Everywhere we go, we meet different people, speaking many languages that tell their social histories. While our histories are diverse, we make meaning of these experiences through our languages that are connected to our races, ethnicities, social class, and even religion, by outsiders. However, what is the relationship between language and identity? For sociologists and linguistics alike, exploring the connection between language and identity is a popular research direction since the two aspects are almost interdependent. Social identity is defined as all the aspects that communicate who an individual is, depending on their membership to social institutions. Thus, the first connection between language and identity is that linguistic resources that individuals use in daily life can be traced directly back to their social histories.
According to Bauman (2000), individual identity is the direct outcome of social processes that are determined by our affiliations and the resources at our disposal. This means that social identities and the roles that individuals take over are shaped by various communities and groups where the individual is a member. As the member, therefore, the linguistic resources of your world become part of your identity and when relating with others or outsiders, you become an agent. For example, a white male born in a wealthy family (upper class) has connections to individuals of his class and when interacting, will adopt a unique pattern of identification and language use. If such an individual met another person from a working-class household from the same neighborhood, they would have different identities and language use despite their proximities. The differences between these individuals, therefore, would be created by the opportunities available to them, such as schooling types, peers, and hobbies, which together form an identity. Therefore, language and identity play a significant role in the formation of social histories that different one individual from the next.
Another vital link in the relationship between language and identity is the connection to culture, as a people’s way of life. When discussing the relationship between language and identity, mentioning their close connection to culture is inevitable. For researchers in the field, language is formed by culture and vice-versa, while the membership to a culture influences identity. In any society, language and culture play a role in the creation of identity, as members who follow the stipulated linguistic rules thrive while those that overlook them feel excluded. Language, thus, does not just form an identity, but it also creates the parameters for various forms of inclusion or exclusion. For example, an immigrant family might be comfortable in a new country and for some time, their new society will understand their entry, however, after some time, members of the immigrant family realize that even while they speak the language of the new society, it is tough to belong and in such instances, ascribing to linguistic patters also dictates success or failure. The language used in a community, therefore, can create the conditions for members to succeed or fail, where non-natives can find themselves at a considerable disadvantage, whichever wat they turn.
Thus, the relationship between language and identity is indisputable since linguistic rules play a role in creating identities. Nevertheless, while language and identity are closely interwoven, culture as a factor plays a significant role in limiting or encouraging them to thrive. For example, in America, many immigrant families have become citizens and notably, they have made the country multicultural. However, despite multiculturalism, national cohesion is established on a unifying language (English) and as a dominant language, it colonizes and marginalizes all others. Thus, for immigrant families, the death of their cultures and identities is a necessary sacrifice since there is no room to encourage their ethnicity to thrive. This summation is particularly accurate for younger generations born in America that grow up learning in English and in cases where parents do not encourage a connection to their ethnic languages or cultures, the social histories are abandoned.
At Unemployed Tutors, our writers are experienced at writing essays on the relationship between language, identity, and their connection to culture, especially in multicultural societies. Trust the experts to help you submit the perfect essay now!
Place an order with us and get a paper that matches your instructions, language style, and submission requirements.