Examining Identity

Examining Identity

This article has been written by Liam McAlary, a Years 7 – 12, VCE Legal Studies and VCE English Language Tutor at Learnmate. If you’re interested in private tutoring from Liam then please check out his page here.


Hello everyone, here is my article for August. I hope that you are all staying well during these unprecedented, historic and incredibly uncertain times. In spite of the pandemic, education must continue, and therefore so must my articles. This one will take a slightly deeper look at the concept of identity, which underpins the entirety of unit 4.

Across areas of study 1 and 2, unit 4 examines various elements of identity.

  • National identity (AOS 1, not this year due to COVID)
  • Cultural identities in Australia (primarily AOS 1)
  • Individual identity (AOS 2)
  • Identity as a member of group (AOS 2)
  • Variation according to age, gender, occupation, interests, aspirations, education, etc (AOS 2) (This is a separate dot point on the study design, although is heavily linked to individual and group identity)

Cultural identities:

The main ways in which cultural identities are reflected in Australia (that are still assessable this year) are Aboriginal English (reflecting the identities of members of the indigenous community) and ethnolects, which reflect the identities that people hold as a result of their cultural background. I have written an article that discusses and analyses Aboriginal English in depth (https://learnmate.com.au/overview-of-aboriginal-english/?fbclid=IwAR03Q8jtmQExr22B521B7PaGL2WNFmVjZmq_2k0Qlz1SHYD_pYX943HDsdo).

Moreover, ethnolects generally reflect a cultural background which is non-English speaking, and there is, ‘a growing trend for Australian-born children to embrace their cultural heritage by using new Australian Ethnocultural dialects,’ (Felicity Cox). The Felicity Cox quote is very effective at demonstrating the significance of ethnolects reflecting their cultural identity.

Individual and group identities:

Many of the features that were discussed in unit 3, both formal and informal, are useful for discussing identity, both individual and group. Group identity is a very similar concept to in-group membership, which was discussed in unit 3, where a person’s belonging to a particular group, influences their language choices. One obvious example of language being used to reflect group identity is teenspeak, as the language features are unique to the group, so are able to promote inclusion among users, and can exclude others, thereby further fostering group identity.

Furthermore, jargon and colloquialisms specific to a certain interest also help to promote a user’s identity as someone in a particular occupation, or with particular interests.

Additionally, a discussion in a recent session that I had with clients about one particular word showed how the way in which people use language reflects identity. The word that we spent around half an hour discussing was the noun, ‘football.’’ Australian Football, Association Football, and Rugby League are the main three sports which are referred to as football around Australia. Australian Football and Rugby League usually reflects a person’s identity in terms of where they are from, as people in New South Wales, Queensland and the A.C.T. tend to call Rugby League football, whereas Australian Football is usually referred to as football around the rest of the country. This shows local identity, identity in terms of interests (it’s no coincidence that Rugby League is more popular than Australian Football in the aforementioned states and the A.C.T., whereas the opposite is true around the rest of the country). Additionally, this also shows regional variation of lexicon in Australia. On a slightly different not, football being used to refer to Association Football tends to be a variation based on interest, thereby showing one’s identity as a fan of the sport. People who do not follow Association Football typically refer to it as soccer, as a means of distinguishing the sport from other codes, although it has also been as a means of expressing a dislike of the sport and as a means of insulting football fans. Consequently, the outward use of the term football enables fans of Association Football to show their identity as fans of the sport.

Anyway, I hope that this article proves useful for you, and I will have another one for you at the start of September.


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Examining Identity