New voices in the canon

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Literature in non-canonical Englishes is infused with distinct culture, history, and politics. Should the creative writer adhere strictly to traditional English literary norms, language use would seem artificial and unconvincing, and social nuances would be lost. This paper tests this hypothesis with African-American English (AAE) literature. One passage was scanned for AAE features, and examined for social nuances these features convey. European-American and African-American respondents received passages as written and with AAE features deleted, with follow-up questionnaires. Results indicate connections made between language used in the text and identification of character background and desire to read more by this author. The function of non-traditional linguistic elements is demonstrated, supporting their inclusion in pedagogical texts.


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