The Center for Study of African American Language Hosts Summer Dialect Research Project

Back Row Left to Right: Kaelyn Conley (Jackson State University), Azana Green (Duke University), Isaiah Barnett (Jackson State University), Tyrelia Sawyer-Mercer (North Carolina A&T University)  Front Row Left to Right: Harmony Donald (Jackson State University), Fadjy St. Fleur (UMass Amherst), Ta’Mia King (North Carolina A&T University)  Not shown: Chawne Harris (Jackson State University)
Back Row Left to Right: Kaelyn Conley (Jackson State University), Azana Green (Duke University), Isaiah Barnett (Jackson State University), Tyrelia Sawyer-Mercer (North Carolina A&T University) Front Row Left to Right: Harmony Donald (Jackson State University), Fadjy St. Fleur (UMass Amherst), Ta’Mia King (North Carolina A&T University) Not shown: Chawne Harris (Jackson State University)

The Center for the Study of African American Language recently hosted the Summer Dialect Research Project (SDRP).

Lisa Green, professor of linguistics, and Brendan O’Connor, assistant professor in the College of Information and Computer Sciences, co-directed the event.

Eight undergraduates, including UMass Amherst student Fadjy St. Fleur, participated in the event, where topics such as Black Twitter, language and ethnic identification and representation of blackness through language in films were addressed.  

The participants attended mini-lectures and workshops on topics ranging from theoretical and experimental approaches in linguistics to practical application. UMass doctoral graduate, J. Michael Terry, now associate professor of linguistics at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill presented his research on the ways second graders in African American Language (AAL) speech communities process math word problems written in classroom English, which can differ substantially from their native AAL variety.

One of the goals of SDRP is to increase the number of undergraduates, particularly those from underrepresented minority groups, who pursue graduate research in language-related fields. Department of linguistics graduate students Anissa Neal and Ayana Whitmal engaged the participants in discussions about graduate school in general and their graduate work on AAL in particular.