An analysis of language and racialization in film or television

Your data source: A show or film of your choice in which language and racialized identities play a prominent role

Your goal: Through an analysis of an individual character’s speech, you will explore the following questions…

What aspects of the talker’s identity are constructed through their language use? Describe how the individual’s identity is racialized and what role language plays in the construction of this identity. I recommend including some basic information on the talker’s background in your methods section (drawing on your knowledge of the show or film or a brief summary available). This should not be the majority of your discussion, since the goal is to analyze language, not provide biography of your character. Nota Bene: Characters who do not speak the dominant language of the show or who speak a language you do not may not be good candidates for this exercise since you will need to make observations about the variations in their speech.
How do you judge the authenticity of the features employed by this character or talker? Is there any evidence that these features are realistically used by real world individuals who share the talker’s background, age, gender, and ethnic identity?
How do your findings relate to the models of ethnolects, identity, and ethnolinguistic repertoire? Strong papers will begin with a motivation that comes from the literature we have read and theories we have discussed to frame the larger topic of language as it relates to racialization.
What you will do:

Introduce the relevance of language to racialization and identity. I expect you to motivate your mini-study using our readings and discussion about race, racialization, ethnolects, ethnolinguistic repertoire and language, in general.
Select examples of an individual’s speech or dialogue between characters that demonstrates the link between language, racialization and identity (you may use videos from Netflix, YouTube or another platform that you have access to). I recommend selecting about 5-7 minutes of material so that you have a nice dataset to analyze.
Transcribe the talker’s speech. You will create an orthographic transcription of your speech samples. You should focus on presenting the content and form of your selected talker’s speech. You may also adopt transcription conventions and include a key at the top of your transcripts (you can Google search “transcription conventions” for additional examples). It’s up to you if you want to transcribe the interlocutors’ speech – this is not required.
Notate. Notate your transcripts for features of the talker’s speech that you observe to be related to the portrayal of a racialized identity. You should identify at least 3 linguistic features that re-occur in their speech. This task can be accomplished with no prior research on specific features you may expect your talker to use, although it may be easier to have some linguistic variables in mind before you begin. For examples of features of African American English, you should reference papers like Rickford and McNair-Knox (1994) and Hay et al. (1999). I suggest making a first pass where you consider a range of variables – phonetic, prosodic, discursive, and morphosyntactic – whatever jumps out at you. Your final transcripts can note only the 3 variables you decide to analyze, but you are free to note additional features that you do not quantify.
Note additional features of the talker’s style or sociocultural practices that you found interesting, if applicable. Here, you have an opportunity to go beyond the analysis of speech and talk about features that work in tandem with it like adornment, fashion, patterns of consumption, food, home décor, etc. This should supplement your linguistic analysis, not act as the primary part of your paper.
Analyze. After considering the transcriptions of features, describe how these features link the the character’s overall identity and whether/how these linguistic practices perpetuate stereotypes, stigma, white supremacy, or other ideologies. Here, your insights should be drawing on the literature and concepts you introduced at the start of your paper.
Write your research up in a paper. The paper should be about 2-3 pages (double-spaced with 11 or 12-point font and 1 inch margins) and should be submitted on Canvas as a .doc(x) or PDF by the due date. The page limit is suggested; going over by a little is fine, but you should not go dramatically beyond the recommended page limit. Append your transcripts (not counted in the page-limit) to your paper and include links to the clips you analyzed.