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Gender and /ai/ monophthongization in African American English

Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the Berkeley Linguistics Society
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  • Linguistics


Thomas_edited_12_28_2012 Gender and /a!/ monophthongization in African American English Author(s): Julia Thomas Proceedings of the 37th Annual Meeting of the Berkeley Linguistics Society (2013), pp. 449-463 Editors: Chundra Cathcart, I-Hsuan Chen, Greg Finley, Shinae Kang, Clare S. Sandy, and Elise Stickles Please contact BLS regarding any further use of this work. BLS retains copyright for both print and screen forms of the publication. BLS may be contacted via The Annual Proceedings of the Berkeley Linguistics Society is published online via eLanguage, the Linguistic Society of America's digital publishing platform. *HQGHU DQG��Dܼ� 0RQRSKWKRQJL]DWLRQ LQ�$IULFDQ�$PHULFDQ�(QJOLVK1 JULIA THOMAS University of Chicago 1 Introduction 0RQRSKWKRQJL]DWLRQ of /a!/ in specific phonetic environments is widely recognized as a characteristic of AAE and Southern English, which differentiates these dialects from the Standard American English (SAE) spoken by White, middle-class speakers in Northern Cities (Bailey and Thomas 1998, Rogers 2000, Anderson 2002). In Northern cities, monophthongal /a!/ is used exclusively by African American speakers, and is therefore a marker of ethnic cultural heritage. It may be used as a positive in-group solidarity marker within the Black community, and speakers who identify with or are isolated within the Black community may be more likely to use the monophthongized variant (see Edwards 1992 and Rahman 2002). Seminal investigations on style and identity provide evidence that speakers deliberately employ different phonetic variants to convey social and stylistic information (Campbell-Kibler 2007, Podesva 2007, Eckert 1989, Labov 1966). Social pressure along with a speaker’s desire to foster a certain identity may lead him to use an AAE dialectal feature to a greater or lesser extent in different situations or with different interlocutors.

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