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A Cyber Step Show: E-Discourse and Literacy at an HBCU

Critical Inquiry in Language Studies Volume 2, Number 1, ISSN 1542-7587


This paper examines the step show or code-switching involving two dialects of English, Standard American English (SAE) and Black English Vernacular (BEV) at a Historically Black College and University (HBCU). The data point to a reversal of dominant institutional language and literacy practices at the university under focus. The conscious and purposeful use of written AAVE in student's e-negotiations is carefully examined. This computer-mediated secondary literacy (Ong, 1982) is viewed as symbolic of language identity. In the electronic contexts under focus, the overt prestige valuation the preferred primary literacy constructs signify and engender in users and respondents also draws attention to the saliency of context as a sociolinguistic variable. The goals are: to illustrate the linguistic flexibility operant at the HBCU, to examine the role of different variables in students' e-code choice(s), and to outline factors that promote bidialectalism and biliteracy, and ensure the maintenance of the home language at an HBCU, and specifically in cyberspace. (Contains 2 figures and 10 notes.)


Pandey, A. (2005). A Cyber Step Show: E-Discourse and Literacy at an HBCU. Critical Inquiry in Language Studies, 2(1), 35-70. Retrieved May 19, 2022 from .

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