Speaking like a model minority: "FOB" styles, gender, and racial meanings among desi teens in Silicon Valley

Shalini Shankar*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

46 Scopus citations


This article discusses what it means to be a "model minority" linguistically by examining how language ideologies, class, and gender shape language use for Desi (South Asian American) teenagers in a Silicon Valley high school. Upper middle-class Desi teens follow monolingual norms while middle-class Desi teens construct heteroglossic "FOB styles" that incorporate Punjabi, Desi Accented English, California slang, and hip-hop lexicon. Style construction is influenced by gendered community norms that also prevail at school, and boys and girls variably regard school spaces as public or private. Nonnormative, gendered ways of speaking are contrasted to "model" ones and analyzed for their racializing consequences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)268-289
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Linguistic Anthropology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 8 2008



  • Gender
  • Race
  • South Asian American
  • Style
  • Youth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language

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