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Forthcoming African American English Dictionary

The Oxford University Press has released the first 10 words of its forthcoming African American English dictionary. The first batch of 1,000 definitions — words and phrases will be published by March 2025. The aim of the project is to highlight the Black community’s contributions to the English language.

Edited by Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr., the first batch of words was recently announced and includes words like “bussin,” “old school,” and “cakewalk” - words created or reinvented by Black people. The dictionary will exist as a living record well after March 2025 and the public will continue to be able to suggest entries for consideration even after the first edition is published. “Everybody has an urgent need for self-expression,” Gates said. “You need to be able to communicate what you feel and what you think to other people in your speech community. That is why we refashioned the English language.”

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