The Roles Of Languages In Culture

1048 words - 4 pages

Role Of Language In Identity Formation Cultural Studies EssayPeople that have multilingual background face complex issues in adapting and assimilating their language to cultural identity that they want to be identified with. People create their linguistic structure so as to bear a resemblance to those of the group with which from time to time they wish to identify. Cultural identity is defined as the product of social and historical background that is constructed when an individual categorize themselves a group, in addition to social context and ethnically accustomed communicative structures in a particular society (Jung and Lee,2004). Language serves as a tool that embraces one's identity and operates as a mean of uniting a cultural community that share the same collective identity.In the process of identity formation, language functions as a tool that holds the cultural identity that the language resembles. Professor Ngugi Wa Thiong'o, an African scholar and Kenyan author claims that "language is a carrier of culture" (cited in Ka'ili and Ka'ili). He explains that the distinctiveness qualities that a culture possessed for example, its own value, custom, principles, faith, ideologies and the ways of life are embed in its own language. Ka'ili and Ka'ili (1998) gives an example about the relationship between language and identity that is embedded in a culture of faka'apa'apa to the variety of status in Tongan social hierarchy; this cultural customs is conceded in the Tongan language of respect. A Tongan speaker will utilize variety form of Tongan speech to express the level of faka'apa'apa that is ethnically suitable for the person ones is speaking to. This illustration demonstrate the role that language play in the process of identity formation.Lanehart (1996) in her article alleges that "language is a part of one's culture and identity". In the article, Laneheart explains the connection between language and identity and how they are related with each other. She claims that "our identities emerge from our transaction" which is develop within a culture, whither language is essential. Lanehart relates language and identity through the concept of "language goals" where people construct their language structure so as to bear similitude with the cluster they want to identify with and want to become. As an African American, she gives her view based on her social experience where she explains the dilemma that African Americans face when they try to incorporate their language to cultural identity that they want to identified with. Social perception that equates the choice to speak Standard English as trying to be White creates a dilemma in most people that have multilingual background. This perception and situation demonstrate that there is a significant connection between language and identity formation.However, the role as a cultural identity that the language play is debatable because there are some cases when the individuals does not identify...

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