Seminar paper from the year 2014 in the subject English Language and Literature Studies - Linguistics, grade: 1,0, University of Würzburg (Englische Sprachwissenschaft), course: Varieties of American English, language: English, abstract: The word "be" is the plainest and most basic element in the English language and its varieties. At the same time, it is probably the most essential. This paper will focus on this one essential item only and analyze its copulative functions in African American Vernacular English (AAVE). Within this variety the copula has been one of the most popular and well researched topics for several decades. Its popularity can be traced back to the dispute about the origin of African American English (AAE) itself. In the discussion whether AAE emerged as a creole or developed solely from English, the copula resembles one of the strongest arguments to support the creolists' hypothesis. Even the opposing dialectologists admit that the copula "cannot be identified as a legacy of English". This analysis will be presented in this paper in two steps, a theoretical one as well as a practical one. To begin with, paragraph two will provide a theoretical analysis of the copula and its functions. That includes its basic structure and the different appearances in different syntactic environments. Furthermore, those differences shall be explained consulting a theory by Labov, which eventually will enable us to create a structure on how to analyze copula environments and apply it to a contemporary example in paragraph three. This part will contain a practical research on the use of the copula during a comedy show by Dave Chappelle, presented on HBO. For that purpose, the findings will be presented, evaluated and compared to other data from the literature already discussed in the theoretical part, including studies on sociolinguistic aspects. This research again will help to draw a conclusion between the findings of recent literature and our own study; high
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