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ERIC Number: EJ721513
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2004
Pages: 14
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 44
ISSN: ISSN-1082-7161
The Intersection of Regional and Ethnic Identity: African American English in Appalachia
Mallinson, Christine; Childs, Becky
Journal of Appalachian Studies, v10 n1-2 p129-142 Spr-Fall 2004
The study of language in its social context and the role of language in society has developed over the past four decades into the field called sociolinguistics. In approaching language as a social activity, sociolinguists focus on discovering the specific patterns or social rules for talk; for example, they might examine how people manage their language in relation to a variety of social factors such as geographic isolation, demographic changes within speech communities, and group identity. Sociolinguists have been particularly interested in how language interacts with one important aspect of group identity: ethnic identity, especially with regard to African Americans. Many sociolinguists have devoted much work to exploring how African Americans construct and maintain the language variety known as African American English (AAE). These systematic studies have traditionally examined urban varieties of AAE, and they have primarily described ways in which this variety differs from comparable white varieties of English. Some research into AAE has compared white and black speech in a regional context; for example, Wolfram (1974) investigated the speech of whites and African Americans in Mississippi, and Wolfram, Thomas, and Green (2000) and Wolfram and Thomas (2002) have examined the speech of whites and African Americans in Hyde County, North Carolina. But questions still remain as to how African Americans in other rural communities might speak. Do other communities of rural African Americans align their speech with ethnic language norms, as was found in the Mississippi and Hyde County studies? Or are there different linguistic paths that rural African Americans can take in their dialect formation? This paper begins to investigate these questions. In this study, the authors problematize previous approaches that have focused predominantly on urban varieties of African American English by asking what the intersection of an ethnic dialect with a salient regional dialect--Appalachian English--might look like. The area chosen for this study is Texana, North Carolina, which is the largest black Appalachian community. The research performed in this study will explore the extent to which residents of the Texana community integrate their Appalachian and African American language patterns by using linguistic features characteristic of both dialects. (Contains 1 table, 1 figure, and 3 endnotes.)
Appalachian Studies Association, Marshall University, One John Marshall Drive, Huntington, WV 25755. Tel: 304-696-2904; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: North Carolina