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.