Measuring style shift: a quantitative analysis of African American English Public Deposited

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  • March 21, 2019
  • Renn, Jennifer
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Linguistics
  • This investigation considers how African American adolescents shift their speech styles based on context by examining the speech of 50 sixth-graders. It assesses the use of African American English structures in formal and informal peer contexts to determine which features are affected by the situation. The results reveal shifts in the overall inventory of structures, indicating that adolescents have a growing awareness of the role of situational context in adjusting their speech. Analyses also suggest that not all dialect features are implicated in shifting; thus, a revised inventory of features is proposed to quantify style shift. The goal was to arrive at a minimally adequate subset of features that effectively assesses speakers’ overall vernacular use as well as their shifting behavior across contexts. This subset measure is compared to other “all-encompassing” measures and the advantages and disadvantages of both methodologies are discussed.
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  • In Copyright
  • Terry, J. Michael
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Open access

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