This book examines the complex link between the national or ethnic identity of a people and the language they speak. It considers how identity functions for both groups and individuals, with particular attention to how we interpret the identities of others based on the way they speak. It looks too at how our ideas concerning particular languages such as English, including notions of what is 'good' and 'bad' English, are bound up with views of who the language 'belongs' to.
Language and identity is a current focus of research in a broad range of academic disciplines. This book tries to lay out the central issues, offering an original approach to the subject that treats identity as fundamentally a linguistic concept, and re-focuses attention from its production to its interpretation. It includes case studies on situations across the world, including Hong Kong, Lebanon, Scotland and Singapore. It considers too how identity interacts with language change and language shift, including the impact that the worldwide spread of English is having on other languages and their speakers.