This book is a revised translation of my dissertation, "Morphologische und syntaktische Variablen im amerikanischen Early Black English," which was accepted by the University of Bamberg in 1981 and published in the same year by the Peter Lang Verlag, Frankfurt/Main and Bern. The outline of the book and most of the facts presented are identical with the original publication. The revision has concerned mainly the following points:
--The scholarship of the last six years (since the completion of the original study) has been taken into consideration, and reference to it has been inserted where appropriate.
--Partly because of the influence of some of these recent publications and partly because my own thinking and experience have developed further in the course of these years, some presentations and evaluations do not fully conform to those of the original version. These changes are fairly subtle in nature, however, and have not affected core points of the argumentation.
--The University of Alabama Press Committee and a few colleagues, notably Guy Bailey and Jeutonne Brewer (who are preparing detailed studies of these materials), made me aware of the existence of sound recordings that were made in the 1930s for the Archive of Folk Song and are comparable to the written source material of the original study, the Federal Writers' Project Slave Narratives. A significant portion of these recordings have been analyzed along the same lines as the original materials, and the results are included at the appropriate places of the text.
A number of friends and colleagues have contributed in various ways to the origin and publication of this book. Some of the reviewers of the German version ( Kurt Wächtler in English World-Wide 1982; Ursula Mantell-Oomen in Anglia 1983; Manfred Görlach in Zeitschrift für Dialektologie und Linguistik 1985; Wolf-Dietrich Bald in Amerikastudien / American Studies 1985; and Jeutonne Brewer in American Speech 1986) proposed that it should be made more widely accessible through a translation into English. Ron Butters suggested to me that an American publisher might be interested in printing an English version of it, and he established my contact with the University of Alabama Press. Malcolm M. MacDonald, the director of the Press, has actively promoted the project through his personal interest and support. A number of colleagues helped me by sending me unpublished papers of their own, namely Guy Bailey, Jeutonne Brewer, Mike Miller, Salikoko Mufwene, John Rickford, and Elizabeth Traugott. Mike Claridge and Trudie Calvert read the manuscript and suggested stylistic improvements. Finally, my friend John Cech, while working in the Bamberg military community, regularly brought me into contact with black colleagues of his, thus preventing me