5dez 2022
06:30 UTC

Me vs them: teen outlooks on language use

Using interviews conducted with teenage Swedish Estonians, I will explore which recurring ideas emerged from discussing teen language. Results signal differences in how speakers perceive themselves and others.
In recent years, youth language has been explored in various contexts, with the primary goal to describe which features less present in the speech of adults can be found in their language. By contrasting teens and adults, we mainly look at language use from a distance.
In these series of tweets, I will be exploring a more internal perspective and describe how teenagers themselves view their language and that of their peers. This overview is based on a small dataset; therefore, it should be considered more as an insightful commentary than a generalization. The data comes from semi-structured interviews with four Swedish Estonian bilingual teenagers (aged 12-17). The interviews were conducted as a pilot project for an ongoing study on the speakers' spoken language use. Using qualitative content analysis, I look at interview segments where speakers reflect on language usage topics.
Findings show that youth perspectives vary and depend on their background. However, some parallel remarks can be made. All four speakers contrasted how they versus others speak. When asked to name specific linguistic features, the speakers were prone to notice what makes them sound multilingual (e.g. code-switching) rather than teen-like.