Language & Identity

12 December 2016

When a person speaks loudly and uses aggressive language that doesn’t necessarily mean that he is an awful person, he could still be a nice person and might be there for you when you need him. His language does tell us however, that he is a disturbing person at the very least since he is too loud and his choice of words is usually offensive. This was an example of how language defined an identity to a certain degree, partially and not completely.

If another person had mid-terms coming up and I asked him to give me a ride to a really far place, his decision ( not necessarily the language he speaks ) would reveal a fair amount of his identity to me. If he agreed to give me a ride, it would tell me that he cares about other people’s needs and that he is not a selfish person for example. If he disagrees, then that tells me that his mid-terms are top priority for him and he would not waste his time in any way possible until he is done with his mid-terms , in other words he is a serious person.

Language & Identity Essay Example

To summarize, I believe that the identity of a person should not only be related to the language that person speaks but also on other factors like life choices. Language is closely related to one’s identity, Baldwin even mentions that language can sometimes reveal the speakers origins and could force out a lot about a particular person, it could give out how you were raised, your self-esteem and confidence and your income for example, a lot of which is tied to one’s identity.

To say language defines us completely is wrong and I personally think no one should judge others based on the language they speak only, you should never be able to predict one’s income or how they were raised based on the language they speak. People should not be judgmental. I may have experienced this when I lived in Virginia back when I was a sixth grader and didn’t know much English, some classmates assumed that I was a bad student academically just because I had poor or below average grades in my English and spelling classes.

They didn’t realize that it was very hard for me trying to learn a second language while taking other science and advanced grammar classes (for a foreign student at least). After getting our first math quiz results, I noticed how some students started approaching me differently because I managed to get an “A” on it. This tells me that some students judged my intelligence level based on my limited English, and I think that this is wrong. This quote from Baldwin talks about how language has a strong relationship with identity. Baldwin says:

Language is also a political instrument, means, and proof of power. It is the most vivid and crucial key to identity: it reveals the private identity, and connects one with, or divorces one from, the larger, public, or communal identity. There have been, and are, times and places, when to speak a certain language could be dangerous, even fatal. ( 350. ) Baldwin is trying to prove how language plays a major role in revealing one’s identity. Having a language that is accepted and used by the masses makes you feel comfortable and more capable.

It is the key to communication between people and by language one could create or possibly sever bonds with people. Baldwin was talking about old England in that last sentence, he says when speaking another language besides English in England, you are also risking your clarity to other people, and everything you say will be incomprehensible for them. The reason I chose this quote was because Baldwin reinforces my claim by mentioning that language defines identity but at the end of his quote he says “when to speak a certain language could be dangerous, even fatal”.

The use of “could” from Baldwin tells me that Baldwin knows that this is not always the case, language does not always define the identity of some people or that it is not the only key which defines the identities of mankind. Anzaldua says “So, if you want to really hurt me, talk badly about my language, ethnic identity is twin skin to linguistic identity – I am my language. Until I can take pride in my language, I cannot take pride in myself. ” ( 345. )

Anzaldua was saying here that she cannot take pride in herself until she accepts Chicano Texas Spanish and Tex-Mex as legitimate languages. She was very honest here when expressing her feeling ( an example of pathos ). This quote supports my claim, here Anzaldua is talking about “ethic identity” and “linguistic identity”, and she specifically mentions those types of identities because those types are completely defined by one’s spoken language and origins. However, there is a whole lot more to identity than just linguistic and ethnic identities.

I fully agree with Anzaldua, language is an important part of me and I would be hurt to see anyone talk badly about the language I grew up learning. Language like I said in my claim defines identity so when you speak badly about It, you’re speaking badly of what defines my identity, what defines me. The third quote is from my first short assignment, Alshareef says: The image I’m trying to avoid is an image where I don’t take class work seriously by attending lots of parties in the middle of the week.

The one I’m trying to convey to my professor is that I did nothing wrong by going out to the market district at mid-night, the accident could not have been avoided and I should be excused for missing class on Friday, this is how I want my professor to view it, this is possible with clever use of language and a couple of white lies. Language is a tool that everyone in this day and age has access to, you can get in trouble by saying certain things at the wrong times or you could avoid it if you have a silver tongue.

In reality, I was out partying all night which is a life choice (another factor which defines identity) that expresses how careless I was during the school week. By using clever language here I am trying to persuade my professor to believe that I was out in the market, while in fact I was partying. I should have done my homework and I have no excuse to skip my class on Friday. I lied to my professor by telling him I was heading to the market district that night. In this quote, I explained how the outcome would be had I told the truth or lied to my professor.

My use of language here tells a lot to my professor about me (my identity). I’d like to finish my paper by summarizing my claim, language plays a major role in defining identity, but there are other elements which define identity like life choices. There is more to an identity than the language being spoken by an individual. I don’t want people to judge me based on how I speak a certain language, because there is so much more to me than my language and I want to remind people of this.

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