Summary Of Ben Rampton's Crossing: Language And Ethnicity Among Youth

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Ben Rampton (1995) in his book Crossing: language and ethnicity among adolescents, comments on how youth use language varieties belonging to other groups. Rampton (1995) identifies ‘crossing’ as a practice among male British youth in creating different speech styles for negotiating identities within a multicultural London environment.
Code- crossing can also be used in place of language crossing. Rampton (1997:1) proposes that language crossing “involves a sense of movement across quite sharply felt social or ethnic boundaries and it raises issues of legitimacy that participants need to reckon with in the course of their encounter.” To unpack language crossing, he describes how a multiracial British working class community mixes
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This has meant that language variation has been “looked into in relation to categories and distinctions that have relevance for particular youth cultures” (Androutsopoulos & Georgakopoulou 2003:5). Such an approach has shown how language is used by youth to display their lifestyles and also to draw on symbolic systems, such as clothing brands, body posture and mode of walk to show belonging.

Before unpacking communities of practice, I discuss the use of speech communities in understanding youth practices. A speech community is defined as a group of speakers who share norms and rules for the same language (Eckert and McConnell-Ginet 2003). Gumperz (1972a:16) is of the view that members of the same speech community need not all speak the same language nor use the same linguistic forms on similar occasions. All that is required is for there be at least one language in common and rules governing basic communicative strategies be shared. In this way, speakers are able to decode social meanings carried by alternative modes of
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Conversely, in a speech community language in one aspect of defining a community. She further argues that the community of practice model is best suited as it enables understanding of the various degrees of community participation, and how this can be a foundation of community and identity. Weis and Fine (2000) argue “comprehending youth, and their identities, is not an easy task, for they and the contexts they move in are always under construction.” Therefore, utilising the approach of communities of practice for exploring linguistic practices as a tool in understanding how youth perform their identities suits the fluid nature of male youth

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