Published online by Cambridge University Press: 16 October 2007
Comprehensive investigations of African-American Vernacular English (AAVE) have demonstrated that most features of AAVE reported in the sociolinguistic literature are consistently seen in nearly every African-American speech community in which vernacular speech has been documented. This article highlights quantitative regional differences in the speech produced by African-American children from three U.S. cities in an academic setting. In this analysis, 157 5- to 8-year-old African-American children in New Orleans, LA, Washington, DC, and Cleveland, OH imitated the sentences of a story presented in Standard American English (SAE) by teachers. The 15 sentences included many items that were possible mismatches between the child's vernacular and SAE. Afterwards, the children retold the story in their own words. Children's use of SAE and AAVE features in both tasks was analyzed. Higher rates of AAVE feature use occurred in New Orleans than in Cleveland or Washington, DC.