The University of Calgary issued a press release about a linguistics researcher, Dr. Darin Howe, who is using hip hop to study African American vernacular English [AAVE]. The press release states, in part:
It’s rare to use the words ‘hip hop’ and ‘serious academic research’ in the same sentence…
Howe is believed to be the only academic in Canada and one of the few in the world to take a scholarly look at the language of hip hop.
A simple Google search for “hip hop” on academic web sites produces over a million hits. Right at the top is this bibliography. And a Google search for linguistics and hip hop produces 27,500 hits. Of those, 725 hits are from Canada! (Linguists seem to be doing more hip hop research than anthropologists. AnthroSource has only 101 hits.)
But what really bothers me about this press release isn’t so much the wildly inaccurate nature of its claims, but the notion that there is something intellectually daring about doing research on popular culture in this day and age. I mean, we are talking about a 1.5 billion dollar industry!
(via Nomadic Thoughts)
UPDATE: For some serious hip hop linguistics fact checking, see Benjamin Zimmer’s post over at Language Log.