Heteroglossia in text-messaging: performing identity and negotiating relationships in a digital space

Tagg, Caroline (2016). Heteroglossia in text-messaging: performing identity and negotiating relationships in a digital space. Journal of Sociolinguistics, 20(1) pp. 59–85.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/josl.12170

Abstract

This article uses Bakhtin's concept of heteroglossia to explore how linguistic repertoires are exploited in the performance of identity and management of relationships through text-messaging. The study focuses on text-messages sent and received by ‘Laura’, a middle-class woman who has returned from university to her family home in rural England. Qualitative analysis of Laura's texted exchanges, informed by quantitative corpus data and ethnographic interview, details the role of heteroglossia as Laura and her interlocutors position themselves in relation to each other and negotiate differences in gender, class, education, past experience, and personal aspiration. The study shows how heteroglossia can emerge even in interactions between individuals from similar backgrounds with largely shared language resources, and highlights the need for sociolinguistic studies of linguistic repertoire to consider the part that digitally-mediated linguistic resources play in individuals’ wider identity projects.

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