Unit 3 Putting on the style

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Unit 3 Putting on the style


  • Is a routine interactions between people in which people take on different interactional personae, representing certain versions of themselves to others. in talking together, speakers jointly negotiate particular identities, or aspects of themselves.

  • It is artful language in spoken interaction the idea that speakers often demonstrate a particular attention to and skills in the delivery of a message.

  • Goffman defines performance as: all the activity of a given participant on a given occasion which serves to influence in any way any of the other participants’.

Goffman and everyday performance:

He points to research evidence that US College girls played down their intelligence in the presence of their boyfriends, which might be assn as a kind of performance.


Is the study of the relationship between language and society, or language and social life. Sociolinguistic highlights the communicative competence of speakers, the choices open to them and the ways in which they tailor language to different functions and interactional ends. Sociolinguistic stresses the variation inherent in a language, as speakers of different backgrounds use language not just for the communication of information but to express an individual and group identity.تؤكد التباين الاجتماعي في اللغة كمتحدثين لمختلف اللغات لنقل المعلومات والتعبير عن الهوية الشخصية الجماعية

Sociolinguistic studies of language variation and change have documented systematic differences in the speech of groups identified in terms of social class, gender, age, ethnicity.

Speaking style:

Style refers to the distinctive ways of speaking associated with particular speakers or particular contexts.

Reading A: Messing with style:

Our identities are not fixed things. Our lives are a continuous development of a self, as we pursue desires and adapt to life stages and situations. A central part of our construction of selves is stylistic practice, in which we manage our external displays so as to provide others with a desired understanding of what we’re like.

How to appear? Page 127:

Like their clothing and activities, the jocks’ linguistic style conforms with their institutional engagement and aspirations. يتوافق مع مشاركاتهم Their grammar is standard. The burnouts’ anti-school stance shows up clearly in their non-standard grammar. It is not surprising that while the burnouts show a tendency to use patterns of nonstandard negation (e.g. I didn’t do nothing), ويظهر موقفهم بوضوح في استخدام القواعد الغير رسمية عند استخدام النفي this pattern is rare in the speech of the jocks. This little linguistic fact is not a reflection of what the jocks and burnouts ‘know’, since the burnouts do use a good deal of standard negation and there is no burnout who uses 100% non-standard negation. لا يوجد أحد من المجموعة يستخدم 100% في حالة النفي غير الرسمي While for some of the burnouts the use of non-standard negation might come more easily, it is clear that in many cases it constitutes a stylistic choice. It is important to note the gender difference (in figure 1) the jock girls’ very limited use of nonstandard negation is a clear indication of their need to be ‘squeaky-clean’ while the burnout girls are under no such constraint, and their negation pattern is more like that of the burnout boys. من المهم أن نلاحظ الفرق بين الجنسين في استخدام النفي غير الرسمي، فالنكت عند الفتيات استخدامهم محدود للنفي غير الرسمي نظراً لحاجتهم إلى أن تكون النكت نظيفة حيث أن مجموعة البنات لهم قيود معينة. وأنماط النفي عندهم أكثر منها عند الأولاد.

Activity 2 Messing with style (Reading A):

Penelope Eckert sees speakers stylistic choices as a process of bricolage in which speakers draw on a mix of linguistic and other resources not just to recreate existing identities but to give these new twists. In her study of Belten High, the jock / burnout opposition she identifies is important, not because all students fall into one of these categories there are many in betweens but because the categories are highly salient. Students tend to define themselves in relation to these categories. Gender is also an important aspect of students identities, girls and boys both carry out and are associated with a different range of activities.

  • Eckert identifies a relationship between category membership and gender, suggesting that:

    1. burnouts (group of girls students) tend to use more non-standard forms of negation, a feature that is much rarer in the speech of jocks; jock girls are at the extreme end of the spectrum, using the lowest percentage of non-standard forms; on the other hand, burnout girls’ use of non-standard forms is similar to that of burnout boys.

    2. There are differences between jock boys: those who are primarily involved in student government use similar patterns of negation to jock girls but those who are primarily athletes use more non-standard forms.

    3. There are differences between burnout girls; burned out burnouts use the highest percentage of non-standard forms of negation.
    4. Differences are also reflected in pronunciation, with burnouts using more extreme forms of new urban pronunciations than jocks, and jock girls being the most conservative speakers.

Page 109: an analysis of nerd interactions:

  • Eckert and Bucholtz discussed the use of English in monolingual contexts where speaking style can be characterized in terms of speakers’ overall use of particular linguistic features grammatical and pronunciation features. Such styles are not static: they vary continually, allowing speakers to emphasize different aspects of their identity (e.g. appearing more or less jock-like, or nerd- like, on different occasions, or foregrounding entirely different aspects of their identities).

  • In bilingual interactions, speakers may choose to use one language or another to represent different identities, or sometimes balance different identities by switching back and forth between languages as in the example where three young men in Nairobi switch between Swahili and English.

  • The fact of switching allows the young men simultaneously to signal different aspects of their identity: local solidarity (based on Swahili) and educatedness/ upward social mobility (based on English).


Is a switching between languages and varieties, or style-shifting in monolingual contexts constitutes routine interactional behavior.

Language crossing:

Is a type of switching. It is the use of a variety of language associated with a social or language group that the speaker does not normally belong to. This relevant to our discussion of everyday performance as it has been seen as a relatively artful type of performance and an example of figurative language use. هو استخدام مجموعة مختلفة من اللغة مرتبطة اجتماعياً حيث المتكلمين لا ينتمون إليها. وهذه تعود على مناقشاتنا اليومية وينظر إليها على أنها نوع من الأداء التصويري

Ethnicity = geographical:

Considerable amount of contextual knowledge to interpret the language patterns amongst groups of young people living in some area and the development of new ethnicity. كمية كبيرة من المعلومات لتفسير أنماط اللغة بين مجموعات من الشباب الذين يعيشون في منطقة معينة وتطوير هذه العرقية

Reading B Language crossing:

Ben Rampton الذي بحث في اللغة خلال علم دراسة الجغرافيا an ethnographic الأنثولوجي حيث بدأ بجيرانه South Midland في بريطانيا. كما درس اللغة لصغار السن من الهنود والباكستانيين والبحر الكاريبي. عمل مع 23 شخص أعمارهم من 11 إلى 13 سنة في عام 1984 وأعاد الدراسة مرة أخرى في عام 1987 حيث عمل مع تقريباً 64 شخص أعمارهم تتراوح بين 14 إلى 16. حيث استخدم المايكرفون لتسجيل معلوماته مع بعض ملاحظاته ومقابلاته مع التعليق على مقتطفات المشاركين وتعليقاتهم. وجد أن:

68 examples of Panjabi crossing; 160 examples of what he terms ‘stylized Asian English’; and more than 250 examples with a clear Creole influence. Crossing took place in interactions with adults, with peers النظير, and in performance art.

Activity 3 Language crossing (reading B):

Drawing in different forms of evidence:
      1. Crossing takes different forms and has different meanings in different contexts note the use of Panjabi within an episode of jocular abuse between friends in example 1, the use of Creole features to index resistance or non-compliance with a teacher in example 2, and the use of stylized Asian English as a ‘put down’ to a younger pupil in example 3.

      2. In crossing, people are not aspiring to the identity associated with their choice of language (white Anglo speaker using Panjabi does not actually wish to be taken as Panjabi). Arguably, crossing does partly destabilize the fixity of inherited identities.

      3. Crossing can be seen as a form of figurative language (metaphorical or ironic( it is figurative in the sense that speakers are not actually claiming the identity represented by the variety they select; in making this claim, Rampton draws on a distinction between ‘situational’ and ‘metaphorical’.

      4. Rampton relates this to ideas about language developed by the Russian literary theorist and philosopher of language Mikhail Bakhtin and particularly to Bakhtin’s notion of ‘double voicing’.

      5. Crossing may be cast as performance, in a way that extends this from a ‘literary’ to an ‘everyday sense’.

Bakhtin and ‘double-voicing’:

  • Double voicing is based on the idea that all language use involves speaking through the voices utterances along with their associated meanings of others.

  • Language is recycled and re-articulated مترابط, but words, phrases, etc. carry with them the ‘taste’ of other speakers and other contexts. ‘Double-voicing’ means that the utterance carries two sets of meanings or semantic intentions. An example might be a narrator telling a story and quoting from another speaker in such a way that the narrator’s viewpoint is evident behind that of the quoted speaker. Bakhtin distinguishes between ‘uni-directional\ and ‘vari-directional’ double voicing.

  • In the case of uni-directional double-voicing, although there are two voices, the semantic intentions are consistent; in the case of vari-directional double-voicing, the speaker introduces a new semantic intention directly opposed to the original one.

Crossing: the definition elaborated:

  • Two things seem to run through all of these examples (example 1,2,3 from page 131 to 135):

First: the speakers moved outside the language varieties they normally used and they briefly adopted codes which they didn’t have full and easy access to. Other kids commented on this code-crossing, and the fact that white and Panjabi youngsters generally avoided using Creole in the company of black peers, and that white and black peers hardly ever used stylized Asian English to address peers with Panjabi backgrounds, points to the constraints and sensitivities involved.

Second: these appropriations of someone else’s language occurred in moments and activities when the world of daily life known in common with others and with others taken for granted.

These points have important implications for our understanding of (a) ethnic processes and (b) the way social identities are negotiated in interactional code-switching. Taking ethnicity first, crossing never actually claimed that the speaker was really black or Asian- it didn’t imply that the crosser could move unproblematically in and out of the friends’ heritage language in any new kinds of open biculturalism.

  • The diagram on page 138 is included.

Crossing as performance:

All this seemed true in the performance of language crossing.

Firs, crossing was set off from ordinary talk with only the lightest change of ‘key’. Second: crossing foregrounded ethnicity and that it constituted a challenge to dominant notions of ethnolinguistic identity and inheritance.


We have considered how people may use language to style themselves to take on a particular persona or juggle between personae in interaction with others. the research we have discussed argues that language varieties (accents and dialects) and English itself in bilingual contexts are meaningful: that varieties acquire meaning from their use by certain social groups, and may be drawn on by speakers to indicate their association with such groups.

Activity 8:

  • Rampton’s study of crossing and Besnier’s study of code-switching between Tongan and English adopt an ethnographic methodology. They focus on the strategic use of language, or how speakers may adopt a particular language, or switch between languages to index a particular identity or shift in identity. Again this is underpinned by a contextualized approach to the study of language use.
  • The term ‘persona’ is sometimes used to indicate that people take on, or foreground, certain aspects of their identity in interaction with others. The analogy may seem to work best for the performance of identities seen as figurative (metaphorical or ironic) or for performances that are more self-conscious and deliberate. But it is also extended to more everyday ‘performance’, where speakers routinely, through their use of language, take on , shift between, negotiated aspects of identity without consciously focusing on such interactional activity.

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