Influences of Social and Style Variables on Adult Usage of African American English Features PurposeIn this study, the authors examined the influences of selected social (gender, employment status, educational achievement level) and style variables (race of examiner, interview topic) on the production of African American English (AAE) by adults.MethodParticipants were 50 African American men and women, ages 20–30 years. The authors used Rapid and ... Article
Article  |   October 01, 2012
Influences of Social and Style Variables on Adult Usage of African American English Features
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Holly K. Craig
    University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
  • Jeffrey T. Grogger
    University of Chicago
  • Correspondence to Holly K. Craig: hkc@umich.edu
  • Editor: Janna Oetting
    Editor: Janna Oetting×
  • Associate Editor: Diane Loeb
    Associate Editor: Diane Loeb×
Article Information
Special Populations / Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / Language
Article   |   October 01, 2012
Influences of Social and Style Variables on Adult Usage of African American English Features
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, October 2012, Vol. 55, 1274-1288. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2012/11-0055)
History: Received February 28, 2011 , Accepted January 27, 2012
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, October 2012, Vol. 55, 1274-1288. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2012/11-0055)
History: Received February 28, 2011; Accepted January 27, 2012
Web of Science® Times Cited: 7

PurposeIn this study, the authors examined the influences of selected social (gender, employment status, educational achievement level) and style variables (race of examiner, interview topic) on the production of African American English (AAE) by adults.

MethodParticipants were 50 African American men and women, ages 20–30 years. The authors used Rapid and Anonymous Survey (RAS) methods to collect responses to questions on informal situational and formal message-oriented topics in a short interview with an unacquainted interlocutor.

ResultsResults revealed strong systematic effects for academic achievement, but not gender or employment status. Most features were used less frequently by participants with higher educational levels, but sharp declines in the usage of 5 specific features distinguished the participants differing in educational achievement. Strong systematic style effects were found for the 2 types of questions, but not race of addressee. The features that were most commonly used across participants—copula absence, variable subject–verb agreement, and appositive pronouns—were also the features that showed the greatest style shifting.

ConclusionsThe findings lay a foundation with mature speakers for rate-based and feature inventory methods recently shown to be informative for the study of child AAE and demonstrate the benefits of the RAS.

Acknowledgments
Funding for this study was provided by NORC and by National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Grant R21HD065033. We thank Michael Reynolds, Carolyn Ward, Tammy Limberopoulos, and Stephanie Hensel for their invaluable input.
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