Examining the Use of Spoken Dialect Indices With African American Children in the Southern United States Purpose To examine the utility of different dialect indices that have been used to characterize the Non-Mainstream American English (NMAE) dialect of African American children. The relationships among 4 popular dialect indices were examined and compared with the results of a standardized tool used to classify the language variation of ... Research Article
Research Article  |   August 01, 2014
Examining the Use of Spoken Dialect Indices With African American Children in the Southern United States
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • RaMonda Horton
    Florida State University, Tallahassee
  • Kenn Apel
    University of South Carolina, Columbia
  • Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.
    Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.×
  • Correspondence to RaMonda Horton: rhorton2@fsu.edu
  • Editor: Carol Scheffner Hammer
    Editor: Carol Scheffner Hammer×
  • Associate Editor: Nicole Terry
    Associate Editor: Nicole Terry×
Article Information
Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / Research Articles
Research Article   |   August 01, 2014
Examining the Use of Spoken Dialect Indices With African American Children in the Southern United States
American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, August 2014, Vol. 23, 448-460. doi:10.1044/2014_AJSLP-13-0028
History: Received March 15, 2013 , Revised July 23, 2013 , Accepted February 1, 2014
 
American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, August 2014, Vol. 23, 448-460. doi:10.1044/2014_AJSLP-13-0028
History: Received March 15, 2013; Revised July 23, 2013; Accepted February 1, 2014
Web of Science® Times Cited: 3

Purpose To examine the utility of different dialect indices that have been used to characterize the Non-Mainstream American English (NMAE) dialect of African American children. The relationships among 4 popular dialect indices were examined and compared with the results of a standardized tool used to classify the language variation of child speakers at 3 different grade levels.

Method The authors used listener judgment ratings, 2 dialect density measures obtained from a narrative sample, a standardized tool (Part 1 of the Diagnostic Evaluation of Language Variation—Screener Test [DELV–ST; Seymour, Roper, & deVilliers, 2003 ]), and dialect variation scores (DVAR) obtained from the DELV–ST to characterize 113 African American children's spoken production of NMAE.

Results Grade-level effects on NMAE varied depending on the index used to measure dialect production. All of the dialect indices under investigation were related to one another. DELV–ST classification group effects were present on all but 1 of the indices used to capture NMAE.

Conclusions Newer measures of NMAE, such as the DELV–ST and DVAR scores, are comparable to older measures such as dialect density measures and listener judgment ratings. Like listener judgment ratings, the DELV–ST and DVAR scores offer clinicians and researchers alike a quicker alternative to dialect density measures for confirming and quantifying the spoken production of NMAE dialect. The present findings confirm that, depending on the type of data collected and questions posed, researchers and clinicians alike are able to choose from multiple, valid, and reliable measures of non-mainstream dialect use.

Acknowledgments
This study was funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Institute for Education Sciences, Reading for Understanding Research Initiative Grant R305F100027. We thank Emily Diehm for her assistance in the coordination of the data collection process.
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