Is Gen Z Lingo Just Butchered AAVE? How Internet Culture Contributes to Appropriation

Rae Cristal, Xin Liu, Jasmine Shao, Megan Ye

In their recent skit called “Gen Z Hospital,” SNL put on a show depicting the quirky lives of an average “zoomer”, filled with internet-related troubles. At one point, the distinctly white actress Heidi Gardner utters: “If he keeps leaving us on read, he’s gonna catch these hands on gang.” How did Gen Z lingo become so distinctly African American? One consequence of the internet age is the fast-spreading of linguistic style, forms and vernaculars, and African American Vernacular English (AAVE) seems to be one of the bigger targets of this phenomenon. A problem with this is that those who use AAVE do so inappropriately and with syntactic error. Taking a language that one does not speak and using it without appreciation and knowledge is the basis of appropriation, and many Gen Z speakers are engaging in this, often without realizing that, far more than just netspeak, the forms they are appropriating belong to a full-fledged community of speakers, with grammatical rules and cultural nuances.

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How We SEE Sign: The Interplay Between Sign Styles and Characteristics of Deaf Identity

Serena Gutridge, Ally Shirman, Jennifer Miyaki, Paige Escobar, Paulina Cuevas

Are the variations in sign language attributed to just a flick of the wrist? This study provides an analysis of the relationship between agents’ identities within the Deaf community and their signing style. In the United States, signers use American Sign Language (ASL) and Signed Exact English (SEE) on a continuum. These variants differ on a number of different levels concerning syntax (sentence structure), lexicon (words), and morphology (word parts with meaning). We investigated the relationship between different sociocultural factors (e.g. age, education, family) and a signer’s use of the linguistic features from these two variants (think: different choices of words or signs!) across various conversation topics related to identity. Our results suggest a correlation between using ASL features and the discussion of more personal topics, particularly those related to identity. On the other hand, SEE features were more prominent when discussing more mundane topics (e.g. errands, opinions on cars).

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“It’s just a game”: Toxic Triggers in the Competitive FPS Valorant

David Vuong, Emma Tosaya, Jane Heathcote, Kai Garcia

If you have ever played an online game, of any variety, chances are you have run into a toxic player or two. Online gaming has a long, deep rooted history of toxicity, often attributed to many games’ violent or competitive natures. However, toxicity can stem from a variety of sources, from racism to sexism to even a player’s enjoyment of toxic environments. This article aims to find the link between toxic nature and the online first-person shooter (FPS) Valorant. From the moment it was announced, Valorant was one of the most anticipated game releases of 2020. With its release coinciding with the COVID-19 quarantine, its popularity received a drastic boost, giving it a uniquely diverse player base – including a rising number of female FPS players. Focusing specifically on female-received toxicity, randomly selected interactions between players will be analyzed based on word choice and context to study in-game triggers for toxicity.

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Could you pass the salt-juseyo? A Comparison of Politeness Strategies in American English and Korean

Verania Amaton, Kimberly Maynard, YueYan Kong, Yi Wang

BTS. Gangnam Style. K-dramas. Korean culture has been steadily making its way into the United States’ mainstream culture leading to more contact between the cultures and languages. Any fan of Korean media knows that Korean has built-in formality tiers, a tricky part for native speakers of English to master when learning Korean. But does the English language really lack levels of formality just because they aren’t built into its grammar? In this study, we look into alternate ways of expressing politeness in both American English and Korean. By looking at how speakers of both languages make requests, refusals, and apologies, we were able to find what types of strategies they use outside of the expected word choice and grammar. Based on our data, there are more similarities than one might expect in terms of how speakers of these languages use politeness strategies. Continue reading to learn more about how we approached a cross-cultural comparison of the politeness strategies in the U.S. English and Korean!

Figure 1 and 2: The TV series posters for Never Have I Ever, an American show, and Inheritors, a Korean drama.

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THE GAY PONDER: Closeted Sapphic Celebrities Deciding How To Talk About Their Private Lives

Kayla Cardoso, Van Hofmaister, Jamie Jiang, Clarissa Sie, Rainey Williams

In 2016 a 1979 interview with Jodie Foster resurfaced on the internet and instantly took hold in the meme community. When asked about a potential boyfriend, Jodie smirks, licks her lips, and raises her eyebrows in a manner that gives the impression she knows something that her interviewer does not. The label [gay silence] was given to this instance and it has become a part of gay culture and  the LGBT community as an identifying feature of closeted individuals. With this in mind, our study takes a sociolinguistic approach to analyzing and examining the idea of a sapphic/lesbian code. Coded sapphic speech is not well studied in sociolinguistics, and while the community itself is able to identify markers of such, there has been little to no substantial research on identifying features present in sapphic language. In analyzing the speech and body language of sapphic celebrities, we seek to provide evidence and tools to identify linguistic markers.

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“I like going to the bitch”: Konglish (Korean-English) and Perception

Chen Chang, Jennifer Eom, Kanghyun Lee, Lavinia Lee, Cynthia Ortiz

“I can make the PowerPoint, but, uhmm…can you do the oral presentation for me?”

Due to pronunciation unfamiliarities in the English language, ESL (English as Second Language) speakers may sometimes develop apprehensiveness and insecurities towards their oral speaking skills. This is not an intrinsic response but rather an extrinsic consequence — people in the United States tend to perceive ESL speakers as less credible and less intelligent compared to standard American-accented English speakers. As the number of Korean international students in the United States increases over time, it is observed that some of the Korean ESL speakers are facing such discrimination as well. Hence, this project contains two parts of survey to serve the purpose of collecting and analyzing data relating to how Korean ESL speakers in the United States are being perceived; as well as to demonstrate the difference in credibility and intelligence level that “having an accent” can cause. Although this research project may be conducted on a relatively small scale and there exist some limitations and potential biases; the results may come out to be less significant than it is projected to be — there is little difference between a native speaker and a Korean ESL speaker in terms of perceived intelligence level and credibility; however, the scale of such inequity currently happening in this society is inevitably, very substantial.

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Males and Females, Are We Really That Socially Different? An Exploration of Same-Sex Friendship Dynamics

Shirley Yao, Sabrina Meyn, Viktoria Hovhannisyan

The friendship dynamics that males and females form with the same-sex differ in how they bond homosocially: either vertical or horizontal. Homosocial bonds are those that are non-romantic social bonds between those of the same-sex. Historically, these two types of homosocialities are used to regulate how people perform gender. Vertical homosociality, also known as hierarchical homosociality, is relationally tied to males, and horizontal homosociality with females. Vertical is centered on building power socially, whilst horizontal captures non-profitable aspects of social bonds. Research has shown that heterosexual males tend to be hypersensitive to their sexuality being misinterpreted in homosocial contexts, whilst females are presumed not to be. This has been previously attributed to female homosocial bonds being defined as desexualized relations and their intimate relations as being friendly or as a sexual display for the heterosexual male gaze. However, in the literature there is room to explore female’s friendship and social dynamics and obtain updated information on male homosocial friendship dynamics by comparison. Using a comprehensive questionnaire that aimed to gather data on participant’s homosocial friendship dynamics, we found that both females and males exercise homosociality similarly.

*Disclaimer: Gender and sex are not interchangeable terms, as gender refers to something people do or perform socially, and sex is what you are biologically. The participants in this study identified their sex as either being male or female.

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Different Ways that Male and Female Streamers Behave on Valorant Streams

Kevin Kim, Kota Tsukamoto, Guorang Zhang, Cindy Zheng

For our experiment, we analyzed Twitch streamers playing Valorant. Twitch, or Twitch.TV, is an online streaming platform popular among gamers. Valorant is a popular first-person shooter (FPS) game created by Riot Games in 2020. Valorant, as of 2021, has an estimated 12 million players, peaking at 15 million in July (Dexerto 2021). The game has a diverse range of players in various regions of the world. Contrary to other FPS games that are very heavily male-dominated, Riot Games has made an effort to increase the number of women in Valorant, resulting in 30-40% of Valorant players being women (VentureBeat 2021). Furthermore, Riot Games has even implemented an all females league as well as pro esports teams such as Cloud9 (known as C9 White) who recruited women for their Valorant teams earlier this year (PC Gamer 2021).

The experiment examined both male and female streamers to compare their vocabulary choices- while the study can incorporate more genders than just male and female, due to the demographic of streamers being mostly male or female, as well as time constraints, we only focused on those two genders.

One particular feature that we analyzed was the amount of provocative language that is done by streamers. The usage of swearing from male or female streamers was recorded in particular situations such as dying, insulting, and having disagreements with another player. We were aware of language most commonly used by gamers such as frags, ace, bait, boosted, clutch, flank, etc that could be more commonly used by one gender than the other (Çakır 2021).

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“I scared he eat, then the stomach explode!”: Missing Tense and the Standardization of Singlish

Hannah Chu, Trevor Htoon, Youchuan (Aaron) Hu, Ann Mayor, Grace Yao

Can we detect language change right as it’s happening? As a result of nearly a century of colonial handoffs, the Southeast Asian Island of Singapore developed its own, unique variety of English: Singapore Colloquial English, more commonly known as Singlish. There is reason to hypothesize, though, that Singlish may be progressively becoming closer to standard English and losing some of its distinctive linguistic features. The following article attempts to identify whether an assimilation to standard English is currently taking place among Singlish speakers, and if so, which categories of speakers are leading the change. The study focuses on one particular feature of Singlish: missing (or “dropped”) tense words, including copular verbs and tense auxiliaries. In order to collect data on this phenomenon, a survey and subsequent transcript analysis of eight YouTube videos from four young Singaporean content creators was conducted to identify tense word dropping rates for various Singlish speakers over time.

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Beyond the Binary: Analyzing Vocal Pitch of Non-Binary Celebrities

Megan Fu, Rowan Konstanzer, Erin Kwak, and Kimberly Gaona

Examining the speech of nonbinary individuals allows a better understanding of how different speech acoustic features such as vocal pitch, quality, and tempo are used to help construct gender identity. By investigating the speech acoustic features of non-binary celebrities, this study investigates whether coming out would cause their vocal pitch, tempo, and quality to be more divergent from cis-female and cis-male speakers. This was done by analyzing the celebrities’ pitches in their neutral interviews both before and after they publicly came out. It was hypothesized that the nonbinary individuals’ pitches would fall between the cis-female and cis-male pitches based on prior studies and research. Though this was supported by the data, a concrete conclusion was unable to be found as the differences were minor. However, an important takeaway was that a person’s pitch did not necessarily correlate with their gender identity and that there can and should be more research that includes the nonbinary community.

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