In the modern-day world, it’s important to know who we are. First of all the confidence, it brings in ourselves and the values we realize of ourselves and society. But what language has to do with our identities? Well, we often seek our identities in questions like what we do in life, where we came from, and where we belong to. And the last two questions are inevitably connected with culture and language.
If you ever had experience with learning languages you know that once you have studied a new language you become familiar with its cultures and traditions. Moreover, it doesn’t surprise that certain languages entail certain cultural appropriation, and to understand some cultures, and nations, you have to apprehend or even learn their language.
As Federico Fellini1 once said:” A different language is a different vision of life.”
But is it possible that a new vision can create a new version of ourselves or even utterly change us?
The first thing that comes to mind is our mother tongue, which impacts our identities starting from childhood. Of course, this situation concerns people who have migrated and forgotten or stopped using it in daily life .but in the era of globalization and when the only language English becomes widely used it may concern a lot more people. Research2 in 2020 by Rajathurai Nishanthi, has found that knowing a mother tongue helps children to develop cultural and personal identity. Moreover, as it was said in the article, that personal identity comes out of the person’s understanding of themselves, their surroundings, and history.
In her article, Sheila Kohler4 has exposed her experience in learning and living in different countries and how she has altered herself while speaking a foreign language. Furthermore, it’s a well-known fact that words and phrases have a vital impact on thoughts, character, and personal identity.
From my point of view, I have noticed that only different personalities came up then I speak when different language but my perspective and way of thinking are also altering. As when I think and talk in English, I become more positive minded
From my perspective, I was brought up in a two-language society even though both of my parents are Ukrainians and we have lived in Ukraine. And for centuries the Ukrainian language has been oppressed and prohibited, and in that way, our cultural identity has almost been wiped out. Moreover, as a result of language oppression in the Soviet Union3 and the wide use of the Russian language, some people know Russian better than their mother tongue or it’s easier for them to speak Russian.
Nowadays, in the current state of war, Russia has invaded not only the territory of Ukraine but also Russian propaganda has attacked the media. Russians use language as a weapon representing that if Ukrainians know the Russian language we are like one nation and one brotherhood. Furthermore, attackers enjoy using language as a weapon to divide the country. Saying that those who speak know Russian are Russians and there is no such language as Ukrainian or since some Ukrainians know Russians very well it’s considered that we like a “brother nation” and their most powerful propaganda as they have invaded Ukraine to help and to liberate those who speak Russian.
Consequently, certainly, the language that we speak defines our identity, as the words that we use affect our consciousness and our perspective of the world, additionally language is a crucial part that connects us with our culture, which is an enormous part of identity. And it the era of globalization it’s important to maintain and protect native languages.
2-Rajathurai Nishanthi “Understanding of the Importance of Mother Tongue Learning” Published in International Journal of Trend in Scientific Research and Development (its), ISSN: 2456-6470, Volume-5 |Issue-1, December 2020, pp.77-80, URL: www.ijtsrd.com/papers/ijtsrd35846.pdf (p.77)
4-Kohler, S. (2014, November 21). How Much Does the Language We Speak Shape Our Identity? Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/dreaming-freud/201411/how-much-does-the-language-we-speak-shape-our-identity