The human identity simply states who an individual is. Numerous factors impact the identity but language, is one of the conditions of identifying a person. Using a certain language an individual can be defined as a member of any particular group because it is a significant element of any world culture. The language, which one uses to communicate influences his/her self-esteem, gender identity, social identity, national identity, cultural identity, religious identity along with many other identities. Another crucial feature of language for an identity is its means of conveying the culture from generation to generation. It is through language that a person expresses and transmits the culture and its values. Language is both content and code between external and internal interpretations of one’s identity. Talking a certain language, an individual strongly associates himself/herself with the nation and culture of that language that leads to the close connection of the ethnical identity to the language he/she is speaking.
Language makes a substantial contribution to the formation of identity. Each person is born in the same way and experiences the same stages in life but the environment, in which each human is reared, is different as well as the language to which he/she gets accustomed to. Thus, this makes individuals identify themselves with a particular language and culture that differentiates people from others (“Language and Culture”). Due to the use of the language, a person identifies himself/herself with the language group to which he/she belongs. Hence, representatives of one nation are usually characterized by the same habits, stereotypes as well as similar self-identities. Language is a strong definer of culture, which can be explained as the total sum of ways of dwelling formed by a certain group of human beings that is transmitted from one breed to another (Zou). Every cultural group, community or ethnic group has not only the common language but also its own beliefs, values and ways of living that shapes one’s personality.
It is clear that the person who speaks one language associates herself/himself with the nation of that certain tongue but in the modern world, people are often bilingual. Should they get in trouble to identify themselves with any of the nations? Quite frequently, modern individuals change the place of living several times during their life that makes them accustom and start identifying themselves with the new culture. The researchers assert that having lived several years in one country, a person starts to fully associate himself/herself with the new culture (Kroll et al.). Thus, it can be concluded that one’s identity can alter several times during life depending on the language choice. However, the investigations and observations prove that a person usually claims his/her identity to be the native country (Kroll et al.). Rare, people identify themselves with the state of current living and not the one where he/she was born. It often occurs when an individual moved to another country in the unconscious age and his conscious memories are associated with the second nation. For example, a family lived in Spain where they gave birth to a baby but the financial crises made them move to the USA; thus, their child associates himself/herself with that new and native for her/him country, namely the USA.
On the other hand, bilingualism is a factor that shows human intellectual level and deepness of self-identity. It is a common thought that the quality of ethical identity depends on the number of languages one is able to speak. Being bilingual, an individual has an opportunity to travel around the world and discover other cultures with the help of their languages. Then, the self-identification with his/her own country grows, as comparing other cultures with the native one leads to deeper understanding of the latter. Even after moving to another state for a temporal living, a bilingual person has a strong national ethical identification that makes him/her return home repeatedly.
Language is a vital factor when it comes to national or social belonging and exclusion. Moreover, language is a powerful tool that can both unify and divide the population. For example, Urdu and Hindi that managed both unite and split the nation on one territory (Awadh et al.). The official language of India and Urdu, namely Hindi, as well as the national language of Pakistan are derived from the colloquial Hindustani. Additionally, Hindi has a great Sanskrit influence, while Urdu is characterized by the heavily Persianized vocabulary. The major differences between Hindus and Muslims are religious and ideological ones, as Muslims borrowed the Arabic script and Hindu employed the traditional Devanagri script. Thus, the politically imposed difference between Hindi and Urdu caused the political and cultural division between citizens. However, in Pakistan, the language was used to unify people because being a national language Urdu managed to overcome the linguistic diversity inside the country and became its lingua franca. Hindi also played the role of unifier, since it made the Indian citizens one nation (Awadh et al.). Therefore, the two nations are the exclusion, as a modern day Hindi uses heavy Sanskrit borrowings and cannot be understood by a speaker of Urdu.
Benefit from Our Service: Save 25% Along with the first order offer - 15% discount, you save extra 10% since we provide 300 words/page instead of 275 words/page
One more interesting example of the language role in the formation of identity, belonging and exclusion is the situation of French and Arabic in modern Lebanon. Throughout the centuries, Muslims and Christians in Lebanon have lived together; the two communities united since Christians as well as Muslims considered Arabic their language. However, the time passed and the communities were divided to the Muslims as Arabic speakers and Christians as French speaking population. Moreover, the global English language also emerged as the powerful second language that brought no sense of identity or belonging. Nevertheless, the occupation of Syria played a role of belonging as Lebanon citizens denied Arabic as a language of Syria (the occupant) and paid special attention to the French language that was a belonging item. By showing their detachment or indifference to Arabic, and by adopting French they are making a new identity that differentiates them from Muslims who speak Arabic. Thus, the language is a tool that can form both sense of belonging and exclusion that strongly influences the human identity. Consequently, the sense of belonging to a particular language group makes a different human identity as well as the process of exclusion.
To conclude, a person is born without any cultural and social belonging but in the course of life, the surroundings such as country, nation, social environment of an individual defines his/her identity. The language group to which one belongs is a strong tool with regard to their identity, as he/she adopts all the habits, believes of that peculiar group. However, there are many bilinguals who live in several places during life and thus talk in several languages. Hence, such people usually associate themselves with the nation where they were born and its language; that is why just in case they move to other country they adopt the language identity of the new nation. The language unites the nation, as well as induces the sense of belonging and exclusion. Hindi and Urdu were the languages spoken in India but some conflicts among the religious minorities caused a division in the population. The same thing is common for Lebanon where both religions, Muslims and Christians, speak French and Arabic. Nonetheless, the war with Syria that is the Arabic speaking state made the country unify concentrating on the French language; thus, the Syrian conflict caused the sense of language belonging in Lebanon that influenced the formation of citizens’ identities.
Related Society essays
- African American Social Work/Welfare Pioneer Booker Taliaferro Washington
- Influence of Class on Leisure Practice
- Understanding Culture and the Way It Influences Social Behavior
- Sabathani Community Center
- Exam: the Mass Society Theory