Linguistic resources, social indexicality and interactional identity constructions - Contributions of interactional sociolinguistics to the study of language variation

Aktivitet: Tale eller præsentation - typerForedrag og mundtlige bidrag

Lian Malai Madsen - Foredragsholder

  • Institut for Nordiske Studier og Sprogvidenskab

It is an inherent aspect of human social interaction that we relate linguistic behaviour to broader systems of semiotic resources of a certain social indexicality (Agha 2007).  Sets of linguistic resources are ideologically constructed and conceptualised as systems of signs belonging together and related to certain places, social connotations, values, and images of persona. Metapragmatic processes of associating sets of semiotic resources with social meaning result in widespread cultural-specific historical formations or registers (Agha 2007: 235). Statistical accounts of linguistic features’ correlation with more or less refined social groupings offer only limited access to the relation between social meaning and language use. Register formation also involves widespread ideological constructions and indeed situated linguistic activities (see also Hanks 1996:130).    


In this presentation, I focus on the case of a register employed by youth in contemporary heterogeneous Copenhagen. I discuss aspects of this register in relation to the dimensions of formal linguistic features, situated interactional activities, and ideology. The presentation is based on my study of linguistic and social practices among youth in a martial arts club in Copenhagen (Madsen 2008). I argue that detailed micro-analyses of situated interactional activity add important insights to the study of language variation as well as to the interpretation of empirical work within the variationist sociolinguistic tradition. A holistic sociolinguistic framework is needed to capture the complex relationship between language and social meaning.



Agha, Asif (2007): Language and Social Relations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Hanks, William F. (1996): Language and Communicative Practices. Colorado: Westview Press.

Madsen, Lian Malai (2008): Fighters and Outsiders. Linguistic practices, social identities and social relationships among urban youth in a martial arts club. Copenhagen: University of Copenhagen.

26 jun. 2009

Begivenhed (Konference)

EmneSprogbrug og social mening i den senmoderne storby og sociolingvistiske forskningstilgange

ID: 14175582