Category: englishenglish

Vernacular English


Vernacular English



• Language can differ in many ways, and even though
there are over 1 billion English speakers in the world,
it's likely everyone will use the language slightly
• This ppt is all about English vernaculars, an informal
variety of English. It will:
• Introduce vernacular languages
• Give an example of vernacular English
• Discuss the features of African American Vernacular
• Talk about the prejudices vernacular Englishes face
• Discuss the differences between language, dialect, and


Vernacular Language Definition
• A vernacular language is a speech variety
spoken locally between a group of
people, usually within a particular region.
• The term 'vernacular' came from
‘vernaculus’, which means ‘national’ or
‘domestic’ in Latin.


• Vernaculars are typically considered the
everyday language used by people within a
community and in informal situations.
Vernacular languages have their speech
patterns, grammar, vocabulary, and
pronunciation that have developed over
time and differ from the standard form.
Typically speaking, people speak
vernaculars far more than writing them


Standard Form of a Language
• Standard languages have undergone significant
regularisation and are often deemed the ‘correct’ way of
speaking and writing. They are usually used in formal and
official settings such as education, government, media,
law etc.
• Examples of standard languages are standard British
English and Standard American English.



• Vernacular Englishes are considered to be...




Which one is a common feature of African American
Vernacular English (AAVE)?
• A. Adding Extra Auxiliary Verbs
• B. Friquent contractions E.G. You All- Ya’ll


B. Friquent contractions E.G. You All- Ya’ll


Which one is a common feature of African American
Vernacular English (AAVE)?
• A. Friquent use of the present participle E.G. “ It’s
having a nice smell”.
• B. Double negatives


• B. Double negatives


Vernacular English
• We usually talk about vernacular English in
terms of register, meaning formal or informal
language. Vernaculars are the informal use of
a language and don’t have to abide by the
prescriptivist ‘rules’ of grammar, syntax,
spelling, etc.


• An approach to language which aims to set out rules and
standardise a language.
• People who take a prescriptivist approach to language
believe there is a ‘right’ and a ‘wrong’ to use a language.
The opposite of prescriptivism is descriptivism, which
emphasises how people use language in day-to-day life.


• Vernacular Englishes are simply the usual day-to-day language
people within a community use in their daily lives. This includes
the slang they use, the changes in pronunciation that may occur,
contractions (e.g. shortening ‘you all’ to y’all’), and different word
• Vernacular Englishes typically develop over time as people
change and develop the language to fit their needs. As
previously mentioned, vernacular languages are usually spoken,
rather than written. Few dictionaries dedicated to specific
vernacular exist, making it difficult to standardise, regulate, or
even accurately describe their features.
• It's important to note here that more than one vernacular English exists, and, like with
most aspects of language, it's best to think of vernaculars in a plural form!


African American Vernacular English (AAVE)
• African American Vernacular English (AAVE) is one of the most
well-known English vernaculars. AAVE is predominantly
spoken by Black Americans. It is believed to have originated in
the southern states of America in the 17th and 18th centuries.
At this time, the British had colonised the USA, and the
transatlantic slave trade was taking place, meaning thousands
of Africans were brought to the southern states of the USA and
forced into slavery. Here, the enslaved African people would
have been exposed to many different British dialects,
especially when working alongside indentured servants (poor
British and European people who worked for a minimal amount
of money). Over time, the language changed and developed
due to the influence of British dialects, creating the English
vernacular we now call AAVE.


• Today, AAVE has its own grammatical rules, lexicon,
and pronunciation and is a fully-fledged vernacular.
Some linguists state AAVE began life as a pidgin or
creole language (a basic mix of African languages)
created out of necessity when people from across
Africa were forced to communicate with speakers of
other languages during slavery. However, it is
generally more accepted that AAVE originated from the
British dialects found in the southern USA.


African American Vernacular English Features
• Use of double negatives, e.g. ‘Ain’t nobody got time.’
• Frequent removal of copula verbs (linking verbs), especially the
verb ‘to be’, e.g. ‘He goin’ shop.’ (Some people view this as ‘lazy’,
although we see this in Russian, Arabic, and Mandarin too!)
• Frequent contractions, e.g. ‘Y'all gotta go.’
• Use of the word ‘done’ to show the perfective aspect (an action
that’s completed). For example, standard English would read ‘He
has walked’ compared to AAVE ‘He done walked’
• ‘Th’ sounds (/θ and ð) are pronounced as a /d/ sound at the
beginning of a word. E.g. 'them' is pronounced as 'dem'.


African American Vernacular English examples
• First up, we have an excerpt from Angie Thomas' novel The
Hate U Give2 (which was also adapted into a film in 2018):
• 'Lord have mercy. My heart 'bout broke when I heard...Poor
Rosalie. All she going through and now this. Barbara said
Rosalie not sure how she gon' pay to bury him.'
• In this example, we see Mrs. Rooks' character use AAVE
which is made evident in the text through the contractions
such ('bout', and 'gon') as well as the removal of copula
verbs in the phrases ('All she going through...' and 'Rosalie
not sure...').


Vernacular English and Prejudice
• Vernacular Englishes are deemed non-standard varieties
of English as they differ from standard Englishes. As a
result, Vernacular Englishes are often deemed ‘incorrect’
or ‘low-prestige’ and are associated with being undereducated. However, not everyone agrees with this view,
and many linguists argue that vernaculars are complex
adaptations of a language unique to communities and
essential markers of individuals’ identities


• Peter Trudgill (2016), a linguist who studies vernacular
languages and dialects, stated that we shouldn’t
discriminate against individuals and communities
because of their accent, dialect or native language, as
this is linguistic prejudice.¹
• Linguistic prejudice is when people face bias
because of their speech.
• Many people who use vernacular Englishes, such as
AAVE, state that they feel discriminated against in
certain environments and often need to use standard
English in more formal situations, such as applying for


Language, Vernacular, or Dialect
• As you’re reading this, you might be wondering what the
difference between a language, a vernacular and a dialect
is. Well, the answer isn’t that simple.
• Let’s take AAVE as an example. It can be considered a
dialect, a sociolect (a social dialect), an ethnolect (an
ethnic dialect), a vernacular and, by some, a language
named ebonics.


• A language is a structured system used by humans to
communicate with each other.
• Languages differ worldwide, but they all have a structured
component (grammar) and a free component
(vocabulary). The English language has many varieties,
such as American English, Indian English, Nigerian
English, etc. There is no ‘correct’ or ‘wrong’ variety of
language. Within each language variety, there are
different dialects.


• A dialect is a language variety that differs from the standard form and is
spoken by a specific group of people
• The group of people are usually connected by a social factor, such as
geographical location, age, gender, occupation, or ethnicity.
• Dialects that emerge amongst people living in the same area are called
regional dialects.
• An example is Geordie, the dialect spoken in Newcastle and the surroundin
• Dialects that form due to other social factors, such as age, are called
sociolects. Dialects influenced by ethnic groups are called ethnolects.


• Just like dialects, they are informal and the everyday
language spoken by community members. However, they are
usually more established than most dialects and have their
own grammatical rules and generally agreed-upon
vocabulary, syntax, and pronunciation.
• How and when a dialect can be defined as a vernacular and
when a vernacular can be defined as a language isn’t so
clear and is usually politically motivated.
• ex: For example, well-known languages, such as Italian,
French, and Spanish started life as vernaculars but are now
considered languages.


• A vernacular language is a speech variety spoken locally
between a group of people, usually within a particular
• Vernacular languages are informal and unstandardised.
They are the everyday language spoken in a community.
• A well-known English vernacular is African American
Vernacular English (AAVE).
• African American Vernacular English has its own
grammatical rules, vocabulary, syntax, and pronunciation.
• Vernacular Englishes are often deemed 'incorrect' as
they differ from the standard form. However, many
linguists argue they aren't incorrect but a reflection of life.


Frequently Asked Questions about Vernacular English
• Q. What is a vernacular language?


• A vernacular language is a type of speech variety spoken
locally between a group of people within a particular


• Q. What is an example of vernacular English?


• African American Vernacular English (AAVE) is a good
example of vernacular English. AAVE is typically
spoken by black Americans and has its own set of
grammatical rules, vocabulary, syntax, and


• Q. What is African American Vernacular English?


• AAVE is part of the Vernacular English group Black
Americans use for informal and casual conversations.
This variety of English has its grammatical structures,
vocabulary, and accent features that distinguish it from
Standard English.


• Q. Are vernacular Engleshes correct?


• Some linguists state that vernacular Englishes are
'incorrect' because they differ from the standard form of
the language. However, other linguists, who take a
more descriptivist view on language, state they aren't
wrong, only different, and essential to people's daily


• Q. What is a vernacular English?


• An English vernacular is an informal and unstandardised
version of the English language. English vernaculars are
the everyday languages spoken in a community.
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