This study, part of a larger project on the role of popular culture in language change and stabilization, takes a historical sociolinguistic approach to a small, specially-compiled corpus of (mostly mid-twentieth-century) songs featuring as theme tunes in Western films, in order to study what linguistic mechanisms are at work for the construction and reinforcement of (group) identities. Such identities pertain both to the protagonists of the films themselves and – albeit indirectly – to their viewers, whose empathy and emotive participation in the fictional events is elicited. Although the strategies on the basis of which these identities are created are historically situated, the patterns they establish may be shown to have had a lasting impact on later phenomena, such as those pertaining to the tourist industry. Typically, the memorability of the songs enables potentially obsolete views to maintain a certain degree of viability even among twenty-first-century audiences: as a result, identities acquire time depth and remain recognizable across decades spanning almost a century.
Feb 14, 2023
Feb 13, 2023