Fergus O'Dwyer (in progress)

Language and identity construction in a Dublin suburb

This ethnography seeks to understand male adolescent identities within a Dublin suburb and the role of language in negotiating these identities in contemporary urban Ireland. Specifically, I want to find out what kinds of social groupings exist and how people make use of language and other social practices to negotiate their alignment with and dissociation to these grouping. In order to do that, I will focus principally on the members of a Dublin GAA club which functions as a central social institution in the area.

The identities, as defined locally, will be explored using participant observation, free recordings and semi-guided interviews. The data and recordings will be analysed qualitatively and quantitatively to determine how language contributes to the construction of these identities. The analysis will focus on salient variable linguistic patterns at the sociopragmatic (humour), and sound levels.

The investigation will examine (a) the variants for each variable, (b) their social and linguistic distribution, and (c) seek to understand the social meanings they negotiate. I will analyse and interpret how linguistic behaviour, attitudes and sociocultural factors contribute to the construction of local identity.