Oxford Dictionary of African American English (ODAAE)

Editor-in-Chief: Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

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Oxford Languages, a division of Oxford University Press and publisher of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), and Harvard University’s Hutchins Center for African & African American Research are delighted to announce the launch of a three-year research project, whose aim is to compile the Oxford Dictionary of African American English (ODAAE). The project is funded in part by grants from the Mellon and Wagner Foundations.

African American English, with its roots in African languages and creoles, has been a major influence on the development of English vocabulary, particularly in the 20th and 21st centuries. It has long contributed full categories of words and phrases that have had a profound impact on the way that English is used in the United States and worldwide.

Working in collaboration with the editorial unit of the OED and supported by an advisory board of leading scholars on African American language and culture, the ODAAE is being compiled and edited by a team of researchers and editors at Oxford University Press and the Hutchins Center, spearheaded by Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Director of the Center and Alphonse Fletcher University Professor at Harvard. Through a combination of detailed scholarly research and an outreach program soliciting community contributions, the team will endeavor to record the most comprehensive, accurate and up-to-date picture of African American English to date.

Alongside meaning, pronunciation, spelling, usage, and history, each entry will be illustrated by quotations taken from real examples of language in use. This will serve to acknowledge the contributions of African-American writers, thinkers, and artists, as well as everyday African Americans, to the evolution of the English lexicon. Evidence will be gathered from such diverse sources as novels, academic research papers, newspapers and magazines, song lyrics, recipes, social media, and more.