Updated May 12, 2022

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The article offers a study of identity from the linguistic perspective, taking into account that language and culture are indispensable constituents of someone`s identity.

The article is aimed at revealing the role of identity as a multitudinary notion and influence of verbal and non-verbal means on its construction, since quite often, interlocutors, interviewees choose not to reveal explicitly their real communicative purpose. The object of investigation is actually celebrities`s identity. The subject of investigation is various approaches to identity construction. The material of investigation is interviewing with stars, mainly video fragments.

The topicality of the research is predetermined by the necessity of revealing specific stylistic features and pragmatic strategies in the process of verbal interaction, which help us to focus on implied intentions and meanings.

The creation of identity cannot exist separately from performance, practice, ideology, indexicality. Except for this, identity is more than simply the source of culture, it is the outcome of it. Elinor Ochs`s exposition of the linguistic indexing of gender exhibited the full treatment of indexicality in relation to identity. Ochs observes that linguistic structures become associated with social categories indirectly through semiotic associations. Also, she notes that some particles are used to mitigate the force of an utterance, but it is more visible in women`s language. As language is considered to be the foundation for cultural production, hence it is also the resource for identity production.

Material based on interviews gives the opportunity to make sure that identity inheres in actions, not in people. It is very interesting to consider the notion of celebrities` identity from Goffman`s Dramaturgical Model. In Erving Goffman`s book ‘Presentation of Self’ one can find explanations for identity construction process. To his mind our life is like a series of performances and his main concern is notion of impression management. E. Goffman asserts that people create impressions with the help of sign vehicles which include both language and body language. The creation of such impressions is possible with expressions, which he divides into two different kinds: the expressions we give ( the intentional poses, various facial expressions and other controlled language); the expressions we give off (elements over which we have less control, incompatibilities between words and actions, the body language which may “give us away”). Moreover, impressions are made within contexts or settings, it is especially appropriate talking about actors because they work in different settings and it may influence their performance during an interview. Goffman differentiates between the front stage of our life in which people interact in public or professional settings and the most back stage as a rule at home or any other environment where we can ‘be ourselves’. While being interviewed, for instance, we can speak here about situated identity, it defines us in reference to the role we are playing at a given time. It happens so that stars try to be sincere and close to public, nevertheless they keep in mind that should present self to others in favourable light.

Moreover, while considering the concept of face it is relevant to resort to Brown and Levinson`s politeness theory. Their theory is based on Goffman`s face theory as a result, they expanded it adding two faces – positive and negative one. Brown and Levinson argue that when people interact they recognize each other’s desire to have their faces supported, when interviewers show their respect and honour it helps interviewees a lot. These sociolinguists define face as something that we want from others. Brown and Levinson’s (1987) politeness theory deals predominantly with face-threatening acts, in other words “those acts that by their very nature run contrary to the face wants of the addressee and/or speaker”. Face-threatening acts can be toward our positive face and/or negative face, and caused by acts we engage in ourselves or the acts of others toward us.

People`s faces and celebrities` in particular are context bound, the situation predetermines the performance of a specific face. Similarly, culture has a decisive effect on the faces people enact in front of the camera as well as certain constraints due to cultural specificities.

Identity is a very complex and debatable notion, therefore exist various theories that facilitate understanding of this notion. Another example of such theory is Identity Management Theory, which belongs to Cupach and Imahori, their theory is universal since it unites culture, competence, identity, and is interconnected with face theory. Imahori and Cupach try to explain that “face is the communicative reflection of people’s relational and cultural identities, and thus effective identity management requires competent facework”. Theory in question proves that during interaction with others, our identity is reflected in the face we display, which includes a cultural component. Developing their theory, Cupach and Imahori detail how reactions to our cultural identity during interactions affect face and also produce face-threats.


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NOTION OF IDENTITY IN LINGUISTIC STUDIES. (2022, May 12). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/notion-of-identity-in-linguistic-studies/


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