Style in motion: Lectal focusing in an African American sermon

Devyani Sharma, Lars Hinrichs, Tracy Conner, Andrea Kortenhoven

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Rickford and McNair-Knox (1994) made foundational contributions to the study of sociolinguistic style by using multiple recordings of a single speaker of African American Vernacular English. The present article takes this approach, tracking real-time style variation in one individual using a novel method (Sharma and Rampton 2015). Examining two sermons delivered by an African American pastor to different audiences, the analysis identifies multiple levels at which social meaning unfolds in discourse. In this highly structured speech genre, audience appears to have a much weaker effect on the pastor’s style choice than the need to mark the internal organization of the sermon and, at a more micro-level, to signal stance, voicing, and persona. The close parallel to Kortenhoven’s (2017) analysis of a female African American pastor attests to the extraordinarily conventionalized status of these style patterns.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Routledge Companion to the Work of John R. Rickford
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9780429765339
ISBN (Print)9781138370708
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)
  • Social Sciences(all)


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