Graduation Year

2017

Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

Linguistics

Reader 1

Carmen Fought

Reader 2

Nicole Holliday

Reader 3

Cindy Forster

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Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.

Rights Information

© 2017 Laura Casaregola

Abstract

Sociolinguistics studies on language perception have shown that listeners form different attitudes toward speakers based on the speakers’ language varieties (Lukes and Wiley 1996, Lippi-Green 2012, Thompson, Craig, and Washington 2004). Just from hearing a voice, listeners form opinions, and these opinions are often informed by societal archetypes, as well as societal stereotypes. For example, Standard American English is generally perceived with more prestige and respect than non-standard varieties. Unfavorable perceptions of non-standard varieties can, and in many documented cases does, lead to inequitable and/or discriminatory situations (Baugh 2003). Non-standard and standard varieties are found in language use in music. The emergence of the Internet and music playing platforms, as well as more diverse musicians getting mainstream radio play and pay, leads to non-standard varieties reaching new listeners in a new format. In this thesis, I survey the types of music to which people listen, and their perceptions to speakers of Standard American English, Southern American English, and African American English to investigate how the music people listen to connects to their language attitudes. The results show that overall, listeners of any genre have more favorable attitudes toward Standard American English; and, that listeners of rap and/or hip-hop have more favorable attitudes than other groups of listeners toward the non-standard varieties.

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