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Language Culture and Identity an Ethnolinguistic Perspective Advances in Sociolinguistics

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Language, Culture andIdentity

Advances in SociolinguisticsSeries Editor: Professor Sally Johnson, University of Leeds Since the emergence of sociolinguistics as a new field of enquiry in the late 1960s, research into the relationship between language and society has advanced almost beyond recognition. In particular, the past decade has witnessed the considerable influence of theories drawn from outside of sociolinguistics itself. Thus rather than see language as a mere reflection of society, recent work has been increasingly inspired by ideas drawn from social, cultural and political theory that have emphasized the constitutive role played by language/discourse in all areas of social life. The Advances in Sociolinguistics series seeks to provide a snapshot of the current diversity of the field of sociolinguistics and the blurring of the boundaries between sociolinguistics and other domains of study concerned with the role of language in society. Discourses of Endangerment Ideology and Interest in the Defence of Languages Edited by Alexandre Duchne and Monica Heller Linguistic Minorities and Modernity A Sociolinguistic Ethnography (2nd edn) Monica Heller Language in the Media Representations, Identities, Ideologies Edited by Sally Johnson and Astrid Ensslin Language and Power An Introduction to Institutional Discourse Andrea Mayr and Bob Holland Multilingualism A Critical Perspective Adrian Blackledge and Angela Creese Media Sociolinguistics Policy, Discourse, Practice Helen Kelly-Holmes Language Ideologies A Critical Approach to Sociolinguistics Sally Johnson and Tommaso M. Milani

Language, Culture and ldentityAn Ethnolinguistic Perspective

Philip Riley

A continuum

Continuum The Tower Building 11 York Road London SE1 7NX Philip Riley 2007

80 Maiden Lane Suite 704 New York NY 10038

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or any information storage or retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publishers. Philip Riley has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988, to be identified as Author of this work. British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library, ISBN: 978-08264-86288 978-08264-86295 Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publicaution Data A catalog record for this book is available from the Library of Congress.

Typeset by Data Standards Ltd, Frome, Somerset, UK. Printed and bound in Great Britain by Athenaeum Press Ltd., Gateshead, Tyne & Wear

For Marianne Sine qua non


Acknowledgements Chapter One: Introduction 1.1 Theoretical and historical background 1.1.1 The sociology of knowledge 1.1.2 Ethnolinguistics Chapter Two: The social knowledge system 2.1 Notes on the concept of culture 2.2 Structures and functions of the social knowledge system 2.3 The social learning process 2.4 'Culture' as knowledge: cultural markers 2.5 Knowledge, identity and competence Chapter Three: Identity 3.1 Identity studies: some issues and approaches 69 3.2 Social identity: you are what you know 3.3 Communicative practices, roles and acts 3.4 Membershipping strategies, phatic communion and greetings 3.4.1 Membershipping strategies 3.4.2 Phatic communion and greetings 3.5 Rearing practices Chapter Four: The Stranger 4.1 The Stranger: a social type 4.2 Anomie, recognition and citizenship 4.3 Pragmatic failure 4.4 Compensation strategies Chapter Five: Reconfiguring identities 213 5.1. Ethos and the communicative virtues 5.1.1 Ethos 5.1.2 The communicative virtues 5.2 Negotiating identities in intercultural service encounters

viii 1 3 3 8 21 21 30 32 39 52 69 69 86 92 113 113 124 133 161 161 173 189 200 213 213 213 215 219

Table of Contents

A T 5.3 Standardization and scaffolding 234 5.3.1 Standardization 5.3.2 Scaffolding Chapter Six: Conclusion 243 References Index

229 229 234 239 229 245 259



The text of this book includes passages from a number of articles I have published over the past twenty years. I am grateful to the editors of the publications in question for permission to use them here: (1987a) 'Who do you think you're talking to? Negotiation, perception and categorisation processes in exolinguistic discourse', in V. Bickley (ed.), Languages in Education in a Bilingual or Multilingual Setting. Hong Kong: Institute of Language in Education, pp. 118-33. (1987b) 'Social identity and intercultural communication', Levende Talen, 443, 488-93. (1991) 'Having a good gossip: sociocultural dimensions of language use', in Roger Bowers and C. Brumfit, Applied Linguistics and Language Teaching. Basingstoke: Macmillan, pp. 53-64. (1992) 'What's your background? The culture and identity of the bilingual child, in C. Brumfit, J. Moon and R. Tongue (eds), Teaching English to Children. London: Collins. (1996) 'Developmental linguistics and the competence/performance distinction', in G. Brown, K. Malmkjaer and J. Williams, Performance and Competence in Second Language Acquisition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 114-35 (1999) 'On the social construction of "the learner"', in S. Cotterall and D. Crabbe, Learner Autonomy in Language Learning: Defining the Field and Effecting Change. Bayreuth Contributions to Glottodidactics vol. 8. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang. (2000) 'Je vous ai compris. Aspects ethnolinguistiques de la comprhension', in J. Pcheur (ed.), Une didactique des langues pour demain, No. Special LeFrancais dans le Monde. Paris: CLE International, pp. 7995.VIII


(2001) ' All je parle qui? Salutations, communion phatique et ngotiation d'identits sociales', in F. Carton (ed.), Oral: variabilit et apprentissages, No. Special Le Francais dans le Monde. Paris: CLE International, pp. 87-96. (2002) 'Epistemic communities: the social knowledge system, discourse and identity', in G. Cortese and P. Riley, Domain-specific English: Textual Practices across Communities and Classrooms. Bern: Peter Lang, pp. 41-64. (2003a) 'Self-access as access to Self: cultural variation in notions of self and personhood', in D. Palfreyman and R. C. Smith (eds), Learner Autonomy Across Cultures: Language Education Perspectives. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 92-109. (2003b) 'Le "linguisme" - multi-, poly-, pluri-? Points de repres terminologiques et sociolinguistiques, in F. Carton and P. Riley (eds) Vers une competence plunlurgue, Le Francais dans le Monde No. Spcial, pp. 8-17. (2004) 'Multilingual identities: "Non, je ne regrette rien"', The European English Messenger" XIII, 1, pp. 11-17. (2005) 'Ethos and the communicative virtues in exolinguistic service encounters', in G. Cortese and A. Duszak (eds), Identity, Community, Discourse: English in Intercultural Settings. Bern: Peter Lang, pp. 167-82(2006) 'Self-expression and the negotiation of identity i Discourse: English in Intercultural Settings. Bern: Peter Lang, pp. 167-82(2006) 'Self-expression and the negotiation of identity i language', International Journal of Applied Linguistics, 16.3, 295-318. I also owe thanks to: Jenny Lovel of Continuum for suggesting this book in the first place and then having the patience to wait for it; Katja Riley for her invaluable help and expertise with computers and Marianne Riley for literally taking over as my right hand and typing large sections of the manuscript.


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TSome years ago, I went on a short working visit to Hong Kong, and since it was to be my last visit to that marvellous place for the foreseeable future, I took my wife and our fifteen-year-old daughter, Katja, for a fortnight's holiday before work started. We had been there three or four days when I noticed that Katja wasn't her usual cheerful self. So I asked if anything was wrong. 'Well, yes,' said Katja. 'We are behaving like tourists.' 'But Katja, love, we are tourists!' She brushed this objection off, though, so I asked what sort of thing she was thinking of. 'Well, we for example only go to restaurants where there are other Europeans and the menu is in English. I want to see the authentic China, and go in restaurants where there are no tourists.' I resisted the temptation to point out that if she was there, there would be a tourist, and just said, 'Oh, right, well I'll see what we can do.' So the next time we wanted to eat, we found a little popular restaurant, just off the Jade Market, where we were the only tourists. In such restaurants, there are no menus: instead, the walls are covered with notices. In Chinese. 'Right, Katja', I said. 'It's your turn to order.' She got the point, and said to the waiter, 'Three of those, please,' pointing at random to one of the notices over our table. Off went the waiter, and we sat back and watched the dishes being provided to other diners. Snake soup. Piles of goose tongues. Pork with black mushrooms. As the minutes ticked away, our excitement grew. What would we get? At last, the waiter returned and, with something of a flourish, presented us with three plates of sausage, bacon and eggs. To this day, we still don't know if that is what we really had ordered, or whether the waiter had just decided for us that we were the sort of people who wanted bacon and eggs. Whatever the case may be, it was a real learning experience for Katja (and one which, I have to say, she took very well indeed, laughing till the tears came). She learnt that our1

Language, Culture and Identity

identity is not just something we can decide on ourselves. Because it i at least partly social, our identity is decided on - 'constructed' - by other people. And if they are in a position of relative power, like the waiter, they can take decisions for us, and

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