Covert Prestige

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The use of slang in an advertisement, speech, or editorial comment automatically projects the image of originality, rebellion, and the backbone required to flaunt your originality in the face of the status quo. This is especially true when the phrases or language is obviously lifted from African-American English, or popular black slang.


This phenomenon, known as covert prestige, implies that the speaker or organization has a favorable affinity with the minority group that the slang is borrowed from (Savan 65). This gives the audience some instant familiarity with both groups and promotes their sense of fairness and individuality, even while exploiting the concept of race and using a mass marketing technique. However, this instant bonding may be an insult to the outgroup and embarrassing to the speaker. The bond formed by this appropriation of language is a shallow pandering to the fragile white need for acceptance by an out group, as well as having the potential to be insulting and demeaning to black people and their culture.
America has witnessed an onslaught of products that have been promoted by loosely linking the product with the black culture through the use of black slang. These products run the gamut from individual promotion to political parties, and from underwear to news items. They are all advertisements used to promote a product or an audience. However, care must be taken when analyzing an advertisement as Savan points out that black talk has become "part and parcel of American talk" and is not easily separated or categorized (Savan 72). ...
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