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Language and Identity Essay

This paper is explaining and assessing the relationships between language and Identity. As the topic is too large to discuss, the paper will be focusing on the language and identity of teenagers. By looking at their characteristics, we will discuss how they build up a kind of identity in different social group by means of language. The paper will also include the argument on how people view the relationships between language and identity.

Defining Identity According to The Free Dictionary by Farlex, identity is the state of having unique identifying characteristics held by no other person or thing. It is the individual characteristics by which a person or thing is recognized. For my own definition of identity, it is one’s conception and expression of themselves in groups, family, society.

Identification is one of the related concepts of identity, which can help explaining what identity is. In sociological aspect, identification means one’s interests and values are accepted in a social group. The acceptance offered by the social group help building up one’s own identity. Subjectivity is another relating concept of identity. It means one’s thoughts and ideas are in the state of being subjective. Undoubtedly, think subjectively is a good way to show one’s unique identity.

After discussing certain concepts related to identity, so, how identity is relating to language?

Identity relating language As defined as above, identity is the recognition of one’s values and expressions in a social group. In a community, there are numbers of social group: family, schools, workplace, etc. Usually, an individual is a member of several social groups at the same time, and certainly, one is playing quite a different role in different social groups. As every social group is having its unique natures, ideas accepted by a group may not be accepted by another. Therefore, using appropriate language to show one’s identity is essential. In different social group, we can show our unique identity by means of language, since language enables us to express certain status, as well as giving impression to others.

In the following part, we are discussing how teenagers view on their relationships around by looking at some characteristics of them and surely, the discussion will be based on language and identity perspective.

Language and Identity: teenagers’ views on the relationships In teenage ages, schools and family are believed to be the two closest social group of adolescent. Therefore, we will be focusing on teenagers’ views towards these two groups of people, friends and parents.

Friends/Peers Regarding to some common characteristics of typical teenagers, they usually put friends at the first place and like hanging out with friends. They even feel like no one understands them except their friends. Also, they start paying attention to their appearance and find peer’ recognitions on their outfit very important. Such being the case, language used among peers are usually aim at seeking recognition. For example, they like to develop some special terms or vocabularies which are only understand by them, but not their teachers or parents. This is one of the ways showing how teenagers build up a kind of unique identity among peers using language.

Parents People in teenage ages usually want to get rid of parents’ control and start setting up a set of own values, which is often quite different from their parents. Besides, they emphasize on individuality. Furthermore, they start doing some adult-like things such as smoking, doing make up and buying luxury goods to express their desire on gaining more rights. Teenagers hate doing things which their parents expect them to do while enjoy doing things which their parents do not want them to, with a view to expressing individuality and drawing attention from their parents. Therefore, whenever their parents hold a disagree view on what they do, they love using language like ‘You know what?’ or ‘You don’t even try to understand me!’ to reply their parents. This show how teenagers view on their parents and how they using language express a kind of ‘new identity’ in the family.

In next part, the paper will include analysis of some daily conversations, which are all real examples I took in my daily life. The analysis will be based on the SPEAKING acronym and the theory by Bakhtin about how speech genre affects one’s speech.

Language and Identity: Case study Theory by Bakhtin Bakhtin proposed that language is used in typical social situations. He also added that speaking occurs in speech genres which guide the interaction and which are determined by social structure. Speech genres organize our speech in almost the same way as grammatical forms do.


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