Honors College Research

Document Type

Research Paper

Date of Completion

Spring 2018

Project Type

Honors Capstone



Faculty Advisor

Dr. Michael James


This study investigated just one dependent variable within communication: ethnicity. Ethnicity often influences language. The study examined interethnic communication behaviors through the lens of the Communication Accommodation Theory (CAT), as influenced by one of its offshoots, Ethnolinguistic Identity Theory (ELIT). Communication within CAT is given one of three labels—convergence, divergence, and maintenance. The study included four students at Harding University: two African American females, one Hispanic American female, and one Caucasian American female. The primary participant, an African American woman, had a recorded 20 minute conversation with each of the other three participants. Discussion questions provided were formulated to create either convergence or divergence. This study utilized discourse analysis to evaluate the communication between participants, focusing on syntactical differences, discourse markers, and turn-taking silence behaviors within the dyads. Through analysis of interethnic linguistic behaviors, this study hopes to facilitate understanding of factors which govern them. These factors could, in turn, illuminate ways to foster constructive interethnic communication.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License