Jessica Grieser

Assistant Professor, University of Tennessee

LSA 2016

African American English in the Construction of Intersectional Identity among Urban Middle Class African Americans

Short abstract: 

This study is a mixed-methods examination of topic-based style shifting among working and middle class African Americans residents of a gentrifying urban neighborhood. Using dialect density measures, it finds that while the densest topics are shared across the two groups, middle-class African Americans use AAE in ways different than their working class neighbors. It is primarily present in positive affective stancetaking about the neighborhood, as well as in talk in which sets up contrasts in such a way as the contrasts made and stances taken reinforce the speakers’ identities as African Americans and as longtime neighborhood residents.