Graduation Year


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Linguistics and Cognitive Science

Reader 1

Carmen Fought

Reader 2

Carlin Wing

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© 2019 Kaela A Fong


Sports play an important role in the culture of the United States as does language, so the choice to use non-Standard dialects in a nation that privileges the Standard and negatively judges dialectical differences, especially those spoken by mostly people of color, is not undertaken lightly. Because of this privileging of Standard American English, it is assumed that only professional African American athletes are allowed to keep their native dialect if it is African American English (AAE) and still be successful. However, this is complicated by the historical and present increased criticisms women face in both sport and language. To investigate this claim, a quantitative analysis of post-game interviews of five men and five women in the National Basketball Association and Women’s National Basketball Association, respectively, was conducted. The athletes were analyzed to see if they used dental stopping and be-leveling, two features of AAE. Four additional features of AAE were also investigated on an exploratory basis. Inter-gender variance was found among both genders. Across genders, women used the features of AAE studied an average of 30.6 percent less than men, demonstrating a clear gender difference in the usage of AAE. The results of this study illustrate disparities in women and men’s language use that could be a consequence of the inherent and historical sexism women must face in the realms of both sport and language.