To understand the dilemma, four freshmen from Northwestern University in Qatar explore what it means to be multilingual and its implications, drawing on their personal experiences. A great example explored by those who study linguistic relativity is the concept of time and space between languages. All Rights Reserved. Taking a look at common expressions and idioms gives you a glimpse into what a society deems important. I feel that language is strongly tied to how people judge your general character. Complex is one term that you can use to describe human communication since paralanguage is used to transmit messages. To fully appreciate a language, you need to understand the culture of the people who speak it—they’re intrinsically connected. If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn languages with real-world videos. For multilinguals, speaking a certain language that is not within their cultural sphere can open a path for engagement with the differing cultural aspects that come with that language. I don’t believe that you particularly need the language in order to connect with your cultural heritage. I was brought up with it, educated with it, and made a lot of fond memories with it. I have Arab friends, I’m in an Arab country, so I see English as a way to reach a wider range of people, not a limitation. The Best Way to Learn a Language: Playing Games! Cultural identity can be marked by language, although language can be used to refer to other processes and developments, like when intentions are explained in the language by a specific speaker. Belonging to a specific culture tends to strongly shape a persons identity. The Germanic Anglo-Normans and Latin-based French essentially planted the seed for English as we know it to grow. A language where the words do not have the echoes from our childhood, where the vocabulary is not associated with childhood connotations enables us to look at life in … Slang words and inprproper words have become part In this essay I will argue that language influences and does play an important role in our ethnic and social identity. Before the internet, it was next to impossible to pinpoint the redefining moments for these words. English because it is the society I’m living in right now. It is the extent to which one is a representative of a given culture behaviorally, communicatively, psychologically and sociologically. I’ve always had more difficulty in approaching and maintaining an engaging conversation in Arabic or with an Arab, sadly. This is where the issue of culture and identity influencing second language acquisition occurs. Language shapes our relationships and our values, forming our identity as we grow up speaking it. The most obvious way language can have a direct effect on a society is the extent to which certain language can restrict or permit knowledge for certain populations. Even though language is a tool of communication and understanding, it is also used to convey culture, identity and family ties. A study published in 2007 in the journal Cognitive Development looked at the link between language knowledge and youth suicide rates among the Aboriginal population in British Columbia. The fact that I’m able to speak a language that has been around for such a long time and that the entire Arab culture, and even Islam as a religion, is based on is something that makes me feel like I’m part of a community that’s so much bigger. English. The language cannot exist without culture (Hayati, 2011 ). Spanish has many words of Arabic origin due to the Islamic conquest of Spain. Although race is defined by physical, biological attributes, it is also strongly tied to cultural and behavioral attributes as well. I think it has always been at the back of my mind how I’m worried that I’m straying away from my culture. The way people interact and their values, mannerisms, etc., all can be tied back to the language and what has been communicated by it. Mastering the nuances of a language means really being able to understand people who (more than likely) grew up with an entirely different set of values and beliefs. Words can evolve in various ways. Language is an extremely powerful tool that aids in building new relationships and experiences. Cultural identity is self-identification, a sense of belonging to a group that reaffirms itself. For example, just looking at all the Chinese idioms dealing with family demonstrates the value they place on this relationship and tells us a little about the family construct and potential dynamics. It can create opportunities to engage in conversations but it also influences me negatively. Identity can be perceived through language; is one of the many ideas that are illustrated throughout Gloria Anzaldua’s “How to Tame a Wild Tongue”. Therefore, the globalization of English has greatly contributed to the loss of cultural identity of the second English language acquirers. And language, particularly for Hispanics, transcends national borders. The short answer is that language IS cultural identity, at least, the language (s) you speak identify you culturally. The differences between two cultures are reflected perfectly in their languages. Still, you can’t deny that language is a huge part of culture, so much that it actually affects culture in the same way that a culture affects the language. But what does that mean on a day-to-day basis? Language is not simply an assortment of words but an entity that connects an individual to his family, identity, culture, music, beliefs and wisdom. It was always more difficult to make Arab friends, and I think the reason is mainly because all of my interests and the things I interact with the most are English based, and that is very different from what they are accustomed to. In English, this was a term originally referring to an unintelligent man, but over time it came to be quite a derogatory term for an attractive, but not very bright, woman. This is the case for many people living in Qatar in regards to Arabic and English. Additionally, what is considered a powerful language style varies from culture to culture. I don’t think I’ve experienced an identity crisis, but I’ve been alienated and bullied because of my inability to speak Arabic. Understanding the culture behind a language can help immeasurably in understanding the connotations of a word, especially when there’s no equivalency in your own language. Even though language is a tool of communication and understanding, it is also used to convey culture, identity and family ties. Ask a linguist about language and perception and they’ll probably point you to the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, which states that the limits and structure of language determines their user’s thoughts and actions. Take a language like Japanese that feature words that are closely tied to the culture. You won’t fully master a language unless you understand the culture, just like you’ll never fully understand a culture until you’ve immersed yourself in a study of their language. It consists of values, meanings, customs … The real tragedy of all this might just be all of the people … The language variety that you speak as a native language is closely tied to your geographical identity. Vygotsky also believed that language is a result of social interactions and that language is responsible for the development of thought. None of these thoughts require language. The English language is a perfect example of mixing cultures and language. The broadening or dissolution of their original meanings tended to just happen slowly over time with usage. English language learning and teaching involves more factors than cognitive functioning or phonetic development. The effects of these ancient beliefs on modern Chinese values and culture are still present today. Speaking, writing and reading are integral to everyday life, where language is the primary tool for expression and communication. You often hear people say, “back in my day, that word used to mean… something else.”. Denying cultural expression means limiting the expression of unique perspectives on life and the transmission of knowledge from generation to generation. Being able to speak the language of your country of origin allows you to connect with its culture, especially the heritage, but there are certain situations that individuals are connected to them because their family history has already been mixed with other cultures. A culture is also shaped by where it is located. Boroditsky conducted an experiment in which she found that while English speakers view time horizontally (i.e., the past is behind us or to the left and the future is ahead or to the right), Mandarin speakers are more likely to view time vertically (i.e. our language our identity. This is because language is constantly in flux and largely dependent on the ever-evolving views, values and customs of its speakers. It doesn’t have to be in-depth but maybe just enough to form a deeper understanding and appreciation for the quirks and rules of the language(s) you’re trying to learn. If you could only speak one language for the rest of your life what would that be? Yet as Charles Sykes argues in “Du… Learning all about that history could certainly help you understand the meaning behind certain words and phrases with Latin roots, as well as other words of foreign language descent. You can easily conjure up mental images and sensations that would be hard to describe in words. Culture is intrinsic to language. Cultural identity is the sense of belonging towards a culture. Now that we’ve discussed the fluidity of language and culture over time, let’s take a look at what this has to do with you and your language-learning journey. The majority of people that act this way are Qataris themselves and half of the time it is without respect, which really grinds my gears. To really understand, you also have to ask yourself about the influence of other cultures on a language. Yes, but not in every situation. The usage of words and phrases significantly impacts individuals’ thoughts and character/personal identity. When one speaks to another, the attitude, tonality, and posture plays a major role in the impression about an individual. Ethnicity means that an individual belongs to a specific culture, social groups, or nation. someone has rich information in the field of language learning but neglect from cultural matter, this negligence cause awkward mistakes in learning language. When you grow up in a specific society, it is inevitable to learn the glances, gestures and little changes in voice or tone and other communication tools to emphasize or alter wha… English makes me look like a more educated person and connect me with a wide range of people, but I think sometimes when I go back to my home country where barely anyone speaks proper English, it can create conflicts in communications. Yes, language has a bearing on cultural identity as literature does support this notion. Our language is actually our identity. This is especially true if one language is more deeply rooted in the social, cultural and religious platforms of a community. I think the Arabic language holds so much history in it and so yes, it is very integral to Arab culture and society. So lets have a look at a few issues that can help some language learners. According to Ethnologue, there are approximately 7,000 languages spoken all around the world. I do believe that language is a huge part of cultural heritage. Click here to get a copy. Identity can be perceived through language; is one of the many ideas that are illustrated throughout Gloria Anzaldua’s “How to Tame a Wild Tongue”. can take anywhere. This is referred to as keigo. In this essay I will argue that language influences and does play an important role in our ethnic and social identity. I feel pretty distant from Arab culture. The language you speak is a part of your culture, and your culture is what defines a person the most. As someone who has to speak English on a daily basis, how do you find it affecting your Arab culture? I witnessed this particular problem during a fair where I overheard a conversation taking place between two students concerning how their educational opportunities might be hindered because of their inability to speak English. the order of events is viewed from top to bottom). Language relates common experiences and backgrounds, and these histories, in turn, create words specific to our culture. Cultural Identity. Learning a language without comprehending the culture is like going to the vibrant Mexican marketplace pictured above and only eating hamburgers from McDonald’s. Language can play a big role in how we and others perceive the world, and linguists work to discover what words and phrases can influence us, … The beauty of multilingualism lies in the ability to express ourselves in multiple ways. No, because I would constantly speak Arabic out of school and also with my friends in school. The meaning of the word is an important concept in Daoist teachings and makes those teachings much more accessible to Mandarin speakers (which may explain why it has thrived since ancient times). Maybe you’re learning Spanish and wondering why there are so many words that start with al? The power language has over our interactions is immeasurable and clearly demonstrated in our day-to-day interactions. I think it shaped me as a person and my personality, my likes and dislikes, and my ambitions just as much as Arabic is tethering me to my roots and culture and gives me a sense of weight and regality. Have you ever been in a group of people talking about a shared experience, and something is said that makes no sense to you, while everyone else laughs? Get There with Intensive and Extensive Listening, The Simple Secret to Foreign Language Fluency, 5 Killer Language Learning Strategies Guaranteed to Help You Make Time, How to Learn a New Language Fast: 5 Tips That Actually Work. Some positive correlations have been found out. A student enters the classroom with his own identity and culture. I think English has just as much effect on my identity as Arabic does. Have you ever heard the phrase “A Whistle in the Dark” or noticed any of the other words and expressions for the word courage? For multilinguals, speaking a certain language that is not within their cultural sphere can open a path for engagement with the differing cultural aspects that come with that language. Therefore, a language can affect or even shape a person’s identity. Social medias have also had an impact on how we talk and communicate. Do you believe language determines your connection with your cultural heritage? English isn’t the only example of a language with rich history. Or if you were learning English, you can find lots of examples of the historical and cultural values reflected in typical English expressions and idioms by just listening to an episode of NPR’s radio program “A Way with Words.”. I see language as a way to connect to one another in life; without it there would be only misunderstandings. Having interactions with Arab people is also a bit of a challenge because I’ve found that its more difficult for me to keep up a conversation in Arabic than in English. English is the key to everything because everything requires English nowadays. Those contrasting values and beliefs can manifest in a variety of ways. That’s what we’re going to be exploring here, so read on and, hopefully, when you’re done you’ll have a new appreciation for the language (or languages) you’re currently studying as well as the culture it stems from, or maybe even your own culture. 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