Language seems to have two principal functions; it is of course an instrument of communication, but it can also constitute a means of asserting one’s identity or one’s distinctiveness from others. A common language may be the ideal vehicle to express the unique character of a social group, and to encourage common social ties on the basis of a common identity (Dieckhoff, 2004). Here it is argued that language can be a robust marker of social identity, capable of binding and dividing groups and that its salience may displace other (e.g. ethnic or religious) identities (Jaspal & Coyle, in press). It is primarily sociolinguistics which has concerned itself with questions of language and identity (e.g. Rampton, 1995; Harris, 2006) but here it is argued that a variety of social psychological theories of identity may complement and enrich the ongoing, primarily sociolinguistic, debate on the relationship between language and social identity.
|Published - 2009