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STREET-CONSCIOUS COPULA VARIATION IN THE HIP HOP NATION

STREET-CONSCIOUS COPULA VARIATION IN THE HIP HOP NATION In 1994 when hip hop artist Guru rapped about Black street speech— address some methodological considerations in the tabulation of copula absence in variationist studies. This exercise is interesting on comparative grounds alone, but it also raises some important questions: How conscious is control of grammatical features in language use? If there is conscious control of certain features, what purposes would this control serve to the speaker? With regard to the nature of language use in the African American community, what social forces direct speech up and down the linguistic continuum of (in)formality? THE SOCIOCULTURAL CONTEXT OF HIP HOP The richly varied and diverse speech acts and communicative practices of the HHN (see Smitherman 1997 and Alim forthcoming) can provide a rich source of data for sociolinguistic studies. My interest in HHNL has led me to examine its use within this community in the sociocultural context of the streets. I am a member of the Black History Museum research team in Philadelphia, which has conducted hundreds of tape-recorded ethnographic interviews with Hip Hop artists from around the nation (Spady and Eure 1991; Spady, Dupres, and Lee 1995; Spady, Lee, and Alim 1999). Our goals were manifold. Among them, http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png American Speech: A Quarterly of Linguistic Usage Duke University Press

STREET-CONSCIOUS COPULA VARIATION IN THE HIP HOP NATION

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Publisher
Duke University Press
Copyright
Copyright 2002 by American Dialect Society
ISSN
0003-1283
eISSN
1527-2133
DOI
10.1215/00031283-77-3-288
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

In 1994 when hip hop artist Guru rapped about Black street speech— address some methodological considerations in the tabulation of copula absence in variationist studies. This exercise is interesting on comparative grounds alone, but it also raises some important questions: How conscious is control of grammatical features in language use? If there is conscious control of certain features, what purposes would this control serve to the speaker? With regard to the nature of language use in the African American community, what social forces direct speech up and down the linguistic continuum of (in)formality? THE SOCIOCULTURAL CONTEXT OF HIP HOP The richly varied and diverse speech acts and communicative practices of the HHN (see Smitherman 1997 and Alim forthcoming) can provide a rich source of data for sociolinguistic studies. My interest in HHNL has led me to examine its use within this community in the sociocultural context of the streets. I am a member of the Black History Museum research team in Philadelphia, which has conducted hundreds of tape-recorded ethnographic interviews with Hip Hop artists from around the nation (Spady and Eure 1991; Spady, Dupres, and Lee 1995; Spady, Lee, and Alim 1999). Our goals were manifold. Among them,

Journal

American Speech: A Quarterly of Linguistic UsageDuke University Press

Published: Sep 1, 2002

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