May 10, 2017
Global Studies Projects Examine Language, Education Policy
By Emily Stimmel
“She angry.” “He going to the store.” “We staying home.” An English teacher may itch to correct those sentences – but would they be right?
Dropping the copula—or conjugated “be” verb—is a common linguistic feature of African American Vernacular English (AAVE). Like all dialects, AAVE has consistent internal logic and grammatical complexity, but many educators still cling to outdated notions of “correct” English. And in some schools, students suffer because of it.
For the past semester, Carnegie Mellon University senior Gabrielle Rickstrew has examined how the use of AAVE impacts the quality of education students receive in the United States. Rickstrew was inspired by her experiences growing up biracial in a primarily white, middle class area.