A Bibliography with Abstracts of works on
Attitudes to African American English
by Peter L. Patrick,
[All entries drawn from my AAE Bibliography]
This bibliography is a subset of the larger one I’ve compiled on African American English, and all the references here are also found there. It was initially developed in 2004 for an undergraduate course I teach at the University of Essex, Department of Language and Linguistics, on Creoles and Black Englishes. Special thanks go to Hal Schiffman’s webpage on language attitude bibliographies, and Renée Blake and Cecilia Cutler for returning the subject to my attention – and that of educators generally, I hope – in their fine article (2000).
I am primarily interested in works by linguists, or researchers working with linguists or with linguistic concepts. This list is both hampered and focused by that restriction, as there is undoubtedly a great deal of work by social psychologists, speech and education researchers, etc. which I don’t know about, and from which linguists might profit. If you know of this kind of work, and especially if you have bibliographies in these areas which specifically feature work on African American language attitudes, I’d like to hear from you with details. There’s also a lot of work which touches on language attitudes or AAE in a general way, and might have been included here, but I’ve tried to focus on their conjunction. E.g., important works on attitudes such as those (co-)authored by Howard Giles have rarely done original research on African American speech, so are excluded here.
Many of the works cited below are from the 1960s and 1970s, as a great deal of attention was paid by linguists to attitude testing then, especially in conjunction with education. It seems to me that much of the important work done at that time may have become undervalued by, or unavailable and unknown to, current researchers. (I acquired a lot of these works myself from older scholars clearing out their shelves!) Especially at that time, it was common to leave ethnic and racial identities out of titles, but rest assured that all the works below do importantly figure African American speech (often in conjunction with Mexican-American, Puerto Rican or other dialects). I have not been able to read all of these and other works on language attitudes, and would very much appreciate further references, abstracts, and information, especially of other works on the general topic of language attitudes which (despite rather general titles) importantly feature AAE.
Where possible below I have given abstracts, or created them from authors’ text, and will try to add more. In the larger AAE bibliography, these abstracts are linked to directly.
Carolyn Temple, Donna Christian, and Orlando
Author abstract: Americans display multiple and often
contradictory beliefs, perceptions, attitudes, and understandings about
language policy issues. The major
Abstract: This dissertation is discussed by supervisor David DeCamp in Shuy (1969:187, reference below), where DeCamp notes that it examines “differential reactions of white listener subjects to Negro speech”, working with “the Osgood semantic differential scale” and using as variables “a series of features which were widely recognized… as being the shibboleths of Black English”, presented “as minimal pairs on tape” with standard English forms. [Adapted from another document]
Author abstract: Constructs of teacher knowledge are
discussed as they relate to attitudes toward language variation in the
classroom, especially concerning dialects of Black English. The
Author abstract: Analyzes awareness of the Oakland, California, School Board’s resolution [OUSD 1996] concerning the status of Ebonics in its public schools, drawing on questionnaire data from 420 undergraduates at an ethnically diverse college in the southern US. Results indicate that student race, major, and choice in the 1996 presidential election increased their familiarity with Ebonics and the school board’s decision; Anglo and African American students demonstrated the greatest awareness. Respondents with knowledge of Ebonics generally showed an understanding of the school board’s decision. The presidential choice variable was a more significant determinant of student knowledge of Ebonics & the school board’s resolution than was the race variable. 5 Tables, 27 References.
Author abstract: Linguists and other social scientists
have identified school curriculum, teacher education, language policy and
testing as pedagogical domains in which to address issues and develop tools
that foster greater academic achievement of African American English-speaking
students, and nonstandard English speakers more
generally. This article focuses on the intersection between teachers’ attitudes
towards African American English and language policy, or lack thereof, at the
secondary school level. The analyses are based on questionnaires completed by
teachers from several public schools located in the
Author abstract: Response to Lisa M. Koch & Alan Gross (1997, same journal issue). While agreeing with Koch & Gross’s assertion that children’s & adults’ perceptions of Black English differ, it is argued that the difference occurs for similar, not conflicting reasons. The fact that creative Black English vocabulary was used in the examples heard by participants is said to have influenced the perceptions of the junior high school students, who would naturally, due to their age, view a speaker who uses creative vocabulary as being more contemporary & thus more appealing. In addition, the assumption that the subjects were fluent in both Black English & Standard English may be wrong. If subjects were more familiar with Black vernacular, they would tend to view the Black English speaker m ore positively based on that familiarity. Finally, Koch & Gross’s suggestion that the in-group for these adolescents is mainstream American culture rather than their peers is considered erroneous.
Di Giulio, R.C. 1973. Measuring teacher attitudes toward Black English: A pilot project.
Fraser, Bruce. 1973. Some ‘unexpected’ reactions to various
American-English dialects. In Roger W. Shuy and Ralph
W. Fasold, eds., Language attitudes: Current
trends and prospects, 28-35.
Green, Lisa J. 2002. “Approaches, attitudes and education.” In LJ Green, African American English: A linguistic introduction, pp. 216-244 (=Chap. 8).
Author abstract: The ‘matched guise’ technique was used to measure reactions of 120 black high school students towards taped voices of black persons when they speak Standard English (SE) and when they speak Black English (NNE). Subjects, speakers of NNE, listened to taped voices of bidialectal speakers, the two dialects of each speaker maximally separated on the tapes. Voices were rated on a semantic differential scale for 14 traits obtained from equivalent subjects. Subjects revealed an overwhelming preference for the SE guise. Interactions of dialect with speaker sex and student sex are discussed. Three explanations considered are: (1) influence of school test context; (2) adequacy of traits; and (3) that subjects may, indeed, accept values of the dominant culture regarding language standardization. Keywords: Nonstandard dialect; American Negro; semantic differential.
Author abstract: White public space is constructed through (1) intense monitoring of the speech of racialized populations such as Chicanos and Latinos and African Americans for signs of linguistic disorder, and (2) the invisibility of almost identical signs in the speech of whites, where language mixing, required for the expression of a highly valued type of colloquial persona, takes several forms. One such form, Mock Spanish, exhibits a complex semiotics. By direct indexicality, Mock Spanish presents speakers as possessing desirable personal qualities. By indirect indexicality, it reproduces highly negative racializing stereotypes of Chicanos and Latinos. In addition, it indirectly indexes ‘whiteness’ as an unmarked normative order. Mock Spanish is compared to white ‘crossover’ uses of African American English. The question of the potential for such usages to be reshaped to subvert the order of racial practices in discourse is briefly explored. 51 References. [Adapted from the source document]
Hoover, Mary. 1978. Community attitudes toward Black English. Language in Society 7(1): 65-87.
Hoover, Mary R., Faye McNair-Knox, S.A.R. Lewis, and R.L. Politzer. 1996. African American English
attitude measures for teachers. In R.L. Jones, ed., Handbook
of tests and measurements for Black populations, vol. I:
Hopper, Robert, and Frederick Williams. 1973. Speech characteristics and employability. Speech Monographs 40: 296-302.
Johnson, Fern L., and Richard Buttny. 1982. White listeners’ responses to ‘sounding black’ and ‘sounding white’: The effects of message content on judgments about language. Communication Monographs 49(1): 33-49.
R., D.S. Rayko and N. Love. 1979. The
perception and evaluation of job candidates with four different ethnic accents.
In H Giles, WP Robinson, and P Smith,
eds., Language and Social Psychology, 197-202.
Author abstract: African American children's perceptions of speakers of Black English vs speakers of Standard English are examined. Studies involving adult, middle-class African Americans have shown that as they move toward the mainstream of American culture, thei r perceptions of speakers of Black English become more negative. Based on previous studies that suggest African American children perceive Black English more positively than Standard English, it was hypothesized that they rate speakers of Black English higher on 24 personality characteristics than speakers of Standard English. Subjects (N= 53 female & 43 male African American junior high students) listened to audiotapes: one of an African American male speaking in Black English, the other of the same male speaking in Standard English. Responses indicated that subjects viewed the Black English speaker as more likable than the Standard English speaker. 4 Tables, 27 References. [Adapted from the source document]
Author abstract: The dynamics of pedagogy, ideology, and identity are discussed with regard to African American Vernacular English, noting that various ideologies are held about language, resulting in a variety of repercussions. It is suggested that the ideology of Standard English sets up an immediate inferior/superior dichotomy that puts the nonstandard varieties at instant disadvantage. The ideology of opportunity implies that the standard variety will benefit its speakers. The ideology of progress is related to ethnocentrism and racism, suggesting positive outcomes are race and culture related, rather than due to the failure of the educational system. It is concluded that the debate over standard vs. nonstandard or the question of separate language is not about language, but is about a community of speakers with a recognizable culture. 38 References.
Larimer, George S., E. David Beatty, and Alfonso C. Broadus. 1988. Indirect assessment of interracial prejudices. Journal of Black Psychology 14(2): 47-56.
Author abstract: Described are the attitudes of Black and White, M & F, MC & LC adolescents (N = 27) and preadolescents (N = 16) in response to tape-recorded samples of Standard English (SE) and Black English (BE). Using the matched guise technique, the BE version approximated the % of actual vs potential occurrence, as found in Wolfram’s (1969) Detroit study: non-occurrence of the copula, non-occurrence of the third person singular -Z, non-occurrence of the plural -Z, non-occurrence of the possessive -Z, and the occurrence of multiple negation. There was one occurrence of invariant be in the BE sample. Results indicate that BE is no longer considered the "shuffling speech of slavery" by either white or black grade school or high school students. Complicated aspects of social change over the past two decades have created a greater feeling of pride among the blacks and some changes in regard for blacks by whites. Children appear to reach the zenith of ethnic identity about the beginning of puberty. 6 Tables, 13 References. Keywords: Black English, attitudes, adolescent language, sociolinguistics, semantic differential.
1997. English with an accent. See especially Chap. 9: “The real
trouble with Black English,” 176-201. See also Chap 4: “Language ideology and
the language subordination model,” 63-73.
Author abstract: Perceptions
of Black English (Ebonics) vs marketplace English (as
opposed to Standard English, a term that invalidates other dialects of English
and the speakers of those dialects) by Black Americans are discussed. Studies
suggest black adults view marketplace English more positively than Black
English, whereas black youths tend to perceive Black English more positively.
The importance of marketplace English as a survival tool in the
Claudia. 1971. Language behavior in a Black urban
community. Chapter 2, “The status of Black English for
native speakers,” 38-86.
Author abstract: “…This chapter… discuss[es] the attitudes of speakers of Black English toward their
language and the influence these attitudes may have upon the formal
characteristics of the code itself. [The] major points are: native speaker attitudes
toward the code serve to produce a proliferation of referentially equivalent
variants at points where Standard English and Black English differ; positive
valuation of Black communicative style and the unifying function served by
Black English tend to preserve linguistic continuity.” [Adapted
from the source document] Comment: The first insider ethnographic exploration of African
American values and social functions of AAE, this ground-breaking study is
based on 15 months’ fieldwork in
Olsen, Lisa Taylor, Mary Lynn Steelman, M.D.
Author abstract: To study variation of behavioral stuttering among various cultures, verbal disfluency and accessory characteristics of 15 African American and 15 white male stutterers (N= 15 each, aged 8-12) were compared. In addition to a speaking attitude scale for each of the subjects, conversational and reading samples were gathered. Good intra- and inter-judge reliability was found in assessing the various tasks. Overall results revealed no statistically significant differences in verbal or visual disfluency behaviors on either the reading or conversation tasks between the African American and white groups of children. In addition, no differences in attitudes toward speaking situations was found between the two groups of children. Implications for the diagnosis and treatment of disfluent African American elementary school aged children are discussed. Specific suggestions are made for additional disfluency research with African American children. 1 Table, 18 References. [Adapted from the source document]
Payne, Kay, Joe Downing, and John Christopher Fleming. 2000. Speaking Ebonics in a professional context: The role of ethos/source credibility and perceived sociability of the speaker. Journal of Technical Writing and Communication 30(4): 367-383.
Author abstract: Within
a theoretical context of speech accommodation theory, this study follows
Lambert et al’s (1960) ‘matched guise’
technique in an experiment involving 72 African American students at a
Author abstract: Use of a nonstandard dialect is often enough information to determine a speaker’s ethnicity, and speakers may consequently suffer discrimination based on their speech. Presented here are findings of four experiments, revealing that housing discrimination based solely on telephone conversations occurs, dialect identification is possible using the word hello, and phonetic correlates of dialect can be discovered. In one experiment, several telephone surveys (N=989 calls) were conducted over a short time period, using standard and nonstandard dialects to inquire about housing from the same landlords in the San Francisco, California, area. Results demonstrate that landlords discriminate against prospective tenants on the basis of the sound of their voice during telephone conversations. Another experiment was conducted with untrained participants to confirm this ability; listeners identified the dialects significantly better than chance. Phonetic analysis reveals that phonetic variables potentially distinguish the dialects. 14 Tables, 3 Figures, 40 References. [Adapted from the source document]
Author abstract: The movement against Ebonics is examined,
focusing on the current anti-Ebonics legislation that has arisen as a result of
the debate over the
Rickford, John R. 1996. Attitudes
towards AAVE, and classroom implications and strategies. In Sandra Lee McKay and Nancy F. Hornberger,
eds., Sociolinguistics and language
John R. & Rickford, Russell J. 2000. Spoken Soul: The story of
Robinson, James Adolph. 1996. The relationship between personal characteristics and attitudes toward Black and White speakers of informal non-standard English. Western Journal of Black Studies 20(4): 211-220.
Author abstract: The relationship between cognitive complexity, racial belief, and the influence of a nonstandard dialect on listener reactions is investigated. Subjects (N=135 undergraduates) listened to an emotionally neutral tape recording of a black PhD candidate and then responded to questionnaires exploring subjects’ cognitive complexity, racial beliefs, and attitude toward the speaker. It is found that the perceived race of the speaker tended to elicit stereotypical responses from listeners, whether they were black or white. Contrary to the conclusions of previous research, this finding held for individuals with both low and high cognitive complexity. However, it is suggested that a person with high racial bias and greater cognitive complexity is more flexible and thus more susceptible to positive training and exposure to cultural differences than an individual with low cognitive complexity and high racial bias. Although this small sample size precludes its generalization to a heterogeneous population, its combining cognitive complexity and racial bias variables has produced a higher order construct that is a significant predictor of language attitudes. 3 Tables, 70 References. [Adapted from the source document]
Author abstract: Given that the Ebonics controversy,
resulting from the
Shuy, Roger W.
1969. Subjective judgments in sociolinguistic analysis.
In James E. Alatis, ed., Linguistics
and the teaching of Standard English to speakers of other languages or dialects.
Report of the 20th Annual Round Table meeting on Linguistics and
Language Studies. (Monograph series on Languages and
Linguistics, Vol. 22, 1969.)
Abstract: Reports results of a large-scale study of
racial identification from audio samples of
Shuy, Roger W., Joan C. Baratz and Walter Wolfram. 1969. Sociolinguistic factors in speech identification. National Institute of Mental Health Project Report No. MH 15048-01.
Described in abstract for Shuy & Williams 1973, below.
Roger W. and Frederick Williams. 1973. Stereotyped attitudes of
selected English dialect communities. In Roger W. Shuy
and Ralph W. Fasold, eds., Language attitudes:
Current trends and prospects, 85-96.
Author abstract: The controversy over Ebonics and the educational & social crises of black youths are discussed. In order to help black youth overcome their resistance to learning, it is recommended that black leaders (1) recognize that language is the foundation of individual and group identity construction, (2) teach Black English as it relates to black identity and heritage, and (3) critically examine the history, sociopolitical, and sociolinguistic uses of both Black and Standard English; this would form a basis for understanding what is considered standard and how it became the standard representative of all people in the US. It is hoped that this approach will provide black youths with an understanding of the differences between languages, and the value of language and culture, and thus, pride and confidence in themselves and their language.
Author abstract: Sixteen African Americans affiliated with a university participated in open-ended interviews exploring their experiential, atitudinal and descriptive responses to Black English Vernacular (BEV). The fields of sociolinguistics and education report complex and conrtadictory attitudes and research findings regarding this code. In addition, media representations of BEV have been misleading. This article investigates how these sources have influenced the attitudes of these African Americans over 20 years. We found few trends and little unanimity among our respondents. This finding is neither problematic nor surprising. African Americans do not comprise a monolithic group, acting, thinking and speaking as one. The results are summarized, and three issues that emerged from the interviews are discussed: problems with the label Black English Vernacular; the possibility that BEV was socially constructed; and the perception that BEV is a limited linguistic system.
Taylor, Orlando. 1973. Teachers’
attitudes toward Black English and nonstandard
English as measured by the language attitude scale. In Roger W. Shuy and Ralph W. Fasold, eds., Language
attitudes: Current trends and prospects, 174-201.
This effort “by the author to assess teachers’
attitudes on language differences… between teachers and students in schools
with substantial black and other minority group children… involved the
developed and administration of a Language Attitude Scale (LAS)… a Likert-type scaling instrument… designed to solicit data on
what teachers think about nonstandard and Black
English, and how (or if) this dialect should be used in the classroom.” 117
test items were selected “as a function of their ability to discriminate
teachers with positive Black English attitudes from those with negative Black
English attitudes… [based on] administration of 117
items to a group of 186 teachers from throughout the
Tucker, G.R. and W. E. Lambert. 1969. White and Negro listeners’ reactions to various American English dialects. Social Forces 47: 463-468. [Reprinted in JL Dillard, ed., Perspectives on Black English, 369-377.]
White, Michael J., Beverly J. Vandiver, Maria L. Becker, Belinda G. Overstreet, Linda E. Temple, Kelly L. Hagan and Emily P. Mandelbaum. 1998. African American evaluations of Black English and Standard American English. Journal of Black Psychology 24(1): 60-75.
Author abstract: African American undergraduates (N= 55)
at a midwestern [
The Child Language Research Project (at the Center for Communication Research, University of Texas, 1970-1972), led by Frederick Williams and colleagues, resulted in the following and other publications. Williams described the general project as somewhat distinct from the work of most sociolinguists, which “have placed the emphasis upon linguistic variables, or [language] features which are socially stratified, and how these variables may serve in attitudinal evaluations by listeners. In contrast, [our] aim… is to examine some aspects of the attitudinal processes presumed to operate when persons make such judgments… [as] the estimate of a speaker’s social status… My thesis is that, to varying degrees, [people] have a stereotyped set of attitudes about social dialects and their speakers, and these attitudes play a role in how a person perceives the cues in another person’s speech… [The special focus is on] determining and measuring attitudes that …teachers have reflected in their evaluations of children’s speech… operationally [defining] dialect stereotypes, and… speculati[ng] on how the dialect stereotypes appear to enter into the processes of speech evaluations… [People] tend to employ stereotyped sets of attitudes as anchor points for their evaluation of whatever is presented to them as a sample of a person’s speech.” (Williams 1973: 113, 126)
Whitehead, JL, and Leslie M Miller. 1972. Correspondence between evaluations of children’s speech and speech anticipated upon the basis of stereotype. Southern Speech Communications Journal 7(3): 375-386.
investigated attitudes among small groups of black and white teachers in
Williams, Frederick, JL Whitehead, and Leslie M Miller. 1971. Ethnic stereotyping and judgments of children’s speech. Speech Monographs 38: 166-170.
In this study, “videotaped images of children and audiotape samples of their speech [were]… switched such that, e.g., a standard English passage could be combined with the video image of a black child, and ratings of that combination compared with ratings when the same passage was paired with a white child.”
Williams, Frederick, JL Whitehead, and J Traupmann. 1971. Teachers’ evaluations of children’s speech. Speech Teacher 20: 247-254.
This study investigated attitudes
among groups of black, white and Mexican-American teachers in central
Williams, Frederick, JL Whitehead, and Leslie M Miller. 1972. Relations between language attitudes and teacher expectancy. American Educational Research Journal 9(2): 263-277.
This study, which also investigated
attitudes among groups of black, white and Mexican-American teachers in central
Williams, Frederick, and WA Shamo. 1972. Regional variation in teachers’ attitudes toward children’s language. Central States Speech Journal 23.
This study investigated attitudes
among groups of black and white teachers in
Wolfram, Walt. 1973. Objective and subjective parameters of
language assimilation among second-generation Puerto Ricans in
part of Wolfram’s study of Puerto Rican speakers in
Author abstract: The controversy surrounding the
1998. Black children are verbally deprived. In Laurie Bauer
& Peter Trudgill, eds., Language Myths.
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