The actor in this Youtube comedy video seems to be imitating African American Vernacular English (AAVE). I wonder how successful he is.

The grammatical features seem to be pretty accurate:

  • y'all as second person plural pronoun
  • Where is x at? for Where is x?
  • You're done messed up for You have messed up

His intonation also appears to be a quite accurate imitation. But what about how he pronounces the student's names?

  • Jacqueline as [dʒeɪ'kwɔlɪn]
  • Blake as [bə'lɑkeɪ]
  • Denise as [di'naɪs]

These two seem too good to be true:

  • Aaron as [eɪ'ʔeɪrɒn]
  • *O'Shaughnessy [oʊʃeg'henesi]
  • 2
    The whole premise is that the substitute teacher is mispronouncing these names. I'm not sure I like the various subtexts in this sketch...
    – jogloran
    Oct 11, 2013 at 6:42

1 Answer 1


The sentences accurately represent one form of African American Vernacular English. The names, however, do not represent how any black Americans that I have ever met would render those names. The pronunciation of those names in the sketch is a satire on how some black Americans choose deliberately unusual names. The implication is that the substitute teacher is accustomed to non-standard names and does not know how to parse common names.

The subject of naming choices among African Americans is a rich subject for comedians that has been mined numerous times. It also holds interest for social scientists trying to understand those choices. I have heard and read both in past, but I am having trouble putting my hands on such a source at this moment.

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