Language as a badge of identity

869 words 4 pages
‘Language acts as a badge of identity.’ Discuss, referring to at least three of the subsystems.

Language is used every day to communicate with one another but beneath that conversation lies another message. The speaker’s use of language gives listeners insight as to who they are, like a badge of identity on their chest. Australian English’s unique phonology and lexicon is recognised globally and distinguishes it from other accents, giving the speaker a clear national identity. Ethno-lects are spoken by a specific group of people who have the same cultural background. These “ethno-lects” not only help express an individual’s identity and separate themselves from the rest, but also assist in bringing together speakers from similar
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Acronyms such as “idek” (I don’t even know) and “tbh” (to be honest) are now frequently used lexicon in a teenager’s text vocabulary due to connotations of “cool” and “modern” being associated with them. Similarly, whatever was once popular amongst a teenager’s discourse. In time, it was shortened to “whatevs” and this trend spread quickly amongst them as a result of peer pressure and the need to be fashionable. Professor Steven Pinker suggests the reason for this is because “the coolest kids decide to talk that way and it spreads like wildfire”. Individuals who wish to associate with others who sit higher on the “social pyramid” will pick up their speech habits and wear it as a new badge of identity. Having their own exclusive vocabulary allows teenagers to relate to each other and share the same identity, giving them a sense of belonging to a group.

Language can be worn as a badge of identity, giving speakers national, interpersonal and intrapersonal identity. The phonology of Australian English gives the speaker a distinct accent and, paired along with its unique slang, makes it identifiable across the globe. In order to separate themselves from adults and children, teenagers build a linguistic barrier by creating neologisms and maintaining that barrier by constantly altering lexicon to avoid adults becoming too familiar with them. On the other hand, inside the teenage group is a drive to conform and use similar language


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