This study considers intraspeaker (style-related) variation and its links to both identity and authenticity in African American English (AAE) speech. It presents a case study of intraspeaker variation in one African American woman from Seattle, Washington, who maintains deep network connections with both African American and white speakers. We examine her variation in two showcase variables (ay-monophthongization; merger of pin-pen), drawing from data collected in conversations with speakers of different ethnicities, to examine the envelope of variation exhibited by this speaker. While her use of core AAE features is not categorical or high-frequency, she does display quantitative shifts in core AAE features that signal responses to interlocutor familiarity, interlocutor speech, and interlocutor ethnicity. The study supports the conclusion that higher-status African Americans can signal an authentic identity with low-frequency but stylized use of AAE forms and argues for a broader concept of AAE competence that takes into account the range of stylistic variation a speaker displays.
AFRICAN AMERICAN ENGLISH IN URBAN SEATTLE: ACCOMMODATION AND INTRASPEAKER VARIATION IN THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST
MICHAEL SCANLON, ALICIA BECKFORD WASSINK; AFRICAN AMERICAN ENGLISH IN URBAN SEATTLE: ACCOMMODATION AND INTRASPEAKER VARIATION IN THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST. American Speech 1 May 2010; 85 (2): 205–224. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00031283-2010-011
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