Bachelor of Arts
School or Department
Anthropology – Linguistics
Faculty Mentor Department
linguistics, sociolinguistics, linguistic appropriation, AAE, AAVE, CAT
Anthropological Linguistics and Sociolinguistics
White Australian hip-hop artist Iggy Azalea has been the subject of recent criticism forher use of African American English (AAE). Eberhardt and Freeman (2015) demonstratethat Iggy, a native speaker of Australian English who uses Australian English in all of herpublic speech, makes consistent and context-sensitive use of AAE throughout her entirediscography. In order to account for this unique behavior, Eberhardt and Freeman use thetheoretical notion of linguistic appropriation (Hill 2008) which describes the powerimbalance evident when outgroup members (e.g. Iggy) benefit from the use of certainvarieties of speech that ingroup members (e.g. speakers of AAE) are stigmatized forusing. Drawing on their research, this study explores Iggy’s linguistic patterns, examining
them through the lens of Communication Accommodation Theory, or CAT (Giles et al.1991). CAT explains speech adaptations made by individuals in varying contexts,particularly with regard to power dynamics and prestige in social settings. CAT arguesthat in any given speech interaction, individuals make choices designed to maximize,minimize, or maintain social distance between conversation participants, or interlocutors.This is achieved by communication techniques referred to as convergence and divergence.Convergence occurs when a speaker alters their speech to be more similar to that of aninterlocutor. In divergence, a speaker uses a different speech variety or style than that ofan interlocutor. This project expands the study of Iggy’s language use by analyzing it inthe theoretical framework of CAT as it interacts with linguistic appropriation. The projectadditionally takes into account data collected from a short survey taken by 30 UMstudents about their impressions of Iggy and AAE. Through an examination of Iggy’s language use, I hope not only to enhance our understandings of CommunicationAccommodation Theory and linguistic appropriation, but by doing so, to contribute tonational conversations of racial justice.
Honors College Research Project
Allen, Caroline JH, "Iggy Azalea’s Dialectal Disguise: A pursuit of power through speech and privilege" (2017). Undergraduate Theses and Professional Papers. 142.
© Copyright 2017 Caroline JH Allen