Home Academia & Research ASHA Voices: Language and Identity—Shifting Away from a Deficit Perspective on African American English

ASHA Voices: Language and Identity—Shifting Away from a Deficit Perspective on African American English

by J.D. Gray
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In our second of two episodes in honor of Black History Month, we’re addressing African American English, or AAE.

AAE is a language variation. Maybe you’ve heard it called a dialect. It sounds different from Mainstream American English. It has its own rules and grammar, and it emerged from a long language tradition. But when AAE is not recognized, it can be misdiagnosed as a language disorder.


Read more from our guests:

Megan-Brette Hamilton: An Informed Lens on African American English
Dionna Latimer Hearn: Don’t Get It Twisted – Hear My Words

We explore the link between identity and language.

“I think we have a great understanding of identity when it comes to clothes we wear, hairstyle, hair texture, (and) region of the country we live in, right? We understand these identity things, but when it comes to language, we have this very flippant way of being like, ‘No, no, no. Just just change the way you speak.'” – Megan-Brette Hamilton

And, find out why our guests say the language variance is sometimes considered a taboo subject.

Read the transcript for this episode. 

Meet our guests:

  • Dionna Latimer-Hearn, educational consultant and co-founder/director of the REACT Initiative
  • Megan-Brette Hamilton, assistant professor, Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences, Auburn University
  • Yolanda Feimster Holt, associate professor, Department of Communications Sciences and Disorders, East Carolina University

To hear each episode as soon as it’s released, follow the ASHA Voices page on Leader Live or subscribe to the program with Apple PodcastsSpotify, or Google Play.

Questions or comments? Email us at podcast@asha.org. Or leave us a voicemail at 301-296-5804. We may include your comment in an upcoming episode.

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