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Establishing Social Identity Through Language Use

Establishing Social Identity Through Language Use

Abstract

A method for describing patterns of language use that establish social group uniqueness is proposed. Language use as an aspect of social identity is described in terms of (1) culturally specific vocabulary, (2) context-sensitive topics and (3) shared attitudes. As people become members of a social group and learn to share that group's identity, they acquire this ‘group talk’. An understanding of group talk analysed on such a three-part model discoverable via participant observation may also be useful in leading toward an understanding of the process of social categorisation as it plays a role in intergroup communication. Examples of establishing social identity are drawn primarily from observations in an American Indian community with illustrations also from familial, professional, and other subcultural situations.
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