Publication Date



Poster presented at the Boston University Conference on Child Language Development, Boston MA.


Analyses for the current paper explored the emergence of alternative syntactic formulations for reporting a question, using indirect questions ([asking] if he can go outside, or [asking] can he go outside) as opposed to direct questions (Can I go outside?). First, we establish which children in our sample may be considered AAE-speakers. Then we present the analogous AAE and MAE forms used by African-American (AA) and European-American (EurA) children with differing diagnostic and language-variation status at different ages. We observed a transition around age 8 toward greater convergence in contrastive-morphosyntax which coincided with greater divergence in the syntax for question reports. The proportion of children of both language groups who opted for Indirect questions increased from 4 to 10-12yrs. Among EurA-participants, the if-complementizer without inversion predominated, whereas among AA-children, third-person subjects with auxiliary-inversion predominated. A few AA-children with various AAE-density levels used if; but there was a clear divide by language variety between the alternative formulations. There was no statistical difference in DELV-NR standardized scores for perspective-shifters, regardless of the form used. These findings attest to the pragmatic appropriateness of these AAE-forms in a formal environment.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.