Date of Award

4-2019

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Applied Linguistics (M.A.)

Department

English

First Advisor

Dr. Colleen Brice

Second Advisor

Dr. Lindsay Ellis

Third Advisor

Dr. Amy Masko

Academic Year

2018/2019

Abstract

This master’s thesis explores the results of research into the language attitudes of peer consultants working in a writing center at a large regional public university in the American Midwest. A survey was administered to writing center staff in which they were asked to evaluate the sociopolitical relationship between standard and nonstandard English dialects, the perceived relative grammaticality of these dialects, and the traditional concept of appropriateness in academic writing. Also included were questions pertaining to how consultants manage the practical responsibilities of their positions and the expectations of students and professors with the writing center’s stated policy of linguistic inclusivity. Analysis of collected data suggests that consultants are aware of language variation and acknowledge the linguistic principles that all dialects are equally valid and rule-governed but lack sufficient metalinguistic knowledge to fully understand why. Although consultants have been taught to appreciate nonstandard language in student writing, they feel frustrated when trying to promote linguistic diversity at their university, as they also recognize that standard English remains the only accepted dialect in most academic and professional writing and is largely expected by all writing center stakeholders to whom they are accountable.

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