LingPaperFinal - Introduction A person’s identity is...

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Introduction A person’s identity is fluid, and while an identity may be influenced by the society one lives in, the society does not determine that identity. Mary Bucholtz’s “Language, gender, and Sexuality” argues that invoking categories is dangerous and that membership in a certain category implies a necessary result of a predictable linguistic and social behavior. Identity is “achieved and fluid, not assigned and fixed.” (Bucholtz, 410) While language is a social behavior, a person’s identity is not constant and changes based on surroundings. Bucholtz shows that identity can be a performance, where one tries to achieve a certain image by changing the language one uses. A category should be considered dangerous in terms of establishing an identity. Yet, categories are still used to describe and identify others, so we looked to identify these categories used in certain situations, why particular categories are used over others, and whether or not a different social environment induces a different description of that person. Leanne Hinton also showed things by any other name would change its identity. Certain terms once thought by an ethnicity or race to symbolize pride or honor could be struck down to shame and racism after discovering that the term was used in a derogatory sense in other cultures, possibly referring to prejudice held against one race by another among other reasons.(Hinton, 165) Terms could be used in trying to reclaim the term within a social network or looked on with disdain with the realization of what the term had meant. The belief that a rose under another name would smell just as sweet may not be true. Therefore, the way in which we, as a society, define a person, impacts the way we perceive the individual. On the other hand, the definition does not remove the true identity of the individual, but it should affect this identity, whether it is consciously affected or not. Question and Hypothesis 1 | P a g e
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For this project, we asked ourselves what terms were most appropriate (or least appropriate) to use in talking about people who appeared to be of a certain ethnic or racial background, and how the level of suitability of these terms change according to certain social contexts. We believed that there would be a difference in the terms used to describe a particular person in private and public contexts. We expected the terms used by the describer in a private context to be more comfortable, in terms of length of the term (the shorter, the better) and familiarity with its use, while the terms used in a public context were expected to be more precise, in terms of citizenship and culture of the particular person being described. This difference would be due to a difference in social pressures on the describer, where a stranger may be more apt to judge the describer based on the terms used to describe a particular person and a best friend may not have this same intensity of social pressure, due to the comfort one has built
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This note was uploaded on 03/13/2009 for the course MECHE chem1a taught by Professor Stacy during the Spring '09 term at American College of Gastroenterology.

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LingPaperFinal - Introduction A person’s identity is...

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