Black Americans have long contributed to the ways in which the English language is used, and now a new research project aims to compile the first Oxford Dictionary of African American English, reports NPR.
“Finally we will have a space that recognizes our language in a way that encompasses all the people within African-American language communities,” said Sonia Lanehart, a linguistics professor at the University of Arizona who grew up in the South. “If we look at some present words, we can think of something like woke and hip, cool, bad meaning good.”
The research project is a collaboration between Harvard University’s Hutchins Center for African and African American Research and Oxford University Press with Lanehart among the advising editors. Supported by grants from Mellon and Wagner foundations, the project is one of the most well funded of its kind. Researchers will pull from documents including flyers, books and newspapers. They will also draw from music, oral histories and social media.