Edited By Inke Du Bois and Nicole Baumgarten
Asian American girls who speak African American English: A subcultural language identity. A. Lane Igoudin
Asian American girls who speak African American English: A subcultural language identity A. Lane Igoudin 1. Introduction “The age of identity is upon us,” wrote Mary Bucholtz and Kira Hall in their seminal study of identity from the sociocultural linguistic perspective (Bucholtz and Hall 2005: 608). The last 20 years have indeed seen a flourishing of studies of identity and its relationship to lan- guage. First, a communication perspective views identity as a performance of attitudes and beliefs recognized by a community (Lemke 2002), one that emerges and exists only through linguistic interaction (Bucholtz and Hall 2005). Discourse thus provokes, conditions, and activates various sides of an individual’s social identity. Children learn to recognize linguis- tic markers of actions and attitudes of those around them and use these markers “to instanti- ate certain social activities and identities” (Ochs 2002: 113). Meanwhile, social psychologi- cal perspectives view identity as an individual’s self-image, which combines personal and social components (group membership) with the mental capacity to categorize the other (Haarmann 1999; Liebkind 1999). Finally, the sociological viewpoint emphasizes the con- nection between the ethnicity and language within a person’s social identity. If ethnicity1 (including race in the U.S. context) offers the most common framework for constructing social identity, “language provides the most elementary means for fulfilling the task” (Haar- mann 1999: 63). As such, in an ethnic group, language ensures the continuity of the group’s history and culture, and reinforces the group’s boundaries. To a minority speaker of a majority language, the...
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