Social Media & The Decontextualization and Appropriation of African-American Vernacular English

André Brock
Raj Smith

Access granted by social media has been used to decontextualize and appropriate linguistic cultural artifacts, specifically, African American Vernacular English (AAVE). The purpose of this research is to investigate how social media affords for the appropriation and decontextualization of AAVE, how this impacts AAVE users, and what can be done to mitigate this phenomenon. We were able to explore the impact of the digital appropriation of AAVE on AAVE users using a survey consisting of qualitative and quantitative questions. The responses indicated nuanced ideas pertaining to how appropriation mediated by technology impacts culture and user behaviors. These results are situated in the context of our literature review which establishes language as cultural capital and parallels the appropriation of AAVE in digital spaces to historical forms of appropriation stemming from the Jim Crow era. We are currently performing an interface analysis to identify and detail what aspects of Twitter afford for appropriation. We ultimately intend to use these findings to explore our remaining research questions in future work.


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