Oxford to publish African-American English dictionary


The Oxford University Press has planned to publish in 2025 a dictionary that will reflect the history, significance and meaning of African-American language.

Oxford to publish African-American English dictionary
View of the Oxford American College dictionary taken in Washington on November 16, 2009. The New Oxford American Dictionary named "unfriend" -- as in deleting someone as a friend on a social network such as Facebook -- its word of the year on Monday. Oxford University Press USA, in a blog post, said "unfriend," a verb, had bested netbook, sexting, paywall, birther and death panel for the honor. "Unfriend has real lex-appeal," said Christine Lindberg, senior lexicographer for Oxford?s US dictionary program. AFP PHOTO/Nicholas KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

A notable historian, Henry Louis Gates Jr is the editor-in-chief of the proposed dictionary which will be produced from a three-year research project by Oxford English Dictionary and Harvard University’s Hutchins Center for African and African-American Research.

According to Gates on the project, “Every speaker of American English borrows heavily from words invented by African-Americans, whether they know it or not,” Gates said.

Speaking on the same project, a renowned linguist and professor, John Baugh told Atlanta Black Star that the dictionary will focus on the linguist legacy of enslaved Africans, adding that it hopes the publication will help eliminate some negative stereotypes about African-American vernacular.

“The most important thing is for this dictionary to provide accurate linguistic information about words that are uniquely aligned with the linguistic contributions and usages by slave descendants. But one of the things that I hope is an outcome of that academic enterprise is that it may further dispel some of the stereotypes,” Baugh said.

Baugh is the president of the Linguistic Society of America.

Baugh asserted that there is a false perception that people who speak African-American English are unintelligent, but noted that it is a accumulation of slave-descended which resulted from isolation and racism.

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