Ethnic visibility and ethnolinguistic repertoires: Dearborn English and the hijab


  • Iman Sheydaei University of Wisconsin-Madison



ethnolinguistic repertoires, ethnic visibility, Dearborn, MENA Americans, hijab


This study explores the intersection of ethnic visibility and linguistic behavior by analyzing the speech of two groups of Muslim female speakers in Dearborn, MI: one group wearing the Islamic hijab and another not wearing the hijab. Recent research shows that the variety of American English spoken in Dearborn is locally recognized and includes certain ethno-local markers such as higher rates of word-final /t/ glottalization and the convergence of voice onset time for lenis and fortis members of bilabial and velar stops. The Dearborn ethnolinguistic repertoire also features a vowel pattern not consistent with surrounding mainstream patterns. The sociolinguistic analysis in the present study explores the intersection between female Dearborners’ sartorial choices in terms of the Islamic hijab and their linguistic behavior with reference to the features of Dearborn English. Labovian Sociolinguistic Interviews were conducted with 16 female Dearborners: 9 with the Islamic headcover and 7 without the headcover. The results show both groups of speakers display similarly high rates of /t/ glottalization, a prominent feature of Dearborn English, in their speech. However, the hijab-wearing group’s stop VOT distribution and vowel patterning is more strongly aligned with the features of Dearborn English, showing compatibility between their sartorial and linguistic choices.




How to Cite

Sheydaei, Iman. 2024. “Ethnic Visibility and Ethnolinguistic Repertoires: Dearborn English and the Hijab”. Proceedings of the Linguistic Society of America 9 (1): 5669.