Dialect Variation of Copula and Auxiliary Verb BE: African American English–Speaking Children With and Without Gullah/Geechee Heritage Purpose We compared copula and auxiliary verb BE use by African American English–speaking children with and without a creole heritage, using Gullah/Geechee as the creole criterion, to determine if differences exist, the nature of the differences, and the impact of the differences on interpretations of ability. Method Data ... Research Article
Research Article  |   September 18, 2017
Dialect Variation of Copula and Auxiliary Verb BE: African American English–Speaking Children With and Without Gullah/Geechee Heritage
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Jessica R. Berry
    Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge
  • Janna B. Oetting
    Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge
  • Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.
    Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication. ×
  • Correspondence to Jessica R. Berry, who is now at the Speech Pathology and Audiology Program at South Carolina State University, SC: jrichard@scsu.edu
  • Editor: Sean Redmond
    Editor: Sean Redmond×
  • Associate Editor: Nicole Terry
    Associate Editor: Nicole Terry×
Article Information
Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   September 18, 2017
Dialect Variation of Copula and Auxiliary Verb BE: African American English–Speaking Children With and Without Gullah/Geechee Heritage
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, September 2017, Vol. 60, 2557-2568. doi:10.1044/2017_JSLHR-L-16-0120
History: Received March 25, 2016 , Revised August 12, 2016 , Accepted March 11, 2017
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, September 2017, Vol. 60, 2557-2568. doi:10.1044/2017_JSLHR-L-16-0120
History: Received March 25, 2016; Revised August 12, 2016; Accepted March 11, 2017

Purpose We compared copula and auxiliary verb BE use by African American English–speaking children with and without a creole heritage, using Gullah/Geechee as the creole criterion, to determine if differences exist, the nature of the differences, and the impact of the differences on interpretations of ability.

Method Data came from 38 children, aged 5 to 6 years (19 with Gullah/Geechee and 19 without Gullah/Geechee heritage). All were developing language typically, with groups matched on gender, maternal education, and, when possible, test scores. The children's productions of BE were elicited using a screener, probes, and language samples.

Results Although many similarities were documented, the 2 groups' BE systems differed in 3 ways: use of unique forms (i.e., ), unique use of shared forms (i.e., BEEN), and rates of use of shared forms (e.g., am, is, was/were, was for were). Although most noticeable in the language samples, differences surfaced across tasks and showed the potential to affect interpretations of ability.

Conclusions Dialect variation that is tied to children's creole heritage exists, involves 3 types of variation, and potentially affects interpretations of ability. Effects of a heritage language and different types of variation should be considered in research and clinical endeavors with African American English–speaking children.

Acknowledgments
Appreciation is extended to Kyomi Gregory, Ryan Lee-James, Andy Rivière, Christy Seidel, and Tina Villa who helped with data collection, and Kelly Gioe, Esther Kim, Stephanie Lorio, and Sarah Williams, who helped transcribe and code the data. We would also like to thank the teachers, families, and children who agreed to participate in the study. This research was supported by National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders Grant RO1DC009811 awarded to Janna B. Oetting.
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