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Saturday, October 12 • 1:40pm - 2:05pm
Bissell & Wolfram: Oppositional Identity and back vowel fronting in a triethnic context: The case of Lumbee English

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Oppositional Identity and back vowel fronting in a triethnic context: The case of Lumbee English

The correlation of back vowel fronting with ethnicity raises the issue of its indexical role in ethnolinguistic alignment. In the triethnic setting of Robeson County, NC, White speakers participate in cross-generational back vowel fronting, while African American speakers do not. Lumbee Indian speakers change over time. How do we explain the social motivation of this shift, and what does it indicate about Robeson County in terms of ethnic alignment and opposition? We hypothesize that younger Lumbee Indian speakers’ convergence with White speakers’ back vowel patterning indicates social distancing from African Americans, a critical opposition for their ethnolinguistic identity given their contested status as American Indians. Alignment with whites does not threaten their identity, whereas affiliation with Blacks challenges their disputed identity.. The study demonstrates how back vowel fronting can do the work of oppositional identity when ethnic alignment is contested.

Speakers
MB

Marie Bissell

Ohio State University
WW

Walt Wolfram

North Carolina State University


Saturday October 12, 2019 1:40pm - 2:05pm
EMU Cedar & Spruce
  • Session type Talk
  • Chair: Shelome Gooden


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