This paper examines the use of impoliteness by Spanish–English bilingual pre-adolescents as a resource for accomplishing identities in spontaneous conversational interactions in an elementary school setting. The theoretical approach employed integrates the concept of relational work (Locher 2004; Locher and Watts 2005), which is based on Goffman's (1967) notion of face and which privileges participants' evaluation of language behavior within the norms of the community of practice, with recent work in sociocultural linguistics (Bucholtz and Hall 2004a, 2004b, 2005). This approach views identity as an interactional achievement reached through the use of what they call tactics of intersubjectivity. In this analysis, negatively marked, non-politic behavior is viewed as an interactional resource, which, along with other resources such as codeswitching, bilingual speakers may employ for the purposes of alignment and stance-taking. Specifically, the paper examines how speakers use strategies referred to as impolite (cf. Culpeper 1996) in the performance of a variety of tactics of intersubjectivity to manage local identities (e.g., leader/follower, insider/outsider) as well as membership in broad social categories (e.g., gender, ethnic identities) in interaction, how they engage in conflict talk and what they gain from it, and how codeswitching is (and is not) used in interactions. This analysis is situated within the wider social context of language politics and immigration politics in the individual school, the region, and the US.


Languages, Literatures, and Cultures

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De Gruyter

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This is an article published by De Gruyter in Multilingua in 2008, available online: