Barack Obama and the [blæk kəˈmjuːnətɛ:] - A study of style-shifting

Ann Christin Detert, Lundkjær Rasmussen, Ditte Sofie & Kasper Ravn Kristensen

Studenteropgave: Semesterprojekt


This project presents an exemplary study of style shifting. The basis of the project is the hypothesis that Barack Obama strategically employs a style of speech indexical of a distinct African American identity when speaking in front of a black audience in order to create in-group affiliation and gain support. The quantitative study focuses on the phonetic realization of the two linguistic variables (ING) and (HAPPY) across four public speeches given by Obama given in front of 3 black and 1 mixed audiences, respectively. The theoretical framework primarily consists of the two notable authors within the study of style, Allan Bell and Nikolas Coupland. The results show that although the AAVE-variant of the (HAPPY) variable is intrinsic to Obama’s speech in certain linguistic environments, two out of three ‘black audience’-speeches feature higher rates of AAVE features than the ‘mixed audience’-speech. Despite the diverging results in the third ‘black audience’-speech, the over-all hypothesis is largely confirmed.

UddannelserEngelsk, (Bachelor/kandidatuddannelse) Bachelor el. kandidat
Udgivelsesdato24 jun. 2013


  • Barack Obama
  • Style-Shifting