How Social Commentary Became a Place for Gendered Norm Subversion

Sylvia Hopkins

Content/Trigger Warning: This article discusses sexual assault

Social commentary has become much more common and impactful to everyday people and their lives. In current times, social commentary is mostly used in social justice spaces with the intent of raising awareness, educating people, or calling out people and institutions for problematic behavior. In the past, only academics and media broadcasters were able to social commentate on a large scale. Traditionally, social commentary was largely limited to class-privileged and college-educated people who were overwhelmingly white and male. The rise of the internet and social media has allowed people who would not have previously had the resources to share their ideas to now be able to broadcast their ideas to thousands, if not millions of people. Because of this new-found accessibility, there has been a huge increase in marginalized people creating and engaging in social commentary. The recent increases in accessibility are not only good for diversity, but also for subverting gender norms.

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“Like…my whole face is just crooked!”: Self-Deprecation in Actors and Actresses

Sapna Ramappa

Why and how do people use self-deprecation? Do people use it to “fish for compliments” or just seem more relatable? This article highlights the prevalence and utilization of self-deprecating language among actors and actresses in interviews on late-night talk shows. Interviews with four female celebrities and four male celebrities on The Ellen Degeneres Show and The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon were analyzed in order to discern any potential gender differences in the intentions and execution of self-deprecation that celebrities employ. Accounts of self-deprecation were sorted into categories of self-deprecation (physical appearance, professional/intellectual competence, personality traits, and behavior) and pitch alterations (higher or lower pitches). Ultimately, this study found that the use of self-deprecation is not as gendered as previously thought, which could illuminate how being a public figure in an industry that is quick to scrutinize one’s physical appearance and performance can influence the ways in which people perceive themselves and speak about themselves.

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Are some NBA slang terms too vague? Absolutely!

Isaac Verdugo, Riley Kwinn, Brendan Xiong, and Gustavo Gutierrez

NBA (National Basketball Association) slang is widely used by basketball fans all over the world. NBA slang is formed and developed with NBA history. It has unique features and functions that give NBA fans the opportunity to express their opinions about the game of basketball in creative ways. NBA slang reflects NBA culture. A sociolinguistic study of NBA slang helps people know more about NBA culture and fans of different teams. The following study discusses semantic change in NBA slang terminology within Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers communities of practice through discourse analysis. First, we selected four common NBA slang terms that are used in this sports league and provide their generic definitions. We then analyzed online basketball discourses to look for ways in which fans from both teams use the NBA slang terms that we are examining. Third, we used a corpus analysis toolkit, AntConc, which helped us find patterns of concordance within our data. We concluded by making generalizations about the use of our selected terms by Lakers and Clippers fans and determined trends through analysis.

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K-Netizen: Examining Possessive Behavior in K-pop Social Media Discourse

Matthew Lee, Sam Lin, Huimin Liu, Francisco Morales, Annika Park

In recent years, Korean popular music, or K-pop, has led the way for a meteoric rise in global popularity of Korean culture. According to Sue Jin Lee’s study, “The Korean Wave: The Seoul of Asia,” this Korean wave—hallyu in Korean—has garnered a worldwide fanbase whose members create communities online centered around their favorite groups and idols. These K-pop fans primarily interact with their favorite artists and each other via social media posts and comments, creating online communities of internet citizens (netizens) that are each focused around certain idols. There is, however, a negative perception of Korean netizens who are seen by international fans as overly critical of K-pop groups and labels, possessive of idols, and having a sense of entitlement to celebrities. This study examines the question: does this perception of possessive Korean K-pop fans hold true? If so, what is the reason for this behavior? To find answers, the use of personal possessive pronouns in social media comments is examined to gauge possessiveness in Korean and international fans, informing a further discussion about Korean nationalism at play in K-pop social media interactions.

Figure 1: Social media backlash towards Korean K-pop fans from international fans

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A Study on Randall Park: Linguistic Marks of Second-generation Asian-Americans

Joon Chang, Mabel Gong, Yanqi Qing, Esther Li, Yoori Kwak


The term “Asian American” was coined by the late Japanese historian Yuji Ichioka in the late 1960s, in the midst of the burgeoning affirmative action movement advocated by African-Americans and other minorities. His original intention in introducing this ethno-racial identity was to deny the disparaging term “oriental” that Westerners had imposed on Asian Americans (Zhou, 2013). Over time, the Asian American identity became more widely accepted by Americans and Asians, and ethnicity grew to be an increasingly important point of discussion in today’s society. Second-generation Asian Americans who grew up in this environment, under the fusion of heritage and mainstream American cultures may reflect a hybrid self-identity. This hybrid self-identity can also be observed and expressed through the form of language.


First and foremost, we would like to thank Dr. Daria Bahtina and Ms. Mercedes Douglas who provided us with valuable advice from the beginning of the topic selection process and helped us tremendously when we encountered difficulties in the construction of the projects. In addition, we would like to thank each and every group member for their hard work and dedication to this project, it was the efforts of each of us that brought the project to life.

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Sociolinguistic Activism and White Fragility

Jamie Seals, Makena Larson, Betsy Benavides, Faith McCormick

When looking at the work previously done on the intersection of white fragility and sociolinguistics, we noticed a gap in research that we wanted to fill. We conducted interviews between two white peers, the topic of conversation being sensitive topics such as race and racism. We hypothesized that the interviewees would take a neutral stance when speaking on the subject of race. We looked specifically at word choice, stance, and circumlocution. Using conversation analysis on all three interviews conducted, we were able to look at these linguistic elements and draw conclusions. It was found that interviewees used circumlocution, hedged and hummed, and all held a very particular stance. In our article, we delve more deeply into what we found, the examples of conversation analysis, and what the most significant takeaways were.

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The Gendered Life of Five-Year Olds: How Language Perpetuates Gender Conformity in Children

Brandon, Dianely, Giselle, Rukhsar, and Victoria

The objective of this study was to analyze the initiation of gendered language compliance during child development by focusing on the production of language in English-speaking five-year-old children. We hypothesized that boys are more likely to display linguistic features associated with men in their language in comparison to girls conforming to features related to their gender. We examined conversations between five-year-old boys and girls from the television series The Secret Life of Five Year Olds for our research. Considering that there wasn’t quantitative data involved in this study, our conversational analysis approach provides insightful language distinctions between the boys and girls: the boys had higher rates of interruptions/utterances and were more assertive in general. In contrast, the girls were less blunt and downplayed their criticism. Our hypothesis was supported to some degree; boys will play into gendered language, but so will girls. This study is significant because it allows parents and society to hold more self-awareness in the unconscious gender norms they are enforcing onto their children at a young age.

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Does Saying ‘Fuck’ During a Conversation Mean You’re Less Friendly, Less Smart, and Less Honest? Yup.

Brooke Lim

The fact of the matter is, we have all at some point said a casual ‘bitch’ or ‘fuck’ during a conversation with both new and old friends. But does that make the other person in the conversation look at us under a new light? Profanity is a crucial part of our society’s language expression, even having a grammatical structure of its own (Bergen, 2016). With only a handful of exceptions, across time and most cultures, use of language that has been seen as profane has been discouraged by a bulk of the living society. Whether it is being chastised for saying ‘shit’ at the dinner table by your mom or being given detention by your teacher for saying ‘motherfucker’ during class, many have experienced being overtly and even covertly reprimanded for their use of obscenities.

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Latecomers’ Usage of the [ɹ] Sound and Identity Construction

Bingbing Liu, Kejia Zhang, Nina Cai, Ze Ning, Zehao Yao

Recent sociolinguistic studies show interests in exploring people’s language practices and their corresponding social influences. In China, the rapid development of the society has attracted more and more people immigrating from the countryside to the city. Beijing, one of the most prosperous cities in China, welcomes immigrants coming from various cities. When different groups live together, their linguistic varieties actively interact with each other in a long run. This study focuses on the comparison between the insiders who were born and raised in Beijing and latecomers who settled down there in later times. Through observing their usages of [ɹ] sound, this study displays the pattern that latecomers might imitate the pronunciation of this sound and use it daily life, but they will not overcompensate it nor use in inappropriate contexts. Also, this study demonstrates that the acquisition of specific linguistic features is social-cultural affected, which is related to the speaker’s personalities, life experience, and preferences.

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“Oh My God!” Who uses code-switching in K-dramas?

Gianelli Liguidliguid, Kyoo Sang Han, Victor Sohn

Korean dramas, otherwise known as “K-dramas,” have become easier to watch than ever before. With shows previously only being televised on South Korean TV stations, many people can now watch K-dramas on popular streaming platforms like Netflix and Hulu. Because of this, the popularity of K-dramas has spread everywhere, including in the U.S. With this rise in popularity, there has also been an increase in the amount of Konglish (Korean-English) being spoken in K-dramas. This study explores the number of code-switching instances from Korean to English in K-dramas targeted toward a specific age demographic and looks into code-switching characters. Our research focuses on eight K-dramas, four aired in the morning for older audiences, and four aired in the evening for younger audiences. We hypothesize that Korean-English code-switching will be more frequent in K-dramas targeted at a younger audience and that higher socioeconomic status will play a role in regarding who code-switches. Our data highlights which age demographic tends to code-switch more, focusing on inter-sentential and intra-sentential code-switches, and provides an overview of the types of characters that speak in both Korean and English.

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