Anusha Anand

Date of Award

Spring 2022

Document Type

Open Access Thesis



First Advisor

Elaine Chun


As sociolinguists have long noted, racial hierarchies in the United States have been maintained through a hegemonic standard language ideology that assumes white middle-class ways of speaking as “standard” and the linguistic marginalization of non-whites ways of speaking as “nonstandard” (Bonfiglio 2010). This phenomenon is well-documented in studies on the perceptions of racialized international TAs (ITAs), which show that the racializing ideologies about ITAs’ language held by predominantly white, Western undergraduates impact their perception of ITAs’ comprehensibility and teaching ability (Staples, Kang, & Wittner 2014). Other studies on international students have shown that the discrimination that they face is driven by neo-racism, which rationalizes subordination based on culture rather than color (Spears 1999; Lee & Rice 2007). Ramjattan (2020) has highlighted that the notion of “culture” necessarily entails accent and language.

In this thesis, I therefore examine some of the cultural and linguistic ideologies that underlie discourses pertaining to international students at a U.S. predominantly white institution. I employ a raciolinguistic approach (Rosa & Flores 2017) as I identify the co-naturalization of the racial and linguistic marginalization of international students. Centrally, I argue that the discourses in question obscure the racializing dynamics which undergird essentializing definitions of “American culture” and “English language”, thereby encouraging assimilation to hegemonic norms in the guise of benevolent or benign linguistic and cultural education. Finally, I imagine the denaturalization of these ideologies as a necessary step in the effort towards decolonization and the eradication of white supremacy by offering tangible solutions to U.S. universities.

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