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Language and Identities

Edited by Carmen Llamas, Dominic Watt

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This volume offers a broad survey of our current state of knowledge on the connections between variability in language use and the construction, negotiation, maintenance and performance of identities. Bringing together the expertise of distinguished international scholars in specially commissioned chapters, the book provides a thematic reader and essential resource for advanced students and researchers in language and identity studies.

Leading scholars consider:

  • Theoretical and methodological approaches to the study of language and identity
  • Individual identities
  • Group and community identities
  • National and supra-local regional identities

Dealing sequentially with both social and personal identities at various levels, the chapters use detailed empirical evidence to illustrate how the multi-layered, dynamic nature of identities is realised through linguistic behaviour. Several chapters in the collection focus on contexts in which a heightened sense of identity might be expected: cases in which identities may be disputed, changing, blurred, peripheral, or imposed. Such a focus on complex contexts allows clearer insight into the identity-making and -marking functions of language. The collection approaches these topics from a range of perspectives, with contributions from sociolinguists, sociophoneticians, linguistic anthropologists, clinical linguists and forensic linguists.


A1. Introduction: Theoretical and Methodological considerations, Carmen Llamas and Dominic Watt
A2. Identity, John Joseph
A3. Locating Identity in Language, Mary Bucholtz and Kira Hall
A4. Locating Language in Identity, Barbara Johnstone
B1. The role of the individual in language variation and change, Jane Stuart-Smith
B2. The identification of the individual through speech, Dominic Watt
B3. The ageing voice: changing identity over time, David Bowie
B4. Foreign Accent Syndrome - between two worlds, at home in neither, Nick Miller
B5. The disguised voice: impersonating accents or speech styles and impersonating individuals, Anders Eriksson
C1.The authentic speaker and the speech community, Nik Coupland
C2. Communities of practice and peripherality, Emma Moore
C3. Two languages, two identities? the bilingual community, Norma Mendoza-Denton and Dana Osborne
C4. Regional variation in ethnic varieties, Erik Thomas and Alicia Beckford Wassink
C5. Religion vs. geography: is there a hierarchy? Sue Fox
C6. Gender, sexuality and the 'third sex', Kira Hall, Lal Zimman and Jenny Davis
C7. Crossing into class: Language, ethnicities & class sensibility in England, Ben Rampton
C8. The glass ceiling? a female identity in the workplace, Louise Mullany
D1. Convergence and divergence across a national border, Carmen Llamas
D2. Shifting borders and shifting regional identities, Joan Beal
D3. Supra-local regional dialect leveling, David Britain
D4. Migration, national identity and the reallocation of forms, Judy Dyer
D5. An historical national identity? The case of Scots, Robert McColl Millar
D6. Post-colonial identities: an African perspective, Tope Omoniyi.

About the Author

Carmen Llamas lectures in sociolinguistics at the University of York. She is co-editor (with Dominic Watt) of Language and Identities (2010) and (with Peter Stockwell and Louise Mullany) of The Routledge Companion to Sociolinguistics (2007). Her research deals primarily with phonological variation and change in the North East and the Scottish-English border region.

Dominic Watt lectures in Forensic Speech Science at the University of York, UK


[This volume] has a much wider scope, since it addresses all aspects of identity, not just national identity. While the latter type is touched upon in several chapters, others deal with gender identity, social class, ethnicity, age, forensic linguistics, or language disabilities, such as Foreign Accent Syndrome. In this respect, this collection is unique, for it enables any student of linguistics, applied linguistics, sociolinguistics or linguistic anthropology to come to grips with a large collection of short and accessible articles written by leading academics in their fields. The volume succeeds in not being simply a collection of case studies, in that each chapter is an open gate to a wider field of study and research. The first section on ''Theoretical Issues'' is also a particularly welcome addition to this volume, with some excellent articles by leading scholars in contemporary sociolinguistics. This section fully succeeds in providing the reader with an adequate toolkit for the analysis of identity through and association with language. Finally, this volume is also unique in its bringing together studies on variationist and interactionist sociolinguistics in almost equal numbers, thus helping to demonstrate that both angles are not as far apart as can sometimes be heard… An extremely useful resource to students and confirmed academics alike.
- James Costa, Ecole Normale Supérieure in Lyon, France, LINGUIST list
This book is a tour de force, a rare combination of comprehensive scholarship, insight, fresh thinking and wisdom. The splendid editing has produced assured writing as well as authoritative views and analysis throughout, and this means that however complex the ideas, it is remarkably easy to read. This is, by far, the best book on this topic in the English language. Language and Identities provides a thematic reader and highly suitable source for postgraduate courses, and thus should influence a wide audience of future researchers in language and identity studies.
- Robert Bevan, School of Welsh, Cardiff University, Wales, Discourse & Society

The book is a valuable contribution to the slowly growing body of works on the identity-marking dimension of language. By providing readers with a strong theoretical grounding on the subject, a wide range of methodological approaches to consider, and a broad range of empirical studies by respected specialists from various fields, this book about language and identity will surely find its way in many libraries, course outlets, reference lists, and citations for years to come.

- Isabel Pefianco Martin, Ateneo de Manila University, English World-Wide