Access Type

Open Access Thesis

Date of Award

January 2011

Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Donyale Padgett


This study aims to explore how African Americans who speak Black English (BE), particularly members of Generation X, function communicatively in corporate America, where the dominant language spoken is Standard American English (SAE). Much of the literature theorized African Americans as being resistant to speaking SAE in mainstream settings in fear of compromising their identities or "acting white." Using in-depth interviews with six African Americans across the country who work in corporate America, this study examines their lived communicative experiences in the workplace and how they learned language balance (the ability to codeswitch).

With data compiled into case studies and analyzed using cross-case synthesis, the research yielded the results of six African Americans who have learned the art of codeswitching between BE and SAE in corporate America without compromising their identities.