Within American sociolinguistics there is a substantial body of research on race as a social variable that conditions language behavior, particularly with regard to black speakers of African American English (AAE) in contact with their white neighbors (e.g., Wolfram, 1971; Rickford, 1985; Myhill, 1986; Bailey, 2001; Cukor-Avila, 2001). Today, the communities that sociolinguists study are more multi-layered than ever, particularly in a metropolis like New York City, thus warranting more complex analyses of the interaction between race and language. Along these lines, Spears (1988) notes the sorely underestimated social and linguistic heterogeneity of the black population in the U.S., which needs to be considered in studies of the language of black speakers. This critique is addressed in work of Winer and Jack (1997), as well as Nero (2001), for example, on the use of Caribbean English in New York City. These two studies broaden our notions of the Englishes spoken in the United States by black people, particularly first generation immigrants. The current research goes one step further with an examination of the English spoken by children of black immigrants to New York City.
We focus on second generation Caribbean populations whose parents migrated from the English-speaking Caribbean to the United States, and who commonly refer to themselves as West Indians.