Date of Award

Fall 2005

Degree Type

Thesis - Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Communication

First Advisor

Linville, Sue Ellen

Second Advisor

Moyle, Maura

Third Advisor

Long, Steven

Abstract

Very little is known about the relationship between acculturation and African American English (AAE) usage. To date, studies indicate that AAE usage is correlated with age, gender, socioeconomic status, and geographic region. Rickford (1999) states that grammatical and phonological features of AAE are used most often by younger speakers and,- lower- and working-class speakers in urban communities. Dialectal features are more evident in spontaneous speech and informal speaking contexts with peers. The decrease in the use of AAE as one increases in age speaks to the fact that AAE is a developmental system that changes with increasing age and linguistic maturity (Rickford, 1999; Wolfram, Adger, & Christian, 1999). Research also shows that males exhibit greater usage of AAE features in spontaneous speech than do females from the same linguistic community (Labov, 1990). The African American Acculturation Scale Revised (Landrine & Klonoff, 1996) provides a measure for determining level of acculturation into mainstream American society. For the purposes of this study, acculturation is defined as the adaptation of African Americans and their culture to a dominant mainstream American society. In the present study, a spontaneous speech sample from 10 African American males was recorded, transcribed, and analyzed to identify opportunities and actual occurrences of 20 pre-selected AAE dialect features. A correlation analysis was performed to determine the relationship between AAE usage and high/low levels of acculturation. Res~1ts suggest that there are no differences in the use of dialectal features between high and low acculturated African American males.

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