Gilbers on AAE and hip-hop Friday, 12/1 at 10 in ILC N451

Steven Gilbers of the University of Groningen will be giving a special talk on: “Regional variation in African American English and hip-hop. Why 2Pac’s accent changed over time and why Snoop Dogg and Jay Z have different rap flows”. It will be held Friday Dec. 1 at 10 am in ILC N451. All are welcome! An abstract and bio are below.

Abstract. Relatively little is yet known about how African American English (AAE) regiolects differ from each other. However, we do know regional variation in AAE is salient to many of its speakers, especially those involved with hip-hop culture, in which great importance is assigned to regional identity, and regional accents are a key means of expressing regional identity and affiliation (Morgan, 2001). In hip-hop music, regional variation can also be observed, with different regions’ rap performances being characterized by distinct “flows” (i.e. rhythmic and melodic delivery), possibly due to certain language varieties being better suited for certain flows (Kautny, 2015).

The observations above inform Steven Gilbers’s dissertational research on hip-hop linguistics. During his upcoming talk at UMass Amherst, he will discuss how East Coast and West Coast AAE differ from each other in terms of vowel duration and prosody as well as how these differences are reflected in the rap styles associated with both regions. Moreover, he will discuss how Tupac “2Pac” Shakur – a native New Yorker – acquired a West Coast AAE accent, and how his second dialect acquisition trajectory was influenced by his role in the East Coast/West Coast hip-hop war of the 1990s.

Bio. Steven Gilbers (26) is a hip-hop linguist from Groningen, the Netherlands. His research interests include African American English, hip-hop music, and the sociolinguistics of hip-hop culture. Steven is in the process of writing his doctoral dissertation on second African American English dialect acquisition in relation to regional hip-hop identity at the University of Groningen. Supported by a Fulbright grant, he is currently visiting the United States to conduct an African American English accent perception experiment in New York City and Los Angeles. Aside from his academic endeavors, Steven is also a hip-hop musician, spoken word artist, and co-host of the Kick Knowledge podcast.

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