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tianalovesyou's avatar

Different perspectives on how language shapes identity?

Asked by tianalovesyou (711points) November 10th, 2015

I am developing my Theory of Knowledge question, for my IB class. My question is “What is the role of language in the development of identity?” I need at least two different perspectives, but I am struggling to come up with perspectives that are different. Any ideas or opinions? The link is my real life situation that I am basing it on, but if there are ones that better prove points, then I can switch.

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5 Answers

elbanditoroso's avatar

I haven’t read the article, and I don’t intend to.

But just off the top of my head, I have the following thoughts:

- from the point of the majority population – for example: in the US, where most people speak English, how language in a majoritarian population affects identity, education, employment, etc.

and then contrast that to the minority population in the same country, and how that affects identify, employments, etc.

And if you want to go even deeper—how does ‘black English’ compare to ‘southern English’ and ‘Boston English’ and ‘Chicago English’ as specific subcultures.

I can see lots of directions where this would go.

RandomName's avatar

Language is a universal medium for communication between individuals, as well a tool that encourages the exchange of ideas and human thought. The spoken word is complimented by body language that further enables a message to be conveyed. Regardless of how one may communicate with others orally, one’s mannerisms can offer a unique flavor to their words and clarify the intention behind their statements. Simultaneously, it shapes identity because it allows the human being to become animated by offering a means for articulating an inner world that comes to surface once it is expressed verbally.

janbb's avatar

My grandsons were both born in France. English (American) is spoken at home and French outside. When the oldest comes to America, he immediately switches to fluent English. The younger – aged 2 – is not really speaking yet and we are waiting to see what his “native” language will be. How this shapes identity, I’m not totally sure but it must be an influence on it.

dappled_leaves's avatar

The perspectives you can present around this question could easily depend on the country you’re considering. In America, people tend to think that not speaking English is a dreadful barrier to acceptance within the wider culture, while in some European countries, people typically speak four languages with ease. In some countries, language is tied to national identity (recent questions on Fluther remind me of the Catalonians and Basques), in the sense of wanting to create a separate territory for speakers of that language (i.e., people of that culture).

Also, preserving language can be a proxy for preserving a culture. Think of efforts within native North American communities to keep their languages taught in schools, or to preserve their words in text rather than orally. This also happens in Quebec, with Bill 101’s strict regulations on the use of English, or in certain regions where Gaelic signs and language classes are maintained in order to keep the people from forgetting their heritage.

cazzie's avatar

I moved to a foreign county as an adult. I had a child here. Due to the father’s (a native speaker) choice of level of involvement with his child, my son grew up with English as a first language even though he was born in a non-English speaking country. Now, he is 11 and identifis himself as a foreigner instead of a native.

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