A Brief Overview of How Identity can be Reflected Through Language

A Brief Overview of How Identity can be Reflected Through Language

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.

Hey guys, here is my second article for the month of August and my first article related to Unit 4 AOS 2, which is about individual and group identity. This article gives a very brief overview of some ways that identity can be reflected through language.

As you would know, language is a major marker of identity. As you discussed in unit 3, language can be used to help promote in-group solidarity and social harmony.

Lexical choices are one of the main ways that people reflect their identity.

One type of lexicon used to reflect identity is jargon. Jargon helps people to reflect their identity, primarily in relation to an occupation or a hobby as the technical language is likely to only be understood by certain people. One (excessively common) example the jargon used in VCE, such as the acronym, “SAC,” and the phrase, “study score,” being used by students to reflect their identity as a student. In terms of finding examples that are more essay friendly, (so not excessively common, boring, and overused), your workplace (if you have one) and any other external organisations that you are involved in are good sources of examples for jargon.

Another type of lexicon used is slang. Slang is similar to jargon in the ways in which it promotes group identity, although it is significantly less formal. Slang is generational and tends to evolve and change with time and therefore it is an effective means of reflecting a person’s identity as being from a particular era, as well as reflecting their identity as being a member of a certain group. In March, an article was released that helped to demonstrate how slang can reflect identity. The article listed and explained 10 slang terms that are associated with the game Fortnite. Terms such as, “storm troopers,” (which is used as a dysphemism) and the shortening, “mats,” help to promote a sense of group identity among those who play the game.

The entire article can be found here: https://www.keengamer.com/article/17874_fortnite-battle-royale-10-essential-phrases

There are many other language features (outside of lexicon) that help individuals and groups to demonstrate their identity.

One particularly common form of language that reflects and promotes identity is idioms. Idioms come under the subsystem of semantics. One social group who use a lot of idioms are teenagers (although a lot of Australians use them). Some of the idioms commonly used by teenagers include, “Sh*t bricks,” (react in a way that demonstrates fear), and, “off his/her face,” (heavily intoxicated). The use of these idioms can help to promote a sense of identity as they are often used by an, “in-group,” and therefore the use and understanding of them helps to foster a sense of individual identity as a member of that group.

This article is not in any way an exhaustive list of the ways in which identity can be conveyed, as there are features that come under all subsystems. Anyway, I hope this article has helped you and there will be another one soon.


If you loved this article, you will LOVE all of our other articles, such as: How To Structure A Comparative Essay (VCE English Tips)2U Maths Tips from a Past Student (98 in 2U Maths)! and Chemistry – Oxidation & Reduction explained!

 – LearnMate Tutoring.


LearnMate is Australia’s leading tutoring agency offering private lessons in all primary & high school subjects including English, maths, science, humanities, foreign languages, and so much more. Our mission is simple: to provide professional, engaging and enthusiastic tutors to students, while also ensuring the student feels empowered and confident during their assessments! Ultimately, our goal is to empower students all over Australia to achieve amazing results and make their dreams come true!

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A Brief Overview of How Identity can be Reflected Through Language