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Language and identity in the age of globalization

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Haller, Max

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Abstract "Language is a central element of any culture and society. For each human, it is the main instrument for perceiving and evaluating the world around himself or herself. Language is, therefore, a central element of identity: identity implies the perception of one's own strengths and weaknesses, the evaluation of one's own past, the visions of one's own future. Identity provides aims, direction and consistency to the actions of men or women. This self-image or identity is developed through interaction with other people; one's self-image, at least to some degree, must be shared and validated by others. Language plays a central role. To speak a common language per se creates a feeling of communality (Sapir 1951: 157; Whorf 1956; Weber 1964: 305ff.; Goebl et al. 1996). Adequate mastery of a language is a decisive determinant of a satisfactory communication with other people, and also for social recognition, self-confidence and the feeling of security in the world. Linguistic problems, from stuttering to dumbness, probably entail the strongest harm to one's self-image and self-consciousness. In the first part of this essay, I will elaborate the relationship between language and identity and propose a central thesis. Subsequently, I describe five typical, different social constellations in which a change of language can occur. Here, I will present examples from different linguistic areas of the world. Finally, I will present some considerations about the role of language education and politics today." (excerpt)
Keywords language; identity; social relations; interaction; self-assurance; mother tongue; culture
Classification Sociology of Communication, Sociology of Language, Sociolinguistics; Science of Literature, Linguistics
Method descriptive study
Collection Title Raymond Boudon: a life in sociology
Editor Cherkaoui, Mohamed; Hamilton, Peter
Document language English
Publication Year 2009
Publisher Bardwell
City Oxford
Page/Pages p. 183-196
ISBN 978-1-905622-18-4
Licence Deposit Licence - No Redistribution, No Modifications
data provider This metadata entry was indexed by the Special Subject Collection Social Sciences, USB Cologne