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University of Pennsylvania Working Papers in Linguistics

Abstract

This paper examines a group of white speakers in South Philadelphia who exhibit appropriation of African American Vernacular English /TH/-fronting. Speakers with the most antagonistic contact and most aggressive attitudes toward their African American neighbors show the highest rates of /TH/-fronting. This paper argues that appropriation of the African American Vernacular English (AAVE) ethnolect feature of /TH/-fronting has been reanalyzed as a marker of street smarts rather than as a marker of speakers’ affiliations with AAVE speakers.

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