Linguistics Senior Research Projects

Document Type

Capstone Project

Submission Date

Spring 5-4-2018


Code-switching, evangelism, African American Vernacular English (AAVE), Shannon-Weaver



This paper evaluates the use of code-switching as a linguistic and pragmatic tool to build interpersonal relationships between members of the African American minority group and the Standard English “white majority” for the purpose to evangelize the Christian faith. Using the Shannon-Weaver (Shannon & Weaver, 1999) communication model as a foundation, the research suggests that changing the message is the best way to overcome barriers in interpersonal communication (namely evangelistic communication). The research varies in use of code-switching as a pragmatic tool for this message change. Ariffin (2009), Jørgensen (1998), and Madsen (2004) give positive evidence for code-switching, while Anderson (2007) contrastingly argues that lexical borrowing is more favorable, and Wilder (1984) argues that cultural typicalness is most favorable. This research analyzes code-switching in an inner city teen center by reviewing questionnaires from the out-group volunteers and interviewing a volunteer with dual in-group membership. The original hypothesis states that the use of code-switching has a neutral to positive effect on building credible relationships between the majority out-group and minority in-group and thereby would be an effective evangelistic tool. However, the questionnaires and the interview reveal a neutral to negative effect of code-switching which supports the arguments of Wilder (1984) and Anderson (2007).

Keywords: code-switching, evangelism, African American Vernacular English (AAVE), Shannon-Weaver

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.



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