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Oklahoma drag and queer folk linguistics

McCleary, Bryce E.
This dissertation studies the role language plays in a community of drag performers in Oklahoma City and how it contributes to identity construction. It reports on three years of observation and engagement with the community prior to recordings, which enhanced the design of the interview/discussion questions. It relies on insights from Folk Linguistics, Language Regard, Queer/Sociocultural Linguistics, and Raciolinguistics in the design of the study and in the collection, organization, and interpretation of the data. 12 sessions were recorded, some one-on-one and some in group discussions, and 6.5 hours were consulted for this dissertation, resulting in more than 25 thousand words of transcribed and analyzed speech. The analysis specifically focuses on performers' regard for drag-related speech (i.e., in-group language, "drag queen talk," etc.) and on the variable ways that intersectional identities are constructed in such discourse. Three important conclusions emerged: 1) Folk Linguistics/Language Regard are largely unprepared for studying Queer communities; 2) Sociocultural and identity-based perspectives on language regard data offer reliable, albeit complex, interpretive approaches to such data; 3) A synthesis of these perspectives strongly encourages the view that all discursive expressions of language regard require stancetaking and positioning, and contribute to identity construction. This project will be relevant to other work on queer communities in addition to future general work in Folk Linguistics and Language Regard.