Relationship between language, culture, and identity. 1. Relationship between Language, culture, and Identity; 2. Presented to: Miss Urooj Alvi. Speakers of the same language do not necessarily share a culture, just think The former illustrates that the relationship between language and identity is not. traditional 'linguistics applied' approach to the study of language use views Social identity encompasses participant roles, positions, relationships, reputations.
Speakers of the same language do not necessarily share a culture, just think about Flanders and the Netherlands. The word identity is often used, but it is not easy to define. The meaning attributed to it also changes throughout time. In the nineteenth century, a fairly static idea of national identity was preferred. So when you lived in Germany for example, you spoke German and you were German, full stop.
More recently, with growing globalistation, large groups of people are on the move and the link between place and identity has become less evident.
Because people are increasingly confronted with other cultures, they will also affiliate themselves more consciously with certain aspects of their background. As it happens, they may define themselves on the basis of cultural differences with other groups.
So language or religion can start to play a larger role than it had done in the place of origin.
Generally, ethnocultural minorities will feel a stronger need for a distinctive profile than the majority. Particularly when they feel cornered and are exposed to negative representation, they will attempt to stress a positive image, with reference to a rich culture and tradition. In extreme cases, this could lead to self stereotyping and a minority which forcefully opposes any kind of change.
A homosexual hairdresser in Istanbul will stress other aspects from a communist Turkish worker in Brussels or a highly educated female diplomat working for NATO, even though they are all Turkish nationals and speak Turkish. It seems as if this has changed now that the country has become trilingual. However, Belgium has been separated along language lines, an evolution underpinned by the same principle; after all, Flemish citizens share a language: Dutch, and a culture: For that reason they demanded self rule and, as the argument went, this could only be done in Dutch.
Of course the reality is more complex than that. Moreover, it is possible that the original language is partly disappearing, but still plays an important symbolic role in a given ethnocultural group, think for example of Welsh in Wales.
Language and identity
For other groups, language may originally not have been a distinctive feature at all, such as with Armenian Christians from Turkey. In Turkey, which is predominantly Muslim, they would define themselves first and foremost as Christians. When groups of them moved to Brussels in the late eighties, they felt that this was not a distinctive feature among a majority of Christians, which is why language gradually did become an important marker of their identity.
The former illustrates that the relationship between language and identity is not so straightforward and constantly subject to change. When people migrate, the constant interaction between different groups causes original group borders to fade and to shift.
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