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Concept: American English


We report here trends in the usage of “mood” words, that is, words carrying emotional content, in 20th century English language books, using the data set provided by Google that includes word frequencies in roughly 4% of all books published up to the year 2008. We find evidence for distinct historical periods of positive and negative moods, underlain by a general decrease in the use of emotion-related words through time. Finally, we show that, in books, American English has become decidedly more “emotional” than British English in the last half-century, as a part of a more general increase of the stylistic divergence between the two variants of English language.

Concepts: Dialect, English language, Emotion, Received Pronunciation, Grammatical mood, American English, British English, Hiberno-English


It is known that some adult listeners have more sharply defined perceptual categories than others, and listeners with more precise auditory targets are also more precise in their production of contrasts. There is additionally evidence that children who have not yet mastered production of a contrast show diminished performance on perceptual measures of the same contrast. To date, however, few studies have investigated developmental perception-production relations using the fine-grained measures typical of adult studies. Existing evidence suggests that perception and production can be closely connected in development, but this relationship may break down as perception and articulation mature at different rates. This study evaluated perception and production of the English /r-w/ contrast in 40 typically-developing children aged 9-14. Perceptual sensitivity was measured with a logistic function fitted over responses in a forced-choice identification task using two synthetic 10-step continua from rake to wake. Participants also produced rhotic and non-rhotic words. Across participants, there was a significant correlation between perceptual acuity and rhoticity in production, although this effect was only observed for one of two continua tested. These results provide preliminary evidence compatible with the hypothesis that children with a more refined auditory target for a sound also produce that sound more accurately.

Concepts: Cognition, Sense, Information, Developmental psychology, English phonology, American English, Rhotic and non-rhotic accents, African American Vernacular English


African-American Vernacular English (AAVE) is systematic, rooted in history, and important as an identity marker and expressive resource for its speakers. In these respects, it resembles other vernacular or nonstandard varieties, like Cockney or Appalachian English. But like them, AAVE can trigger discrimination in the workplace, housing market, and schools. Understanding what shapes the relative use of AAVE vs. Standard American English (SAE) is important for policy and scientific reasons. This work presents, to our knowledge, the first experimental estimates of the effects of moving into lower-poverty neighborhoods on AAVE use. We use data on non-Hispanic African-American youth (n = 629) from a large-scale, randomized residential mobility experiment called Moving to Opportunity (MTO), which enrolled a sample of mostly minority families originally living in distressed public housing. Audio recordings of the youth were transcribed and coded for the use of five grammatical and five phonological AAVE features to construct a measure of the proportion of possible instances, or tokens, in which speakers use AAVE rather than SAE speech features. Random assignment to receive a housing voucher to move into a lower-poverty area (the intention-to-treat effect) led youth to live in neighborhoods (census tracts) with an 11 percentage point lower poverty rate on average over the next 10-15 y and reduced the share of AAVE tokens by ∼3 percentage points compared with the MTO control group youth. The MTO effect on AAVE use equals approximately half of the difference in AAVE frequency observed between youth whose parents have a high school diploma and those whose parents do not.

Concepts: African American, Percentage point, American English, Languages of the United States, Rhotic and non-rhotic accents, Southern American English, General American, African American Vernacular English


To document the efficacy of ultrasound biofeedback treatment for misarticulation of the North American English rhotic in children. Due to poor progress in the first cohort, a series of two closely related studies was conducted in place of a single study. The studies differed primarily in the nature of tongue shape targets (e.g. retroflex, bunched) cued during treatment.

Concepts: United States, English language, North America, Received Pronunciation, Canadian English, American English, North American English, Southern American English


We compared outcomes from 2 measures of language ability in children who displayed a range of dialect variation: 1 using features that do not contrast between mainstream American English (MAE) and nonmainstream dialects (NMAE), and 1 using contrastive features. We investigated how modified scoring procedures affected the diagnostic accuracy of the measure with contrastive features.

Concepts: Psychometrics, Linguistics, Language, Dialect, English language, German language, American English, British English


The goal of the current study was to examine the impact of dialect density on the growth of oral language and reading skills in a sample of African American English (AAE)-speaking children reared in urban communities.

Concepts: Dialect, English language, African American, German language, English American, American English, Languages of the United States, African American Vernacular English


The purpose of this tutorial is to discuss the use of curriculum-based language assessment (CBLA) with students who are English language learners and students who speak nonmainstream varieties of English, such as African American English.

Concepts: Linguistics, Dialect, English language, Puerto Rico, English American, American English, Languages of the United States, African American Vernacular English


This research explored mechanisms of vowel variation in African American English by comparing 2 geographically distant groups of African American and White American English speakers for participation in the African American Shift and the Southern Vowel Shift.

Concepts: United States, White American, English language, African American, Southern United States, Puerto Rico, American English, African American Vernacular English


Children’s ability to understand speakers with a wide range of dialects and accents is essential for efficient language development and communication in a global society. Here, the impact of regional dialect and foreign-accent variability on children’s speech understanding was evaluated in both quiet and noisy conditions. Five- to seven-year-old children ( n = 90) and adults ( n = 96) repeated sentences produced by three speakers with different accents-American English, British English, and Japanese-accented English-in quiet or noisy conditions. Adults had no difficulty understanding any speaker in quiet conditions. Their performance declined for the nonnative speaker with a moderate amount of noise; their performance only substantially declined for the British English speaker (i.e., below 93% correct) when their understanding of the American English speaker was also impeded. In contrast, although children showed accurate word recognition for the American and British English speakers in quiet conditions, they had difficulty understanding the nonnative speaker even under ideal listening conditions. With a moderate amount of noise, their perception of British English speech declined substantially and their ability to understand the nonnative speaker was particularly poor. These results suggest that although school-aged children can understand unfamiliar native dialects under ideal listening conditions, their ability to recognize words in these dialects may be highly susceptible to the influence of environmental degradation. Fully adult-like word identification for speakers with unfamiliar accents and dialects may exhibit a protracted developmental trajectory.

Concepts: Language, Dialect, English language, Commonwealth of Nations, American English, British English, Hiberno-English, American and British English differences


This study explored how typically developing 1st grade African American English (AAE) speakers differ from mainstream American English (MAE) speakers in the completion of 2 common phonological awareness tasks (rhyming and phoneme segmentation) when the stimulus items were consonant-vowel-consonant-consonant (CVCC) words and nonwords.

Concepts: United States, Phonology, Phonotactics, Phoneme, Phonetics, English language, American English, African American Vernacular English