Personae can be understood as recognisable social types, such as the “nerd girls” in Bucholtz’s (1999) study of communities of practice in an American high school, or the “hard-core gang-girl” in Mendoza-Denton’s (2011) study on the social meaning of creaky voice. The term persona is useful because it allows us to distinguish between locally available identity positions (such as the nerd girl) and larger macro-demographic categories such as gender or socioeconomic class. Language is one of many social semiotic systems which speakers can utilise in the construction of personae. For example, in Mendoza-Denton’s (2008) study of Latina gang girls, she found that speakers used language choice (e.g. Spanish or English) combined with specific hair, make-up and music styles in order to construct specific types of gang-girl personae.
Bucholtz, Mary. 1999. “Why be normal?”: Language and identity practices in a community of nerd girls. Language in Society 28(02): 203-223.
Mendoza-Denton, Norma. 2008. Homegirls: Language and cultural practice among Latina youth gangs. Malden, Oxford & Victoria: Blackwell Publishing.
Mendoza-Denton, Norma. 2011. The semiotic hitchhiker’s guide to creaky voice: Circulation and gendered hardcore in a Chicana/o gang persona. Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 21(2): 261-280.