Cross-Dialectal Perceptual Experiences of Speech-Language Pathologists in Predominantly Caucasian American School Districts Purpose This study aimed to determine if the number and type of African American English (AAE) features that are spoken in sentences influence speech-language pathologists' (SLPs') judgments of (a) how noticeable the dialect is (dialect detectability) and (b) how understandable a speaker is to others (comprehensibility). Method Certified ... Research Article
Research Article  |   April 01, 2009
Cross-Dialectal Perceptual Experiences of Speech-Language Pathologists in Predominantly Caucasian American School Districts
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Gregory C. Robinson
    University of Arkansas at Little Rock and University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences
  • Ida J. Stockman
    Michigan State University, East Lansing
  • Contact author: Gregory Robinson, University of Arkansas at Little Rock, University of Arkansas Medical Sciences, Audiology and Speech Pathology Department, Little Rock, AR 72204. E-mail: gcrobinson@ualr.edu.
Article Information
Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / School-Based Settings / Research Articles
Research Article   |   April 01, 2009
Cross-Dialectal Perceptual Experiences of Speech-Language Pathologists in Predominantly Caucasian American School Districts
Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, April 2009, Vol. 40, 138-149. doi:10.1044/0161-1461(2008/07-0063)
History: Received August 10, 2007 , Accepted March 1, 2008
 
Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, April 2009, Vol. 40, 138-149. doi:10.1044/0161-1461(2008/07-0063)
History: Received August 10, 2007; Accepted March 1, 2008
Web of Science® Times Cited: 7

Purpose This study aimed to determine if the number and type of African American English (AAE) features that are spoken in sentences influence speech-language pathologists' (SLPs') judgments of (a) how noticeable the dialect is (dialect detectability) and (b) how understandable a speaker is to others (comprehensibility).

Method Certified SLPs with little conversational experience with AAE were recruited from predominantly Caucasian American school districts in Michigan. They listened to sentences that contained varying amounts and types of AAE phonological features. The SLPs rated the sentences on 5-point scales regarding dialect detectability and comprehensibility. The ratings for the different sentences were compared to determine how the variables contributed to the SLPs' judgments of AAE.

Results Both dialect detectability and comprehensibility ratings were affected by the number of AAE features that were included in the sentences. The types of AAE features consistently affected the comprehensibility ratings but less consistently affected the dialect detectability ratings.

Conclusion Multiple factors may affect SLPs' perceptions of AAE. The outcomes have both theoretical and practical implications.

Acknowledgments
This study would not have been possible without the generous support of several individuals. First, the project was supported by a Graduate Student Dissertation Completion Fellowship from Michigan State University. Furthermore, we would like to thank Dennis Preston, Peter Lapine, and Brad Rakerd for their assistance in designing the study and reviewing the work. Additionally, we would like to thank the following individuals for assisting in participant recruitment, stimulus construction, and data collection: Monica Clark-Robinson, Johanna Boult, Derrick Boult, Cheryl Granzo, Mary Jo Hidecker, and Diane Ogiela.
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