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Grammar Quirks: Charlotte Nicole Davis on the Importance of Recognizing AAVE

Charlotte Nicole Davis, author of "The Sisters of Reckoning," discusses the embarrassing word she can't spell (hint: it's in this intro) and why it's important to include more AAVE in the dictionary. 

By
Charlotte Nicole Davis, Writing for
2-minute read

Grammar Girl: What’s your favorite word and why?

Charlotte Nicole Davis: I’ve always loved the word “devour.” It’s just so visceral.

GG: What’s a word you dislike (either because it’s overused or misused) and why?

CND: I can’t think of any words that feel overused, but there are definitely words I think we aren’t using enough. Like, “rakish” is a fantastic word, let’s bring it back into rotation.

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GG: What word will you always misspell?

CND: It’s embarrassing, but, “embarrassing.”

GG: What word (or semblance of a word) would you like to see added to the dictionary? Why?

CND: I’d love to see more AAVE (African American Vernacular English) recognized by the dictionary. Not that it needs to be recognized to be “real,” but it does deserve that recognition.

GG: Any grammar pet peeves we should know about?

CND: I’m actually very laid back about grammar! As long as I understand what you’re trying to say, then that’s good enough for me.

GG: To what extent does grammar play a role in character development and voice?

CND: That’s a great question. Giving characters distinct speaking voices is a really fun and important part of the process. Very few people, in everyday conversation, speak with perfect, proper English. So I love really digging into my characters’ dialectical quirks, their favorite slang and curse words, and the ways in which different emotions affect what they say and how they say it.   

Giving characters distinct speaking voices is a really fun and important part of the process. Very few people, in everyday conversation, speak with perfect, proper English.

GG: Do you have a favorite quote or passage from an author you’d like to share?

CND: I love the poem “summer, somewhere,” by Danez Smith. It deals with Black boyhood and police brutality. There’s a great couple of lines that go, “history is what it is. it knows what it did./bad dog. bad blood. bad day to be a boy/color of a July well spent.”

GG: What grammar, wording, or punctuation problem did you struggle with this week?

CND: I really enjoy comma splices and can’t be convinced to let them go.