Language as a badge of identity Essay

894 Words Mar 28th, 2014 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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Australia’s linguistic innovation displays individuality and opposes claims that slang is borrowed from America. Australian English shows both national pride and identity.

Teenagers are at the age when they are starting to establish their identity. Neologisms are created by teenagers to claim a different identity from that of children or adults. As adults become more familiar with these lexemes and their use, teenagers abandon them or alter the semantics and use to maintain a linguistic barrier. A good example of this is the well-known acronym “lol” which stands for Laugh Out Loud. As more adults become aware of this lexical item and start to include it in their daily texts, teenagers have brought it into speech as an exclamatory and discourse particle. The case of the letters now also alters the semantics; when typed in lower-case, “lol” is sarcastic whilst “LOL” in capital letters shows true amusement. It is evident that this constant changing of terms by teenagers is a sign of rebellion and an effort to keep a linguistic barrier between themselves and adults, thus maintaining a separate identity. The malleability of the lexicon is taken advantage of by teenagers to form a linguistic barrier between themselves and unwanted people such as adults and other teenagers who don’t belong in their group. Thus, a unique identity is