Sociolinguistics Lunch: Renee Blake (NYU)

OCT 10, 2014 | 2:00 PM TO 4:00 PM



The Graduate Center
365 Fifth Avenue




October 10, 2014: 2:00 PM-4:00 PM




Speaker: Renee Blake, NYU  
Title: A Sociolinguistic Perspective on the Classification of African Americans and Blacks in  Century  the 21st  
Abstract: This talk addresses the semantics of ethnicity/race and ethnic/racial categorization in  the United States and its role in sociolinguistic inquiry. The focus is on scholars’ ethnic/racial  coding of African American, which is used interchangeably with the label Black. While there  has been a growing body of research that shows African American English (AAE) varies both  regionally and across social lines (e.g., age, gender, class), slow to follow is work addressing  variation within the ethnic/racial category African American/Black in and of itself. By studying  the sociolinguistic behavior of other black ethnics (e.g., non-African Americans) in the U.S.,  we can illuminate the ways in which individuals from these communities use and manipulate  language, consciously and unconsciously, as a resource to mark their identification relative to  their African American-identified counterparts.  In this talk, I argue that the field of sociolinguists and related fields are at a crossroads in terms  of how we categorize people within ethnically diverse African American/Black communities in  the United States. And furthermore, within their analyses, language scholars should go beyond  social categories defined in the national imagination and incorporate the nuances of how groups  and individuals understand themselves without the imposition of a national ideology of race.