The Relationship between Dialect and Identity in the Documentary American Tongues

The Relationship between Dialect and Identity in the Documentary American Tongues

Document details
Category: Linguistics Essay
Subcategory: Psychology of Language
Words: 1065
Pages: 3

American Tongues Response EssayThe documentary American Tongues (1987) examines an array of American dialects and accents in all regions of the United States, as well as the perceptions tied to specific ways of speaking. The film does this by interviewing people of multiple ethnicities, geographical locations, education-levels, and socio-economic classes. The information presented in American Tongues makes the audience consider its distinct way of speaking and the insight it may provide to those around them. The film clearly shows that the way individuals speak, as well as the diction they choose to use or eradicate from their vocabulary, is intricately tied to their identity. Dialect is a form of a language, typically confined to a particular area, that uses its own words, grammar, and pronunciation. Some dialects are more noticeable than others, and can be used to discern where an individual was raised. Peer influence has a huge impact on how we speak, especially as children, because it gives us the ability to relate to people who have similar interests and goals as us. This is beneficial to our emotional health and the main way to connect to people is through language. As a result of the practice of language and dialect, we form a social identity similar to our peers and may feel ostracized or uncomfortable when we are around people who dont talk in a similar manner. For example, one of the black teenagers from the film showed signs of embarrassment because she didnt use the same dialect as her two friends she preferred to use less slang. The two other girls attributed this variance to her being more proper than them, characterizing her as different from their perceived norm. Identity not only encompasses ones beliefs and expressions, but also ones qualities. The film shows how our qualities can be reflected in our speech, such as Amelia being proper. These qualities make up an identity. An identity can belong to an individual or...

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