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About Me:18-year-old sixth form student, studying English Literature, History and Government and Politics. My articles will broadly cover topics from the current affairs of politics to reviews of books and albums, as well as adding my own creative pieces, whether it be short fiction or general opinion.
Someone’s idiolect is their own personal speech habits, peculiar only to themselves. However, this peculiarity is not innate; it is created, like a concoction, by many factors: someone’s geographical location, their class, their profession, their education etc. And so, this begs the question as to whether an idiolect can be wholly original, can the concoction be so astutely detailed that it differs from all the rest; can it really be described as a linguistic fingerprint?
Using myself as an example, I will look into the fundamentals that make up my idiolect. Firstly, I was brought up in South-East London, as were my parents, which is a working-class area. As a result I have adopted the dialect of that particular area. For example, I commonly use the word “nah” instead of “no”, which I have picked up from the idiolect of my parents and the sociolect of a working-class area. However, despite these commonalities, there are some stark differences between the idiolect of myself and my brothers, and my parents. This would mainly be down to the fact that my brothers and I have received a far greater education than my parents and a far more well read, and thus not only is our vocabulary wider, but the way in which we write is far more grammatically and structurally sound compared to them. With this education has also come jargon, which is specific to subjects. For example, my brother and I may speak about the legitimacy of a party’s mandate, something my parents would have no knowledge about, and as a result make it outside of their idiolect.
My brothers’ idiolects and mine differ only slightly. This would largely be down to the fact that each of us share similar interests, have been brought up in the same area with the same parents, and at a similar level of education. However, they are nuanced in that both of my brothers have gone off to university to separate cities, and have consequently picked up the sociolect of the areas in which they lived. For example, one of my brothers attends the University of South Wales and since has begun to incorporate “like” into his sentences (something characteristically Welsh) where he hadn’t before.
So, seeing as the idiolects of my brothers and my own idiolect differ only slightly, does this disprove the idea that someone’s idiolect can be classed as a linguistic fingerprint? If we were to maintain the same level of education, the same interests and same geographical location, would we differ at all? If not, then we would not have wholly original idiolects and thus this would in fact debunk the idea that an idiolect is a linguistic fingerprint. However, given the almost inevitability of us not being able to maintain those factors, it could ring true that idiolects are distinct and are solely original, and that it is only in the most extreme cases where it would be the same for two people.
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