'Ja toch?' Linguistic style, discourse markers and construction of identity by adolescents in Amsterdam
Gerda H. Schokkin
James Cook University, Cairns, Australia
Recently, across Europe a large amount of attention has been paid to new language varieties used by adolescents from immigrant backgrounds, often dubbed ‘ethnolects’. This study focuses on a number of conversations involving adolescents of a Turkish, Moroccan and Dutch background from Amsterdam. Both quantitative and qualitative methods were used to find out whether the use of discourse particles maar and toch, and linguistic style in a more general sense, could be related to identity construction.
There are a number of interesting differences between the ethnic groups, especially in the use of the phrases je weet toch and ja toch; the first one is used to a much larger degree by speakers of Turkish and Moroccan background, whereas the second is completely absent from the Dutch participants’ speech. However, detailed conversation analysis shows that what speakers do is not determined by their ethnicity, and speaker agency plays an important role in identity construction. They use linguistic styles as tools in order to align or disalign with their interlocutor and/or particular groups in society. Sometimes they turn to ‘performative’ language use and it remains unclear whether they voice themselves or others, allowing them to speak out about socially controversial subjects.
Key words: ethnolects, discourse markers, identity construction.
ISBN 9783862881710. LINCOM Studies in Sociolinguistics 11. 100pp. 2011.