This article presents an examination of identity construction in the narrative discourse of five African American residents of Washington, D.C., drawn from the CORAAL:DCB component of the Corpus of Regional African American Language. We explore how referring terms, place deixis, negation, evaluative language, and hedges are used to shape shifting, multifaceted identities constructed in terms of “connectedness” to versus disconnection from (1) D.C. African American identity, (2) neighborhood identities within D.C., (3) D.C. and its neighborhoods prior to and during processes of gentrification, and (4) fellow D.C. residents based on their stances toward gentrification and incoming gentrifiers. The analysis demonstrates that D.C. residents’ relationships toward gentrification involve more than a simple “us” versus “them” dichotomy, or linear sense of decreasing neighborhood connectedness, as residents position themselves in discourse as simultaneously connected to and distant from home neighborhoods and take up stances toward gentrification that are both negative and positive. Further, the analysis demonstrates the utility of CORAAL:DCB for sociolinguistic investigations across a full range of linguistic levels.
Shaping “Connected” versus “Disconnected” Identities in Narrative Discourse in D.C. African American Language
MINNIE QUARTEY is a sociolinguistics doctoral candidate at Georgetown University, and her dissertation explores how speakers of African American Language construct multifaceted local identities through storytelling as well as analyzes vowel centralization in the Washington, D.C., area. She serves as project coordinator for the Language and Communication in Washington, D.C. project (LCDC), her research has been featured on the front page of the Washington Post, and she has been a guest on NPR. In addition to studying identity construction, she also has an interest in linguistic diversity and awareness and its effects in the classroom and the boardroom. Email: email@example.com.
NATALIE SCHILLING is professor of linguistics at Georgetown University. She specializes in the study of language variation and change in American English dialects, including regional, ethnic, and gender-based language varieties. She is head of the Language and Communication in Washington, D.C. (LCDC) sociolinguistic research project. She is the author of Sociolinguistic Fieldwork (Cambridge University Press, 2013), coauthor of American English: Dialects and Variation (Wiley-Blackwell, 3rd ed., 2016), and coeditor of The Handbook of Language Variation and Change (Wiley-Blackwell, 2nd ed., 2013). She is also an associate editor of the Journal of Sociolinguistics and co-editor-in-chief of Language and Linguistics Compass. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Minnie Quartey, Natalie Schilling; Shaping “Connected” versus “Disconnected” Identities in Narrative Discourse in D.C. African American Language. American Speech 1 February 2019; 94 (1): 131–147. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00031283-7322000
Download citation file: