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2013 Master's Level Graduate Research Conference

Session I - Session II - Session III

The Linguistic Power of African-American Women

This presentation demonstrates the investigation of the linguistic equality (ability to participate in speech events with males with no social limitations) of African American women through a series of attitude studies among African-Americans in a downtown Buffalo, New York neighborhood. These studies have yielded results that point to idea of the community’s acceptance of women as verbally equal (as there is no speech event from which they are excluded due to their gender and there does not appear to be any topic about which they are prohibited from speaking.) The overall results propose the idea that these women may in fact be linguistically superior to their male counterparts in that they are viewed as 1) more “skilled” when participation in various speech events and 2) more verbally present within the community due to their historical role of being the stable member around whom the family unit is centered as well as the typically more authoritative figure in African-American households. If explored, these findings could point to evidence that the African-American community is indeed a matriarchal society and could also be the evidence of a culture in which the women are the dominant speakers as opposed to men (which is frequently the case.)

Presenter: Brianna Cornelius (SUNY Buffalo) --
Topic: Linguistics & Sociology - Panel
Location: 217 Hartwell
Time: 2:15 pm (Session III)