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Address Forms and the Construction of Multiple Identities among University Students in Ghana

Issue: Vol 1 No. 3 (2007)

Journal: Sociolinguistic Studies

Subject Areas: Gender Studies Linguistics

DOI: 10.1558/sols.v1i3.461


In the last two decades, there has been an increasing interest among scholars in the issue of identity in social domains such as academia, politics, religion, home, and workplace. Located in an academic setting, this study examines how university students express their identities through an important verbal behaviour, address forms. To accomplish this task, a two-pronged framework comprising social constructionism and identity theory is drawn upon. An ethnographic approach constitutes the primary research design adopted in this study. The analysis points to three key findings. First, Ghanaian students use three major categories of address forms: personal names, descriptive terms, and titles. Second, the university students' use of address forms constitutes an isogloss. Third, students use these three modes of address to express their multiple identities. These findings have implications for identity theory, intercultural communication, and future research in address terms.

Author: Joseph Benjamin Archibald Afful

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