Identities in interpersonal interactions: from intersubjective performance to cultural change
Identity is fundamental to the communication process. What we say and what we do are strongly influenced by the way we define who we and others are, in a given social context. We thus call upon our multiple identities - our own and those of others - to make sense of and for one another in interpersonal communication. This fundamentally social (intersubjective) and dynamic process is simple enough for every normally socialised adult to master without thinking, yet describing and analysing that apparently simple process is altogether another matter.
Firstly, when we go about trying to understand what goes on in an interaction, how we make sense of and for one another, we need to take into account underlying cultures and basic knowledge of codes, norms, representations and values that we use to understand the physical and social worlds and the place we occupy in them, including knowledge of language(s) and communication competence. Secondly, we need to think about the social situation we are in, the respective roles we are playing, the relationships which link us to the people we are with, our prior knowledge of them and their different identities, what and whom they may be representing, their aims and goals, as well as our own. We need to take into account our immediate environment, the various pressures which may be weighing upon us, our physiological and emotional condition and those of our interlocutors. Finally, we must be attentive to the immediate interactional context: what has already been said and done in the encounter so far, the identities which have been implicitly or explicitly evoked, mutually established cues as to what we and others are thinking, how we and they are feeling, how various parties have suggested they might react to a particular line of action, and so on. It is the necessity to master simultaneously all of these different considerations, and others, that makes interpersonal communication such a complex matter, to study or even ‘simply’ to perform.
Building on symbolic interactionist approaches to interpersonal communication as a process combining prefigured and emergent forms and involving intersubjective identification, this presentation will seek to provide a comprehensive framework to help us take into account the different levels of ‘sense-making’ at work in an interaction. In doing so, it aims to shed light on the relationship between cultures and interactions, between the macro, the meso and the micro, and the multiple mediations at work as we move from one to the other. Finally, we will think about interactions as the locus of cultural change and about the fundamental role played by identities in this ongoing social process.
King’s College London, UK
Making the political personal: Rescripting stories & identities on social media
Small stories research (Georgakopoulou 2007; 2008) has argued for a shift of emphasis to the relational construction of self through everyday life, often fragmented and ‘incomplete’, stories. More recently, I have shown how small stories genres and social practices associated with them proliferate in various social media platforms (2013, 2014), partaking in processes of circulation and user-generated content. In this talk, I will single out what I call rescripting as a social media-enabled practice that involves visually and verbally manipulating previously circulated stories, in particular through spoof videos and comments on YouTube. My focus will be on news stories involving incidents with politicians in the context of the financial crisis in Greece, that have become viral. First, I will show the forms that rescripting takes and the modes of audience engagement connected with them. I will then argue that rescripting allows personalization through story making on two levels: making the politicians ‘ordinary people’ and placing the ‘users’ in current affairs as storytelling participants, thus rendering public incidents as ‘their’ stories. Finally, I will discuss the implications of these narrative-related identity and (dis)identification positions for socio-political engagement on the one hand and for narrative & identities analysis on the other.
University of Łódź, Poland
email@example.com Language and leadership in online discussions
The focus of the present paper is to identify, by means of linguistic and discourse analysis of online discussions, most active users and, through this, to make an attempt to determine the most characteristic identity properties of the leading positions and leadership in CMC.
As convincingly argued by Atkinson et al. (2012), it is much less problematic to detect dominance and leadership in encounters engaging vision such as in interaction on platforms which offer such a possibility and, primarily, in face-to-face encounters. By examining body posture and gestures, paralinguistic properties of intonation, tone of voice, etc., as well as, most often, having outside knowledge of the interactant’s social position, rank, etc., dominance can be revealed almost fully automatically from non-verbal behavioural clues.
The paper presents a first attempt to identify dominance and leadership in online discussions of newspaper articles (compare Trusov et al. 2010) referring to political and social matters on the basis of English and Polish comments. The results, juxtaposed also with face-to-face interaction data, shed some light on the idea of the primacy of certain interactional properties such as those represented by the Interconnectivity Value (Lewandowska-Tomaszczyk 2012, 2015) as well qualitative features of the language used, including stand, degrees of assertiveness, metaphoricity, and so on, to identify most influential online users. These linguistic properties are proposed to be important predictors of online discussion leadership, which are likely to contribute towards understanding personal attributes of linguistic attractiveness as judged by other community members and the influence on online sites activity. Predictions of this kind can carry vital significance not only for research purposes, but they also constitute an important aid for managerial staff, ad buyers and online application-based specialists to improve precise targeting of site members and online users in general.
Atkinson, J. D., Rosati, C., Stana, A. and S. Watkins (2012). The performance and
maintanace of standpoint within an online community. Communication, Culture and Critique 5.4. 600-617.
Lewandowska-Tomaszczyk, B. (2012). Blurring the boundaries: A Model of Online
Computer-Mediated Communication Activities (OCA). In: Adam Bednarek (ed.) Interdisciplinary Perspectives in Cross-Cultural Communication. Muenchen: Lincom Publishers. 8-35.
Lewandowska-Tomaszczyk, B. (2015a). Emergent Group Identity Construal in Online Discussions: A Linguistic Perspective. In: Frauke Zeller, Cristina Ponte and Brian O’Neill (eds.). Revitalising Audience Research: Innovations in European Audience Research. Routledge. 80-105.
Lewandowska-Tomaszczyk, B. (2015b). Dynamicity axis and stand as identity indicators in
Face-to-Face and Compter-Meiated-Communication. Paper delieverd at ICA Lodz Regional Conference, 9-11 April 2015.
Trusov, M. A.V. Bodapati, & R.E. Bucklin (2010). Determining Influential Users in Internet
Social Networks. Journal of Marketing Research Vol. XLVII (August 2010), 643–658.
King Saud University College of Arts Arabic Department, Saudi Arabia
Forms of Address in Arabic News Interviews
It has been widely accepted that forms of address can provide information about the way that individuals regard each other, and reflect social relations among speakers. Using conversation analysis approach, this paper examines qualitatively some examples that demonstrate the tendency by Arab participants to decrease the distance among themselves during formal news interviews. Previous studies have discussed the level of formality indicated by forms of address in news interviewers in Anglo-American and Australian news interview, and found that journalists tend to use formal terms to address their guest/s, either referring to their professional or institutional role (e.g. Doctor, Prime Minister) or employing their title plus surname (e.g. Mr. Howard). Guests, in contrast, usually address the interviewer by his/her given name (e.g. Catherine, Matt). With respect to Arabic interviews, this papers shows that Arab interviewers occasionally address their guests by their given name or using teknonymic forms, while Interviewees add forms of address such as ‘my brother’ and adjectives such as ‘dear’ to address their guests. These examples indicate that the way in which participants address each other can act as a means of personalizing the interview and making the interaction more relaxed and friendly.
Åbo Akademi University / University of Birmingham, Finland/UK
'The prologue of my story' – collective identities in accounts by adult children of migrants
Stories, long or short, elicited for research purposes or occurring in everyday talk, have proven to be a fascinating site for the analysis of identity positioning (see e.g. Georgakopoulou 2006, De Fina 2003). An analytical differentiation between represented and enacted contents illuminates the different ways that the speaker creates who they are and how they wish to perceived at the present moment (Wortham 2001). The focus in this paper is on accounts by adults whose parents were migrants to Finland, Sweden and the UK. The participants are of different backgrounds when it comes to for example age, occupation, and parents' country of origin, and the data was collected as part of an on-going study on questions of language and identity in the post-migration generation. Through talking about their parents' journeys of migration, the participants align themselves with collective identities of the family, at the same time as they may evaluate the represented contents to reflect their personal views and value judgements. Using an approach outlined by Wortham (2001), the analysis is built around linguistic cues such as reported speech and evaluative indexicals as sites of negotiation of identity. This paper hopes to highlight how personal accounts tie with collective identities, and how the starting point of a life story need not be the birth of the speaker. As expressed by one of the participants in the study; in a story about her life, her parents’ story would be the prologue. References: De Fina, A. 2003. Identity in Narrative: A study of immigrant discourse. Amsterdam & Philadelphia: John Benjamins. Georgakopoulou, A. (2006). Thinking big with small stories in narrative and identity analysis. Narrative – State of the Art. Special Issue of Narrative Inquiry 16: 1. 122-130. Wortham, S. 2001. Narratives in Action: A Strategy for Research and Analysis. New York & London: Teacher's College Press.
University of Gdańsk, Poland
Language and Albanian self-identity
Albanian language played a siginificant role in the construction of Albanian self-identity in the 19th century during the period of Albanian national awakening which had place from 1878 to 1912. This process was influenced by Albanian political leaders, historians as well as intellectuals and writers. In the nineteenth century Albanians were one of the most isolated people in comparison to their neighbours in the Balkans. The country also faced some other serious obstacles which effectively retarded the process of self-identity constructing. There was no single cultural, economic, administrative or religious centre which could play the role of an unifying national factor. Under these circumstances where most of the factors which usually help in building self-identity Albanian language was this factor which became the main element of national unity. After approximately five centuries under the Ottoman domination Albanians discovered the chance to develop an independent country. Albanian nationalist leaders propagated the language as an instrument for achieving national independence. Albanian nationalist activists considered albanian language to be the most important aspect in the construction of self-identity, which played an extremely great role in preserving cultural and political Albanian existence. Albanian language underwent the evolution transforming from a legal feature which was used mainly to mark the existence of the Albanian nation and self-identity in the first stage of the Albanian national movement to a functional perception imagining the Albanian language as a factor which internally unites Albanian self-identity being under constructing.
Isa Yusuf Chamo
Department of Linguistics, Bayero University Kano, Nigeria
Language and Identity in Africa: An Analysis of the Use of Place Names as Part of Person’s Name in Hausa
Place names are labels attached to one’s surroundings. The concept of identity helps to describe the way individuals and groups define themselves and are defined by others on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion, language and culture (Deng 1995:1). Identity distinguishes one group from another and is also an instrument that people use to present themselves to other people that are different from them. It also involves the question of “We and They”. Hausa is the name by which the people of the ethnic group call themselves and are understood as such by many other people, though, of course, different peoples have different local names for them. Hausa is also the name of the language of the people (Adamu 1974:1). Hausa is a major world language, spoken as a mother tongue by more than 30 million people in Northern Nigeria and Southern parts of Niger, in addition to the Diaspora communities of traders, Muslim scholars and immigrants in urban areas of West Africa (Southern Nigeria, Ghana and Togo, and the Blue Nile Province of the Sudan). It is widely spoken as a second language and expanded rapidly as a lingua franca (Jaggar, 2001:1).This paper investigates the use of place names as part of person’s name in Hausa. The aim is to find out why some Hausa people used place names as part of their personal names. An ethnography research method and questionnaire are used to collect data and social identity theory to analyze the data. The result of the analysis shows that some Hausa people use place names to construct personal identity which reveals the place they belong. It also reveals that place names can serve as an identity markers both from an individual and social point of view.
University of Iowa, USA
Girls Creating Power Asymmetry
The existence of speech differences based on gender has long been acknowledged by sociolinguistic and related theories. Even Jespersen noted that women tend to be more conservative than men, avoiding slang and profanities and are more prone to euphemisms (Haas, 1979). Indeed, the works of Lakoff (1973, 1975) and Tannen (1975, 1979) show a wide gap between male and female genderlects within certain social groups. Their research, however, is almost solely based on circles of white middle-class Americans, and therefore hardly universally applicable. In fact, more recent developments exemplified by the research of Goodwin (2002), Bucholtz (2002) and Baxter (2009) show that various socio-economic and even cultural factors can alter the ways and degrees to which genderlects differ, when they do. This paper presents a small-scale study on building power asymmetries in the discourse of sixth grade girls during a drawing task in an EFL class in Belgrade, Serbia. Three girls were told they are a part of a school-wide competition, and that they had to draw 4 elements (of varying complexity) on the whiteboard using only one marker. They had to negotiate issues like the distribution of the elements to draw, the possession of the marker, the right to add or erase parts of each other's work, etc. The findings suggest that when placed in a time-sensitive, competitive environment, the discourse of twelve year-old girls from working-class families in Serbia is anything but cooperative, polite and directed towards building intimacy, characteristics which are too frequently attributed to women’s talk. e.g. 1 ali nemoj da mi sve obrišeš jer ću da te ubijem but don't me all you-erase because I-will you I-kill But don't erase all [my work] or I will kill you. 2 ućutite! stvarno ste dosadne shut up-IMP-PL really are-you-PL annoying Shut up! You are really annoying!
Institute of English Studies, University of Łódź, Poland
“The Other who speaks from my place”: the structuring of the symbolic identity through language in Ian McEwan’s The Children Act
The main protagonist of Ian McEwan’s latest novel is Fiona Maye, a 59-year-old High Court Family Division judge, who has to arbitrate in a problematical case of a Jehovah Witness teenager refusing to undergo a blood transfusion, the only reliable treatment for his leukaemia. But Fiona’s judgement in this case has to be reached when she herself is in a state of personal crisis and instability: her marriage is breaking down. After visiting the leukemic boy in the hospital, the judge develops an emotional bond with him, but her professional rigidity commands her to sever it. The paper endeavours to employ theoretical tools supplied by Jacques Lacan’s theory in order to examine the role of language in structuring Fiona’s symbolic identity. As she conceals the kernel of her subjectivity, deciding to openly adopt the conventions of the Symbolic Order, Fiona is interpellated into a public persona of a judge. In this way, she becomes ensnared by Lacanian Big Other, the unconscious system of interrelations, and also the system of language. She undergoes what Lacan calls ‘symbolic castration’, the split between her direct psychological identity and the symbolic identity bestowed upon her by the title she wears. Captivated by the legal discourse and by the signifiers of social class which structure her reality, she compliantly disowns her desire and maintains her secure stable position in the world.
University of Łódź, Poland
"The ruled take over the language of their rulers" - Post-Colonial Identity Through an English Lens.
In my paper I attempt to analyze the problem of identity of contemporary authors of Indian novel written in English through a lens of their post-colonial language. One of the most significant features of this "new" Indian novel is its subversive use of the English language as, according to Ashcroft et al., authors of "The Post-Colonial Studies Reader", "language is a fundamental site of struggle for post-colonial discourse because the colonial process itself begins in language." In the Indian context this subversive variety of English has been diversely named. Authors and critics speak of among others "hinglish", "masala English", "chutnified English" and this variety, nativized and acculturated, juxtaposed with the standard English imposed by the colonizers, is an excellent tool in the process of the appropriation and redefinition of the language of the metropolitan centre. In my paper I attempt to examine Indian post-colonial English and, using the examples of selected contemporary Indian novels, try to discuss the ways in which these writers carry the weight of Indian (post-)colonial experience and define their identity in order to, to use Salman Rushdie's famous words, describe the phenomenon of "the Empire writing back with a vengeance."
Hulya Emek Grosse
MS-TESOL student, USA
L2 and L3 Turkish Speakers Perception of Accent Identification, Accuracy & Attitudes
This study investigates twenty eight adult female Turkish English language learners and their comfort level pertaining to English accents, their preferences regarding various types of accents, and their accuracy in identifying the four varieties of accents presented. In addition to the accent analysis, the study looked at whether or not the participants’ perceptions of accents were impacted by their country of origin. The data obtained from the twenty eight adult native Turkish speakers whose L2 was English. Each participant listened to a one minute prompt read by four speakers with different accents of English: General American, Turkish, Uzbek and Crimean Tatar. . The findings revealed that when participants were asked to identify the country of origin of the four English accents, the majority of the participants (89 %) accurately identified the speaker’s country of origin. Although all of the subjects’ first language is Turkish, an unanticipated result was that Turkish subjects could not identify the bilingual (Turkish-Russian) Uzbek and Crimean Tatar speakers’ accents with a high percentage of accuracy. Similarly, bilingual (Turkish-Russian) speakers could not identify Turkish (natives of Turkey) accented speech successfully. Since Berger, Rosenholtz, and Zelditch (1980) stated that accented speech is supposed to be a status cue used to infer ethnic identity, this finding was unexpected. This is in contrast to the present study as well as Phoebe Riches & Margaret Foddy’s study (1989). The findings of this study suggest that Russian and Turkish speech properties play an important role in both identification and misidentification of the speech samples. Furthermore, the present study’s results suggest that the ability to identify the speaker’s perceived accent is influenced by familiarity.
Sapientia Hungarian University of Transylvania, Romania
Identity and language: the construction of a new minority (Hungarians in Romania after 1918)
The years 1918–1920 brought about great changes in the Transylvanian society, and in particular in the case of the Hungarian community. My presentation aims to outline the issues of displacement from a majority status to a minority one of the Hungarian community in Romania after 1918, based on the corpus of texts of articles published in the „Keleti Újság”. “Keleti Újság” [‘Eastern Newspaper’] was a Hungarian daily newspaper published in Cluj-Napoca between 1918 and 1944, and is considered one of the most important journals of the period between the two World Wars in Transylvania. Covering a large range of topics and genres (from politics to social issues, from literature to advertisements) it was also the most important periodical of the Hungarian community, publishing articles on the state of the community in the new political context, as well as overtly and covertly outlining attitudes towards the mother tongue and the language of the state that determine the way in which the new minority identity of the community was to be shaped. My presentation aims to outline the attitudes towards language in the theoretical framework of the monolingual paradigm, as well as to identify the strategies with the help of which the newspaper’s editors aimed to form the opinions of their readership regarding the attitudes towards the mother tongue and the language of the state. It also wishes to grasp how the new minority identity came into being through the lens of these attitudes towards the mother tongue and the language of the state.
MA TESOL student, Egypt
Different Factors Affecting Code Switching between English and Arabic