Phonetic symbols are enclosed in square brackets, e.g. [a]; they indicate pronunciation of given sounds.
Phonemic symbols are enclosed in slant brackets, e.g. /a/; they are used to indicate contrasts in sound—thus, /a/ in bat and other words contrasts with /ε/ in bet and other words.
Where phonetic and phonemic symbols are not self-explanatory, their values are exemplified in keywords.
Linguistic variables, as defined by sociolinguistic investigators, are enclosed in round brackets, e.g. (a).
Citations of spelling forms are italicised; thus, h refers to a letter and not necessarily to any corresponding sound.
Abbreviations used are explained in the text. The main ones are:
Black English Vernacular
African American (Vernacular) English