newly discovered not so distant ones.


OE = þis is gōd newes, end/ond/and þæt is/biþ gōd newes

EN = this is good news, and that is good news!

EB = dis iz geud nuws, en (d)æt iz geud nuws!

SC = this is guid news, en that is guid news!

FY = dit is goed nijs, en dat is goede nijs

NL = dit is goed nieuws, en dat is goed nieuws*

HD = Das sind gute Nachrichten, und das sind gute Nachrichten** DK = Det er gode nyheder, og det er gode nyheder**

Compare Irish Gaelic (IGE) African American Vernacular English (AAVE) General English (GE)

Present continuous:

IGA – Táim (tá mé) ag dul (“I am going” literally “I am at going”)

EB – Ah’m goin (in AAVE the 1st person singular always has “to be” conjugated full or contracted)

GE – I am going (so far so good…)


IGA – Bím (bí mé) ag dul (Hiberno-English “I do be going”)

EB – Ah be goin (“do” is added for emphasis or to answer the negative question, or statement giving the same syntax as in Hiberno-English)

GE -I go (simple present has to serve double function, and adverb of frequency is added for disambiguation, I go often/sometimes/regularly/daily/weekly/etc.… “do” can also be added for emphasis)

Luckily for the Bretons, or perhaps unluckily, they escaped to the mainland centuries earlier, during the Anglo-Saxon Period.

Speaking of the mainland, the problem with English Speakers tends to be that we (not really me, that is why I am going on about it) forget that our language (and its dialects) is not an isolate, island mentality spread around the globe, but a Continental Lowland Germanic variety of the Western Germanic Branch of the Germanic Language Family. Remember those Angles, Saxons Jutes, and the formerly left-out Frisians; the first important waves arrived by invitation when the Island, formerly known as Alba (Now the name for Scotland in Gaelic tongues), was under Roman Rule, partially as mercenaries to fight off the people who were not so accepting of Roman assimilation. However, they kept coming, and then when the Romans left they invited their cousins… (I am just simplifying here).

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