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Building Community: Identity, Interdiscursivity and Language Choice in Everyday Narrative. Zane Goebel Graduate School of Letters, Nagoya University JAPAN. 1. INTRODUCTION.

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Building Community: Identity, Interdiscursivity and Language Choice in Everyday Narrative

Zane GoebelGraduate School of Letters, Nagoya University


1 introduction

Aim - to show the relationships between everyday narrative (EN), code genesis and identity/community formation projects in a diverse setting.

Thesis – My main argument is that:

  • by participating in EN (and conversation more generally) old-timers and newcomers alike are engaged in ongoing identification projects.
  • Part of this process is the building of new linguistic repertoires that are indexed (but never fixed) to a particular identity.
1 1 how the paper will proceed
1.1 How the paper will proceed
  • Language, Socialization & Identity (Re)production.
  • Narrative Analysis
  • Fieldwork methods & setting
    • Methods
    • Local patterns of exchange
    • Enregistered varieties
  • Building community, identity and linguistic repertories
  • Social identification and reification across speech settings
  • Conclusions

2. Language, Socialization & Identity (Re)production

  • Language Socialization - Through observation & participation in recurrent settings newcomers learn, that is, index linguistic forms with context > forms part of CC (e.g. Ochs 1988).
  • Communities of Practice (COP) – identities, communities, and the meaning of linguistic forms are outcomes of their negotiation in situated interaction (e.g. Wenger 1998)
  • A COP can be as small as two participants.
  • Social Identification is constantly evolving and relies upon the appropriation of resources from various timeframes (Wortham 2005, 2006)
  • Social identification relies upon the linking of linguistic forms from one speech situation to the next = “interdiscursivity”
timeframes tf social identification reification
Timeframes (TF), social identification & reification


Initial Situated



Local styles = lang + context)


Subsequent interaction


Styles as a result of participation in other COP

LONGEST TF (Resource Set 1)

Enregistered varieties (Agha 2003) that link social persona and characteristics with linguistic forms


Resources and indexical relations built in procedural timeframe increasingly mediate appropriation of Resource Sets 1 & 3

3 narrative analysis
3 Narrative Analysis



Some Differences

  • Gathered using interviews
  • Life Histories
  • Performance
  • One teller
  • Casual Conversations
  • Recent events
  • Not performance
  • Multiparty


  • Often about problematic events or things that run counter to teller’s expectation (Ochs & Capps 2001; Ochs 2004)
  • Used to socialize newcomers about community expectations
4 1 methods details in goebel 2000 2002 2005
4.1 Methods (Details in Goebel 2000, 2002, 2005)

4 Fieldwork Methods and Setting

  • Based on 2.5 years fieldwork in two RT in Semarang
  • Primary fieldwork methods drawn from EOC (e.g. Hymes) & interactional sociolinguistics (e.g. Gumperz), including:
    • participation in, recording, observation of interactions, such as monthly meetings, working bees (Kerja bakti), religious festivals (halal bihalal, natalan, pengajian, etc.), daily conversations among neighbors, sporting events/games
    • Post-recording playback interviews
    • Use of questionnaires in the last few months of fieldwork asking for judgments about social relationships based on transcribed talk and contextual info.
    • Semi-structured interviews in the last month
4 2 local patterns of linguistic exchange
4.2 Local patterns of linguistic exchange

Table 2: Indexical relationships between code choice & context

  • Reflected prolonged (1-8 years of interaction), frequent (daily or weekly) and intense (more than just a greeting)
  • These locally developed styles with their links to context are local language ideologies (see Appendices B & D)
  • These styles are “contextualization cues” and/or resources which help signal intent and interpret talk in interaction.

4.3 Enregisterment in Indonesia

  • Enregisterment can be defined as processes which produce a register that is differentiatable within a language. These processes rely on meta-discourse in literature, media + adoption in schooling. Such processes help index social characteristics and personas to a language variety over time in public spaces (Agha 2003; 2006).
  • Education and the popular mass media have unintentionally enregistered ethnic identity with language in Indonesia, e.g. “Indonesian as a language of the stranger” and “local languages as the language of insiders” and “adequation” (Goebel 2007, Forthcoming, Under review) See Appendix E.
  • Such enregistered varieties can be appropriated and recontextualized in situated interaction.

5 Building community, identity and linguistic repertories

  • Look at talk that occurs in 2 re-occurring female RT meetings.
  • Usually the heads of household would attend, though of the 23 households rarely were there more than 15 attendees.
  • There were was one newcomer, Bu Zainudin, who attended both meetings.
  • To visually represent what newcomers might perceive I have put Indonesian in plain font, ngoko Javanese in redbold, and bold italics indicates those forms that can be classified as either ngoko Javanese or Indonesian).
As can be seen in lines 1-5, 7-8 Bu Naryono states her expectations for RT members through pointing to someone who has deviated from these expectations.
  • The expectations:
    • Make contributions to the upkeep and running of the neighborhood,
    • Attend neighborhood meetings.
  • Note also that while Bu Naryono mentions these expectations, it is Bu Joko and Bu Sumaryono who cite solutions or sanctions.
  • Thus, we can say that there is a co-construction of RT norms and what it means to be a member of this RT (IDENTITY).
We can see the inter-related nature of “social practice” and “identity” through seeing expectations about practice simultaneously defining what social characteristics contribute to identity or membership in this setting.
  • The “us” and “them/her” dichotomy being invoked here is given further emphasis through recourse to local language ideologies, longer-term ideologies (i.e. enregistered forms) and resources from membership in other COPs
  • Especially the ideology of regional languages (in this case ngoko Javanese) as the language of insiders and Indonesian being for conversations with outsiders.

Extract 2 Socialization through language usage: (Re)producing norms for speaking conduct

What is interesting in the above extract is the alternation from ngoko Javanese on lines 13-14 to Indonesian on lines 14-15.
  • In this case it can be classified as “codeswitching” because in contrast to her earlier alternation between I and NJ which could be found within one sense unit, here there is a clear pause separating different code choices.
  • It helps highlight insider-outsider relationships with ngoko Javanese being used by an insider, Bu Naryono, and Indonesian being reportedly used by Bu Tobing, the deviant outsider.
  • Are these repertoires i.e. NJ among locals appropriated by observer (Bu Zainudin)??
I interpret Bu Zainudin’s usage of NJ forms soalé “the problem/because” and bawaké “to bring something for someone” (lines 6 & 8) as evidence for developing linguistic repertoire indexed with these participants.
  • This is so because Bu Zainudin actually knew both NJ & KJ but chose not to use it in all of the interaction > testing the interactional waters
  • In subsequent interactions over the 2.5 years fieldwork was undertaken these speaker moved increasingly to NJ exchange in an (inter-ethnic interaction)
6 conclusions
6 Conclusions

In bring this all together perhaps the most important point is:

  • There is a difference between competence in a language variety and a developing communicative competence
  • The later is tied with a particular community of practice, a new linguistic medium, and an emerging identity, such as “regular attendee of RT meetings”, “reliable payer of RT dues”, “frequent conversation partner”, and “increasingly competent user of ngoko Javanese”.
  • In this sense our newcomer, Bu Zainudin, can be seen to have chosen not to continue the exchange in ngoko Javanese because she is aware that doing so may have been indicative of a type of identity that wasn’t yet ratifiable.
thank you



References Cited and other useful sources

Agha, Asif. 2003. The social life of cultural value. Language and Communication 23: 231-273.

Agha, Asif. 2006. Language and Social Relations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Alvarez-Cáccamo, Celso. 1998. From 'switching code' to code-switching. In Peter Auer (ed.) Code-switching in conversation: Language, interaction and identity. New York: Routledge.29-48.

Auer, Peter. 1995. The pragmatics of code-switching: A sequential approach. In Lesley Milroy and Pieter Muysken (eds.) One speaker, two languages: Cross-disciplinary perspectives on code-switching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.115-135.

Gafaranga, Joseph. 2001. Linguistic identities in talk-in-interaction: Order in bilingual conversation. Journal of Pragmatics 33: 1901-1925.

Gafaranga, Joseph, and Maria-CarmaTorras. 2002. Interactional otherness: Towards a redefinition of codeswitching. The International Journal of Bilingualism 6: 1-22.

Gardner-Chloros, Penelope. 1995. Code-switching in community, regional and national repertoires: The myth of the discreteness of linguistic systems. In Lesley Milroy and Pieter Muysken (eds.) One speaker, two languages: Cross-disciplinary perspectives on code-switching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.68-89.

Goebel, Zane. 2007. Enregisterment and Appropriation in Javanese-Indonesian Bilingual Talk. Language in Society 36: 511-531.

Goebel, Zane. Under Review. Language, Region, and Ethnicity in Indonesia. Bijdragen tot de Taal, Land- en Volkenkunde.

Goebel, Zane. Forthcoming. Enregistering, Authorizing and Denaturalizing Identity in Indonesia. Journal of Linguistic Anthropology, 18/1.

Gumperz, John Joseph. 1982. Discourse strategies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Hymes, Dell. 1972. Models of the interaction of language and social life. In John Joseph Gumperz and Dell H. Hymes (eds.) Directions in sociolinguistics: The ethnography of communication. New York: Holt, Rinehart, & Winston.35-71.

Ochs, Elinor. 1988. Culture and language development: Language acquisition and language socialization in a Samoan village. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

References Cited and other useful sources

Ochs, Elinor. 2004. Narrative lessons. In Alessandro Duranti (ed.) A Companion to Linguistic Anthropology. Oxford: Blackwell.269-289.

Ochs, Elinor, and L Capps. 2001. Living Narrative. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Oesch-Serra, Cecilia. 1998. Discourse connectives in bilingual conversation: the case of and emerging Italian-French mixed code. In Peter Auer (ed.) Code-switching in conversation: Language, interaction and identity. New York: Routledge.101-122.

Schieffelin, Bambi B., and Elinor Ochs (eds.). 1986. Language socialization across cultures. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Wenger, Etienne. 1998. Communities of Practice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Wortham, Stanton E. F. 2005. Socialization beyond the Speech Event. Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 15: 95-112.

Wortham, Stanton E. F. 2006. Learning Identity: The Joint Emergence of Social Identification and Academic Learning. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.