Anika Gerfer

Bild Anika Gerfer

Akademischer Werdegang
WiSe 2017/18 Admission to the Graduate School Empirical and Applied Linguistics
05/2017 – 09/2017 PhD Student in English Philology, WWU Münster
10/2015 – 04/2017 Master of Arts in National and Transnational Studies, WWU Münster
10/2012 – 08/2015 Bachelor of Arts in English & French, WWU Münster
09/2014 – 12/2014 Exchange Student at Université de Lille III, France
Universitäre/Berufliche Tätigkeiten
since 05/2017 Research assistant, Chair of English Linguistics, English Department, WWU Münster
04/2014 – 04/2017 Student assistant, Chair of English Linguistics, English Department, WWU Münster


Linguistic appropriation of Jamaican Creole in reggae and dancehall music

Jamaican Creole (JC), the creole language spoken in Jamaica, has had a long history as a ‘corrupt’ or ‘broken’ form of English due to its association with the language of the slaves. After Jamaica gained its independence, however, JC developed into a linguistic symbol of a Jamaican national identity. In the course of globalization, the formerly stigmatized language has crossed national borders through the migration of native speakers as well as computer-mediated communication. Nowadays JC is not only spoken by Jamaicans in the diaspora, but JC linguistic features are also adopted by out-group speakers. As a consequence, JC has developed into a globally prestigious variety of English. Although researchers agree that the global spread of JC has particularly been enhanced through the increasing international popularity of reggae and dancehall music, there has been no sociolinguistic research on the use of JC by non-Jamaican reggae and dancehall artists so far. The proposed PhD project therefore focuses on the ‘crossing’ into JC by white, non-Jamaican reggae and dancehall artists from different countries. In a first step, a reggae and dancehall lyrics corpus is compiled on the basis of which a phonetic, morpho-syntactic, and lexical analysis are carried out. The analysis further sheds light on whether and to what extent the singers’ exposure to JC, their linguistic background, and the topic of their songs have an effect on their use of JC features. In a second step, the dissertation focuses on attitudes towards and perceptions of the use of JC by these artists in music performances. By conducting interviews with Jamaican and non-Jamaican reggae and dancehall consumers this dissertation examines whether the subjects consider the artists in question as authentic, and whether or not they embrace the global spread of JC via reggae and dancehall music. This PhD project adopts an innovative approach to analyze the global spread of a non-standard variety of English in the context of reggae and dancehall music: while most studies focusing on the sociolinguistics of music performances only analyze singers’ accents, the proposed dissertation offers a detailed analysis of non-Jamaicans’ use of JC on different linguistic levels as well as attitudes towards crossing. It contributes to existing research on the sociolinguistics of globalization by empirically describing the current dynamics of the global spread of a non-standard variety of English through reggae and dancehall music.