Language as a Symbol of Group Membership

  •  Narjes Ghafournia    


Whenever we speak in a particular language variety rather than another, we display an affinity with one socialgroup distancing ourselves from other social groups. The identity–marking function of speech is as important asthe communicative one. The type of language variety, people use, makes a considerable contribution to shapetheir social identities. This means that the people with high social or political status should often carefullycontrol their language styles in order to exert profound influence on people's attitudes to meet desiredexpectations. In fact, social class-based language differences may have more important social implications thanregional variations. In many class-conscious societies, particular varieties associated with lower social classes,may be greatly stigmatized by the members of the society. Hence, the speakers of less prestigious varieties mayoften lose many educational and occupational opportunities unfairly. However, a language variety in linguisticterm is more expressive, logical, regular, and correct than social varieties. Therefore, making any valid judgmenton the superiority or inferiority of a particular language variety is concerned with social and political affairs anddoes not have any linguistic merits. The article also discusses the relation between language variety andcognitive ability of language users based on Bernstein’s theory and the critics.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.