The dialects that college students speak represent a type of diversity that can influence many elements of their experiences in college, including academic experiences. In this study, we examined the influence of speaking a stigmatized dialect on academic experiences for White and African American students (both male and female) from rural Southern Appalachia attending a large research institution in the urban South. This qualitative study was aided by quantitative sociolinguistic methods used to identify and describe students’ speech patterns in order to better understand the influence that students perceived their dialect to have on academic experiences. Findings suggest that for more vernacular students, dialect can influence participation in class, degree of comfort in course, perceived academic challenges, and for some, their beliefs about whether or not others perceive them as intelligent or scholarly based on their speech. This study has implications for the consideration of language diversity in fostering welcoming academic environments and in the role of language discrimination and stereotype threat/stereotype management.


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pp. 777-803
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