COM 380/580-Topics in Communication

African-American Language, Culture and Communication

Fall 2007



Instructions (Read them all before you begin)


Choose one (1) of the following two questions, and write a 1000-1200-word essay in response.


*Your essay should have a minimum of 3 citations from each text, and at least 12 citations overall, with page numbers and sources documented, and quotation marks where applicable. Check your essay and add the citations up before you send your exam to me, because failure to follow this will cost you points.


*Indicate which question you are answering by putting the question number at the top of your response. The essay should have a thesis (a main point), supporting points, and specific support from the texts, and it should be clearly organized.


*Write the essay offline in a word-processing or text-editing program and save the file frequently as you write. Copy and paste the essay into the text field of an email message and send it to me at, with  "COM 380 midterm" in the subject line. Do not send attachments. Save a copy of your responses at least through the end of the semester.


*Remember that grammar and spelling will not count against you on this exam unless they interfere with my being able to understand what you mean: therefore, most of you should avoid the temptation to do extensive proofreading/copy-editing.


*Native speakers of English should expect to spend about 2-3 hours on this exam, non-native speakers perhaps a little longer. I'd like to get them in by midnight Tuesday the 9th, but if you need more time, write and ask me for it.



  1. The origins of modern African American English are controversial in academia.  Using information and quotes from AAC pp. 143-149, the handout, and from AAE pp. 5-11 and Chapters 1 and 2, discuss and analyze the various theories and and their implications for African Americans' sense of identity.


  1. How does African American English fit into the context of African American communicative competence?  Using information and quotes from AAC Chapter 3 and AAE Chapters 1 and 2, explain the notion of communicative competence in general as well as the specific norms, strategies and issues associated with African American communicative competence, and speculate on the role(s) African American English may play with regard to these norms, strategies and issues.