Styling One's Own in the Sri Lankan Tamil Diaspora: Implications for Language and Ethnicity

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This study focuses on the ways youth in the Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora in Canada, Britain, and the United States construct their ethnic identity when proficiency in their heritage language is limited. Though these youth claim only rudimentary proficiency in Tamil and identify English as their dominant language, they are nonetheless able to claim ethnic identity through strategic language practices. Different from Rampton's theorization of crossing, such acts involve self-styling. While crossing is transgressive, self-styling is affirmative. While crossing is ludic, self-styling is invested. Furthermore, while crossing has been studied mostly in terms of the tokens produced, this study illustrates the way receptive proficiency and nonverbal participatory practices can help style one's own. The study illustrates certain new configurations of language and ethnicity in diaspora life.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)124-135
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Language, Identity and Education
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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