Volume 29, Issue 1
  • ISSN 0172-8865
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9730
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This paper uses a multivariate analysis of 19th-century letters by semi-literate African American settlers in Liberia to investigate the frequency and distribution of the present perfect (PP) in earlier African American English (AAE). Despite descriptions elsewhere of the PP as marginal to AAE, it occurs here with great frequency, a finding attributed to the sensitivity of the form to genre differences. The linguistic factors conditioning choice between the PP and the preterite match those described for other varieties of English of that time period. This suggests that an English-like PP was part of the core grammar of the writers of these letters.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): Early African American English; letters; Liberia; present perfect; variation
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