Style and Language Use among Youth of the New Immigration: Formations of Race, Ethnicity, Gender, and Class in Everyday Practice

Shalini Shankar*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Scopus citations


In this article I consider "style" as a linguistic and cultural concept that can demonstrate how identities performed through language use are linked to topics of central concern in studies of immigrant youth, including racial and ethnic formation, generational cohorts, acculturation, assimilation, and gender. I draw on anthropological and sociolinguistic approaches to style not generally considered in migration studies and present ethnographic data of two cliques of Desi (South Asian American) teens in a Northern California high school. I argue that analyses of youth style can substantially complicate assimilation frameworks by highlighting the ways in which young peoples' linguistic practices may not fit neatly into commonly used analytical categories of "immigrant" and "American." Focusing on how political economy and local histories inform power and difference that shape migration experiences for youth, the article moves beyond routinely examined areas of heritage language retention and loss to analyze the significance of youth performances of heritage languages as well as English.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)646-671
Number of pages26
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2011



  • Migration
  • South Asian Americans
  • class
  • language
  • race and ethnicity
  • style
  • youth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)

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