Files in this item



application/pdfMilo_Dodson.pdf (933kB)
(no description provided)PDF


Title:The word that makes you go hmmm: exploring the relation between African Americans’ linguistic ideologies, racial identity attitudes, and usage of the n-word
Author(s):Dodson, Milo L.
Director of Research:Neville, Helen A.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Neville, Helen A.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Greene, Jennifer; Tettegah, Sharon Y.; Lo, Adrienne S.
Department / Program:Educational Psychology
Discipline:Educational Psychology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
African American
racial identity
Cross Racial Identity Scale (CRIS)
linguistic ideologies
mixed methods
Abstract:Two-hundred-and-eighty-five African Americans completed a web-based survey to explore their linguistic ideologies (i.e., beliefs about socially embedded words), racial identity attitudes, and usage of the word nigga. The current study used a transformative-emancipatory mixed methods approach. Participants completed a survey with published measures, including the Cross Social Attitude Scale (CRIS; Vandiver et al., 2000), items from my previous research (Dodson, 2010), and open-ended questions. The data were integrated during analysis and combined during the presentation of the data in the results and discussion sections. In addition, individual interviews were conducted with philosopher and public intellectual Dr. Cornel West and hip-hop artist and actor Common to further develop key themes identified in the findings. Although the overwhelming majority of the participants (79.9%) used the word nigga at some point in the recent past, 41.5% believed that the word should not be used and half of the participants (50.0%) believed the word both should and should not be used. To examine within group differences in the use of the word nigga, I explored if participants’ endorsement of linguistic ideologies, or beliefs about socially coded language, were related to acceptance of the use of the word. I investigated five linguistic ideologies: Indexicality (i.e., the word nigga can have different meanings depending on the social situation or cultural context), Personalism (i.e., the deciding factor in determining the meaning for the word nigga comes from the beliefs and/or intentions of the speaker), Reshaping (i.e., the word nigga is a reshaping of the historical racial slur nigger), Baptismal (i.e., the word nigga can never be harmless because of its original meaning as a racial slur), and Performative (i.e., the word nigga should not be used since it may be emotionally harmful to those who hear it). The coding results for participants’ responses to the open-ended were consistent with the linguistic ideologies examined in this study. The context of the usage of the word nigga was also investigated. Specifically, I examined if the racial background of the speaker (Black or non-Black) and/or public/private settings influenced participants’ beliefs about appropriateness for the word nigga. Findings from hierarchical multiple regressions indicated linguistic ideologies accounted for a significant amount of variance in levels of acceptance for use of the word nigga in each of three contexts: (1) used among Black individuals, (2) used among non-Black individuals, and (3) used in public spaces. Reshaping ideology (i.e., the word nigga is a reshaping of the historical racial slur nigger) was a unique predictor of each of these contexts; greater endorsement of a Reshaping ideology was related to greater levels of acceptance of the use of the word nigga across each of the three contexts. Contrary to my hypothesis, participants’ racial identity attitudes were not related to level of endorsement of the word nigga in this study.
Issue Date:2014-09-16
Rights Information:Copyright 2014 Milo Dodson
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-09-16
Date Deposited:2014-08

This item appears in the following Collection(s)

Item Statistics