Language And Identity

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Language use and identity are conceptualized rather differently in a sociocultural perspective on human action. Here, identity is rather viewed as socially constituted; a reflexive, dynamic product of the social, historical and political contexts of an individual’s lived experiences. This view has helped to set innovative directions for research in applied linguistics. The purpose of this article is to lay out some of the more significant assumptions embodied in contemporary understandings of identity and its connection to culture and language use. Language and Social identity When we use language, we do so as individuals with social histories. Our histories are defined in part by our membership in a range of social groups into which we are…show more content…
At the heart of IS is the notion of contextualization cues. These cues are defined as as any verbal sign which when processed in co-occurrence with symbolic grammatical and lexical signs serves to construct the contextual ground for situated interpretations, and thereby affects how constituent messages are understood. The cues encompass various forms of speech production including the lexical, syntactic, pragmatic and paralinguistic. They also include turn-taking patterns, and even the language code itself. Any misuse or misinterpretation of cues is said to be due to a lack of shared knowledge of cue meanings. The concept of contextualization cues draws our attention to detailed ways in which language use is tied to individual identities and provides a window into the micro-processes by which such cues are used in the accomplishment of communicative…show more content…
One of the more significant premises replaces the traditional understanding of language users as unitary, unique and internally motivated individuals with a view of language users as social actors whose identities are multiple, varied and emergent from their everyday lived experiences. Through involvement in their socio-culturally significant activities, individuals take on or inhabit particular social identities, and use their understandings of their social roles and relationships to others to mediate their involvement and the involvement of others in their practices. These identities are emergent, locally situated and at the same time historically constituted, and thus are ‘precarious, contradictory and in process, constantly being reconstituted in discourse each time we think or speak’. Finally, this view recognizes that culture does not exist apart from language or apart from us, as language users. Instead, it sees it as reflexive, made and remade in our language games and our lived experiences. On this view, no use of language, no individual language user, is considered to be ‘culture-free’. Rather, in our every communicative encounter we are always at the same time carriers and agents of culture. Such a view of language, culture and identity leads to concerns with articulating ‘the relationship between the structures of society and

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