HIGH POINT, N.C., Jan. 20, 2009 – Gail Clements, instructor of English at High Point University, presented a paper at the Western Conference on Linguistics on Nov. 23 at the University of California – Davis campus.
Her paper, titled “Family or Other Social Network Link: Which is Most Relevant with the Copula Verb,” is a portion of her dissertation, which provides details about how social networks inform and maintain the way people speak, and the language choices that are made. Her specific focus in the study was the “be” verb and the various nonstandard uses of it by speakers.
“Social network links include kin, co-workers, neighbors, fellow church members and more,” says Clement. “Deciding with whom we as speakers will identify ourselves either reinforces or changes the way we speak. The ‘be’ verb is interesting in that it is used by many Southern white and African-American speakers in nonstandard ways with no social consequence to the speaker. Some of the nonstandard uses are commonplace and, therefore, somewhat accepted. Quite interesting are the numerous ways in which speakers with close ties to a certain social network use and reinforce others’ use of certain nonstandard variants. Speakers use these variants to identify themselves as belonging to a particular group of speakers. Researching what types of links exert the most control over speakers when making language choices is highly interesting and useful in terms of language study.”
At High Point University, every student receives an extraordinary education in a fun environment with caring people. HPU, located in the Piedmont Triad region of North Carolina, is a liberal arts institution with more than 3,400 undergraduate and graduate students from more than 50 countries and more than 40 states at campuses in High Point and Winston-Salem. It is ranked by US News and World Report No. 5 among comprehensive universities in the South and No. 1 in its category among up-and-coming schools. Forbes.com ranks HPU in the top 6 percent among “America’s Best Colleges.” The university offers 66 undergraduate majors, 40 undergraduate minors and seven graduate-degree majors. It is accredited by the Commission of Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, and is a member of the NCAA, Division I and the Big South Conference. Visit High Point University on the Web at .
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