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The Oxford Handbook of Language and Social Psychology

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The Oxford Handbook of Language and Social Psychology

2 Language, Identity, and Culture: Multiple Identity-Based Perspectives

Stella Ting-Toomey is a Professor of Human Communication Studies at California State University, Fullerton.

Department of Human Communication Studies California State University at Fullerton Fullerton, CA 92834 USA

  • Published: 01 April 2014
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Drawing from the intercultural and intergroup communication research literature, the objective of this chapter is to unpack the relationship among language, identity, and culture from multiple identity-based frameworks. Three theoretical frameworks—identity negotiation theory, intergroup communication accommodation theory, and face-negotiation theory—are used to illuminate the interdependent relationship between sociocultural membership issues and language/verbal interaction styles. Overall, a process competence perspective to the understanding of language, identity, and culture is emphasized. An intercultural-intergroup process competence perspective contains two key ideas: being super-mindful of the symbolic message exchange process between the two intercultural communicators, and being super-mindful in understanding the sociocultural identity dynamics in language/verbal style enactment in a multilayered cultural system. Throughout the chapter, ample examples are used to illustrate the dynamic interdependence among language variations, sociocultural memberships, and shifting cultural boundary encounter issues.

While language is the key to the heart of a culture, nonverbal communication is the heartbeat of a culture. Taken together as a package, individuals can become culturally mindful communicators by paying responsive attention to the use of language, verbal, and also nonverbal communication styles in particular cultural situations. Language is defined in this chapter as an arbitrary, symbolic system that labels and categorizes objects, events, groups, people, ideas, feelings, experiences, and many other phenomena. Language is also governed by the multilayered rules developed by members of a particular sociocultural community.

In our everyday interaction, we use language to communicate, to agree or disagree with others, to make or deny requests, and to assert or negotiate our multiple identities. Language represents a significant identity maker. Identity is conceptualized as having multiple social identity, relational role, and personal identity facets ( Tajfel, 1978 ; Tajfel & Turner, 1979 ). Social (or socio-cultural) identities can include ethnic membership identity, social class identity, and professional role identity, to name a few examples. Relational role identities can include ingroup/outgroup membership identity issues to family role identity expectations ( Ting-Toomey, 1999 ). Personal identities can include any unique attributes that we associate with our individuated self in comparison to those of others.

In this chapter, we discuss various identity-based frameworks in the intercultural and intergroup communication domains to enrich our understanding of the intricate relationship between language variations and sociocultural membership communities. Individuals mostly acquired their composite identities through socio-cultural conditioning process, relational development events, individual lived experiences, and repeated communication practices with surrounding others. In every intercultural or intergroup encounter process, each individual’s multilayered identities such as group membership, relational role, and personal identity would come into negotiation prominence pending on the conversation topics, communication channels, relationship types, and situational frames. We need intercultural sensitive skills to negotiate these identity issues competently.

Drawing from the intercultural and intergroup communication research literature, the objective of this chapter is to unpack the relationship among language, identity, and culture from multiple identity-based frameworks. Since there are several chapters (e.g., Howard Giles, Anne Maass, James Pennebaker, and Klaus Fiedler) in this handbook that focus on and discuss the psychological processes of language use, this chapter will focus on the sociocultural identity dimensions that impact on language and verbal styles within a variety of cultural situations. In particular, three theoretical frameworks: identity negotiation theory, intergroup communication accommodation theory (CAT), and face-negotiation theory will be used to illuminate the interdependent relationship between sociocultural membership issues and language/verbal interaction styles. The intergroup CAT is used as a bridge that can enhance the identity negotiation theory and the face negotiation theory in furthering our understanding of the intersections of various identity-based issues and language choice.

The chapter is organized in five sections: First, a process competence lens to the understanding of language, verbal interaction, identity, and culture is introduced as a backdrop. Second, the identity negotiation theory and its accompanying assumptions will be explained. Third, the focal constructs of intergroup perspective and CAT and their relevance to language issues will be discussed and specific language issues in a distinctive diaspora cultural community, the Tibetan speech community, will be probed. Fourth, the face negotiation theory will be explained and the further connection between CAT and the culture-based facework behaviors will be proffered. Fifth, directions for future research concerning the intersection of language, verbal interaction, and sociocultural membership identity issues will be recommended.

Language, Verbal Interaction, and Identity: A Process Competence Lens

An intercultural process competence perspective emphasizes the mindful attention needed to understand the underlying identity issues that frame the use of language and verbal/nonverbal style variations in particular situations and in a particular identity membership community. A particular identity membership community can refer to an immigrant group, a diaspora group, a co-culture ethnic group, or a dominant-mainstream group. A process competence lens could shed light on the important role of sociocultural identity dimensions that shape strategic verbal and nonverbal communication accommodation process on the macro-level (e.g., cultural ideologies’ influence), exo-level (e.g., institutional policies’ influence), meso-level (e.g., community values’ influence), and micro-level (e.g., individual values) interactions ( Ting-Toomey & Oetzel, 2013 ).

An intercultural process competence lens contains two key ideas: (1) being super-mindful of the symbolic message exchange process and coordinated meaning construction process via the use of appropriate, effective, and adaptive verbal and nonverbal communication styles, and (2) being super-mindful in understanding more deeply the sociocultural identity and personal identity issues in conjunction with the role of language usage in a particular cultural system. We will explicate these two ideas in the following discussion and a follow-up elaboration on the second idea when discussing the identity negotiation theory, communication accommodation theory, and face negotiation theory.

A Behavioral Process Awareness Viewpoint

In discussing intercultural communication competence in general, Ting-Toomey (2009) argues that the criteria of communication appropriateness, effectiveness, and adaptability can serve as evaluative yardsticks of whether an intercultural communicator has been perceived as behaving competently or incompetently in an interaction episode (see also, Spitzberg, Canary, & Cupach, 1994 ; Spitzberg & Changnon, 2009 ). The criterion of “communication appropriateness ” refers to the degree to which the exchanged verbal and nonverbal behaviors are regarded as proper and match the expectations generated by the insiders of the culture. To behave “properly” in any given cultural situation, competent communicators need to have the relevant value knowledge schema of the larger situational norms that guide the interaction episode. They also need to acquire the specific knowledge schema of what constitutes appropriate or inappropriate language usage, word choice, and verbal/nonverbal style rhythms that can achieve the desired outcome goal.

On the other hand, the criterion of “communication effectiveness” refers to the degree to which communicators achieve mutually shared meaning and integrative goal-related outcomes in an intercultural or intergroup interaction episode. More importantly, effectiveness and appropriateness criteria are positively interdependent. When one manages a problematic communication episode appropriately with proper language usage and with mutual-face sensitivity, the “good faith” proper behaviors can induce communication effectiveness. Likewise, when one promotes an effective mutual-interest goal-directed outcome, the conjoint interest goal direction can induce appropriate interaction behaviors from the other interactional party. Deardorff (2004) , in interviewing 23 scholars and trainers in the intercultural communication field, identifies the most preferred definition of intercultural competence as “the ability to communicate effectively and appropriately in intercultural situations based on one’s intercultural knowledge, skills and attitudes” (p. 249).

Last, the criterion of “communication adaptability” refers to our ability to change our interaction behaviors and goals to meet the specific needs of the situation. It implies mental, affective, and behavioral flexibility in dealing with the intercultural communication situation. It signals our attunement to the other party’s perspectives, interests, goals, and verbal/nonverbal communication approach. It also conjures willingness to modify our own behaviors and goals to adapt to the emergent communication situation. Communication adaptability connotes dynamic code-switching ability in a problematic interaction scene. Dynamic cross-cultural code switching refers to the intentional learning and moving between culturally ingrained systems of behavior in particular situation ( Molinsky, 2007 ).

An Identity Orientation Awareness Viewpoint

Individuals from contrasting cultural or group membership communities often bring with them different value patterns, perceptual biases, and interaction scripts that influence their interpretations of competent versus incompetent communication behavior in a particular situation. Sharpening the situated content knowledge and communication/language skills of the intercultural negotiators can enhance their pragmatic competencies. According to the identity negotiation theory ( Ting-Toomey, 1999 , 2005a ), culture-sensitive knowledge, mindfulness, and constructive communication skills constitute the key features of the intercultural identity competence components.

While incorporating “culture-sensitive knowledge,” for example, such as value content spectrums of individualism-collectivism and small-large power distance issues ( Hofstede, 2001 ; E. S. Kashima & Y. Kashima, 1998 ; Y. Kashima, E. S. Kashima, Kim, & Gelfand, 2006 ; Triandis, 1995 ; Ting-Toomey, 2010a ) or cultural tightness/looseness structural issues ( Gelfand et al., 2011 ; Kashima & Gelfand, 2012 ), communicators can learn to uncover the implicit “ethnocentric lenses” they use to evaluate the ‘bizarre or unfamiliar” behaviors in an intercultural interaction scene. Culture-sensitive knowledge also includes the importance of developing a keen sense of awareness of self-identity issues and other-identity issues in the communication process, and also the willingness to move beyond the actual communication encounter process and taking into consideration the larger immigrants’ acculturation identity change factors and host country’s institutional receptivity factors.

“Mindfulness,” from the intercultural competence framework, means the willingness to attend to one’s internal cultural and personal communication assumptions, cognitions, and emotions and, at the same time, becoming exquisitely attuned to the other’s communication assumptions, cognitions, and emotions ( Ting-Toomey, 1999 ). Mindfulness is about focused meta-cognition, meta-communication, and meta-sensation attunement work ( Ting-Toomey, 2010b , 2013 ; Siegel, 2007 ; see also, Ang, Van Dyne, & Tan, 2011 ). Being mindful of self-identity and other-identity complexity issues can serve as an intermediary link between the integration of “culture-sensitive knowledge” and the execution of “constructive communication skills.”

“Constructive communication skills” refer to our operational abilities to manage a communication situation flexibly via pragmatic verbal and nonverbal adaptive behaviors with an eye to contextual sensitivity. Thus, the development of an intercultural process competence lens includes the intentional integration of culture-sensitive and linguistic-sensitive knowledge, mindful self-reflexivity and other identity-reflectivity, and the enactment of constructive communication skills to connect and relate to culturally dissimilar others. Understanding the role of sociocultural identity membership issues is a major starting step in enhancing verbal and nonverbal interactional competence and developing optimal intercultural and intergroup communication performance.

Identity Negotiation Theory: A Boundary-Crossing Perspective

To develop pragmatic communication competence in intergroup contexts, individuals need to understand deeply sociocultural membership identity struggle issues and personal identity adaptations as they unfold in the communication process and the larger cultural system. In this section, we introduce a theoretical framework, the Identity Negotiation Theory (INT) ( Ting-Toomey, 1999 , 2005a ) to guide us systematically in connecting the relationship among language/verbal style, identity, and culture in the context of minority and immigrants’ acculturation process. In the next section, we forge connection between the Communication Accommodation Theory (CAT) (Gallois, Ogay, & Giles, 2005; Giles, Reid, & Harwood, 2010 ), and INT to further explain the critical role of appreciating language via an intergroup identity lens.

Identity Negotiation Theory: A Synopsis

By understanding how individuals define themselves and how others define them on multiple grounds, persons can communicate with culturally different others appropriately, effectively, and adaptively. Let us first take a look at the following case story ( Ting-Toomey & Chung, 2012 , p. 158) which involved Pauline, a University Assistant Dean and her encounter with a group of strangers in a posh restaurant on campus.

Mistaken Identity: Innocent or Guilty? I was having lunch at the university restaurant with my work colleagues when I glanced over at the other table. The table was beautifully decorated with rose petals and fancy packages. The women that were going to be seated were immaculately dressed. I could see the Couture, Chanel and Gucci. I was curious and walked over to their table. “Excuse me, your table is so beautiful. I was wondering what the special occasion was?” One woman smiled and replied, “We are celebrating friendship day. We do this every year. By the way, may I have a glass of ice tea, no cubes please?” I was totally stunned. “I am so sorry, I did not introduce myself. I am an Assistant Dean in the College of Arts and Sciences.” The White woman apologized and ended with, “I thought you were the Maître D—I mean, the Head Maître D.” As an African American woman who has worked on this campus for over a decade, I am still disappointed and somewhat dismayed, that after all of these years, color matters. It is a daily reminder that I am different…

In reviewing the “Mistaken Identity” real-life case story, it is obvious that multiple identity clashes come into play. The story involves ethnic/racial identity clash, particular identity lens interpretation, historical backdrop, professional identity issues, gender role expectations, and personal identity sentiments, and much more. It also provides us with a compelling argument for why understanding the unfamiliar other’s identity conception is so critical in promoting competent intercultural or intergroup communication. In an identity misalignment communication process, individuals can unintentionally or intentionally insult someone’s sense of social or personal identity self (see next section) as portrayed in the dialogue line in which the White woman ended with— “I thought you were the Maître D—I mean, the Head Maître D.” –thus, inflicting one more verbal insult to the emotional pain that Dean Pauline has just experienced.

According to Ting-Toomey’s (2005a) INT, human beings in all cultures desire identity respect in the communication process. However, what constitutes the proper way to show identity respect and consideration varies from one culture to the next. The INT perspective emphasizes particular identity domains in influencing individuals’ everyday interactions. To illustrate, for example, individuals acquire their sense of cultural/ethnic group membership images through their primary caretakers, peer associations, schools and media influence during their formative years. Furthermore, physical appearance, racial traits, skin color, language usage, self-appraisal, and other-perception factors all enter into the cultural identity construction equation.

The INT has been researched and applied primarily in immigrants’ acculturation contexts and intergroup majority-minority interaction contexts (see, for example, Collie, Kindoh, & Podisadlowski, 2010 ; Jackson, 1999 , 2002 ) to international adjustment and re-adjustment situations (see, for example, Hotta & Ting-Toomey, 2013 ; Molinksy, 2007 ; Onwumechili, Nwosu, Jackson, & James-Hughes, 2003). More recently, it has been applied to bicultural/biracial identity meaning construction and its impact on intergroup communication strategies in various daily situations ( Toomey, Dorjee, & Ting-Toomey, 2013 ).

Identity Negotiation Theory: Core Assumptions

The 2005 INT version consists of the following ten core assumptions, which explain the antecedent, process, and outcome components of intercultural identity-based communication competence:

The core dynamics of people’s group membership identities (e.g., cultural and ethnic memberships) and personal identities (e.g., unique attributes) are formed via symbolic communication with others.

Individuals in all cultures or ethnic groups have the basic motivation needs for identity security, inclusion, predictability, connection, and consistency on both group-based and person-based identity levels. However, too much emotional security will lead to tight ethnocentrism, and, on the converse side, too much emotional insecurity (or vulnerability) will lead to fear of outgroups or strangers. The same underlying principle applies to identity inclusion, predictability, connection, and consistency. Thus, an optimal range exists on the various identity negotiation dialectical spectrums.

Individuals tend to experience identity emotional security in a culturally familiar environment and experience identity emotional vulnerability in a culturally unfamiliar environment.

Individuals tend to feel included when their desired group membership identities are positively endorsed (e.g., in positive in-group contact situations) and experience differentiation when their desired group membership identities are stigmatized (e.g., in hostile out-group contact situations).

Persons tend to experience interaction predictability when communicating with culturally familiar others and interaction unpredictability when communicating with culturally unfamiliar others. Interaction predictability tends to lead to either further trust (i.e., within the optimal level) or rigidified stereotyped categories (i.e., beyond the optimal level). Constant interaction unpredictability tends to lead to either mistrust or haphazard expectancy surprises.

Persons tend to desire interpersonal connection via meaningful close relationships (e.g., in close friendship support situations) and experience identity autonomy when they experience relationship separations—meaningful intercultural-interpersonal relationships can create additional emotional security and trust in the cultural strangers.

Persons tend to experience identity consistency in repeated cultural routines in a familiar cultural environment and they tend to experience identity change (or to the extreme, identity chaos and turmoil) and transformation in a new or unfamiliar cultural environment.

Cultural-ethnic, personal, and situational variability dimensions influence the meanings, interpretations, and evaluations of these identity-related themes.

Competent identity-negotiation process emphasizes the importance of integrating the necessary intercultural identity-based knowledge, mindfulness, and interaction skills to communicate appropriately, effectively, and adaptively with culturally dissimilar others.

Satisfactory identity negotiation outcomes include the feeling of being understood, respected, and affirmatively valued.

Cultural and Ethnic Identity Intersecting Issues

In an accelerated multicultural/multiracial identity formation society—race, ethnicity, religion, social class, and culture—will become an increasingly integrative or fragmented focal point for identity negotiation and re-negotiation. Cultural identity salience can be defined as the emotional significance that members attach to their sense of belonging or affiliation with the larger majority culture (e.g., the larger Australian or U.S. culture). To illustrate, we can talk about the larger Australian or Brazilian cultural identity, or the larger U.S. cultural identity on the macro sociocultural membership analytical level. On the other hand, ethnic identity salience is linked closely with the intergroup boundary maintenance issue across generations (e.g., third-generation Cuban Americans in the U.S.). Ethnic identity salience can be defined as the subjective allegiance and loyalty to a group—large or small, socially dominant or subordinate, with which one has ancestral links. Ethnic identity can be sustained by shared objective characteristics such as shared language or religion. It is also a subjective sense of “ingroupness” whereby individuals perceive of themselves and each other as belonging to the same ingroup by shared historical and emotional ties. Thus, following Berry, Kim, and Boski’s (1987) 2 X 2 cultural-ethnic identity typological model, an immigrant’s identity can be classified as either an ethnic identity maintenance type (weak on cultural identity salience, strong on ethnic identity salience), a bicultural identity type (strong on cultural identity salience, and strong on ethnic identity salience), an assimilated identity type (strong on cultural identity salience, weak on ethnic identity salience), or a marginal identity type (weak on cultural identity salience, weak on ethnic identity salience). To practice pragmatic linguistic competence in an intercultural or intergroup communication situation, one has to move beyond looking at the racial physical traits or dialects/accents of the interactional partner, and learn to observe and listen deeply to the identity stories in the particular encounter scene.

Understanding various sociocultural membership identity issues especially in a pluralistic immigrant society is like beholding a multilayered, marble cake. Cultural-ethnic membership identity issues often inter-mingle or intersect with other group-based and personal-based identity issues to create an ongoing identity kaleidoscope that impacts on language enactment and nonverbal behavioral choices. Whether one is communicating with an ingroup or outgroup member may highly influence the linguistic code-switching process. In a nutshell, the INT assumes that human beings in all cultures desire both positive group-based and positive person-based identities in any type of communicative situation. How individuals can enhance identity understanding, respect, and mutual affirmative valuation via mindful verbal and nonverbal competence practice is the essential concern of this approach. Newly-arrived immigrants, minority members, and biracial/multiracial individuals also often need to learn to use creative and adaptive language code-switching practice to assert their complex identity shifts in the fluctuating intergroup encounter situations ( Collie et al., 2010 ; Toomey et al., 2013 ).

Identity Negotiation Complexity: An Intergroup Perspective

Intergroup perspective augments INT’s perspective on understanding the relationships among language, communication, identity, and sociocultural membership issues. Identity negotiation primarily takes place in intergroup and interpersonal communication contexts in everyday life. Intergroup perspective offers a rich theoretical extension to understand identity negotiation in various contexts.

Intergroup Backdrop: Two Identity Types

According to social identity theory ( Tajfel, 1978 ; Tajfel & Turner, 1979 ), every individual has two types of identity: social identity and personal identity. Social identity is based on his or her membership/s in a group or groups, and personal identity is based on individual idiosyncrasies and unique traits (see Giles, Reid, & Harwood, 2010 ). For example, while social identity or group role membership identity (e.g., Stella as a full professor, female, mother, and Chinese, and Tenzin as an assistant professor, male, unmarried, and Tibetan) shapes intergroup professional interactions, personal identity (e.g., Stella being an optimistic, creative person, and Tenzin being a considerate, empathetic person) shapes personalized relationship development interactions.

Mounting evidence, however, indicates how both social and personal identity can assert simultaneous effect on the evolving dynamics of communication between two or more communicators (see Giles et al., 2010 ) from distinctive identity groups. Theoretically, while these interactional contexts could be clearly distinguished, in actuality, intergroup and interpersonal communication processes fluctuate from one moment to the next—depending on the conjoint social identification and differentiation processes, the conversation topics, interactional goals, and critical interaction turning points that pervade in the ongoing conversation episode.

Given the focus of this chapter, we discuss in this section intriguing relationships between languages and social identity and proffer two theoretical models—one describing the relationship between bilingualism and linguistic identity, and the other understanding verbal/nonverbal convergence and divergence relating to intergroup and interpersonal encounters. While differentiating these two theoretical contexts, we also show how communicative situations can involve high intergroup salience and high interpersonal salience. These situations involve complex negotiation of social and personal identities as well as communication accommodation.

Language and Social Identity Issues

Language and communication issues received early attention from Tajfel and his colleagues (e.g., Bourhis, Giles, & Tajfel, 1973 ; Giles, 1978 ) even though social identity originated in the field of social psychology ( Tajfel, 1978 ; Tajfel & Turner, 1979 ). Giles and colleagues (see Giles and Rakic , this volume) produced substantial work on language, speech, and dialects as markers of social identity and their effect on intergroup relations (e.g., Giles, 1973 , 1978 ; Giles & Johnson, 1981 ; 1987 ). According to Ethnolinguistic Vitality Theory (EthnoVT) ( Giles, Bourhis, & Taylor, 1977 ; Giles, Taylor, & Bourhis, 1977 ), status, demographics, and institutional support not only influence intergroup relations between members of different language groups, but they also play a significant role in language maintenance.

In other words, group vitality—objective vitality or perceived vitality—impact intergroup interaction, particularly communication accommodation. Group vitality can be defined as the strength of a group measured along these dimensions: status, demographics, and institutional support. Status includes social and economic status, demographics include birth and death rates and immigration, and institutional support includes social, economic, and political support from local and central governments as well as other agencies. Group vitality provides a useful theoretical explication for why some languages thrive (e.g., English, Spanish, and Chinese) and many others die every day (e.g., Laghu of the Solomon Island and Old Kentish Sign Language ( Tobin, 2011 ).

Many intergroup scholars (e.g., Giles et al., 1977 ; Giles & Johnson, 1981 ; Sachdev & Bourhis, 1990 ) have suggested that languages, accents, and dialects can be the most salient dimensions of social identity, and “the literature on the centrality of language to group identity is substantial…” ( Sachdev & Bourhis, 2005 , p. 66). Tibetan diaspora in India, for example, presents an illustrative case. Most of the younger generation Tibetans educated in India could speak and write in multiple languages: Tibetan, English, and Hindi, but a recent study ( Dorjee, Giles & Barker, 2011 ) showed that in particular Tibetan language is regarded as a key dimension of the Tibetan social-cultural identity. Recognizing the centrality of Tibetan language to Tibetan identity and maintaining Tibetan culture (see Bernstorff & von Welck, 2004 a; Cabezon & Jackson, 1996 ; Dorjee, 2006 ; Gyatso, 1999 ; Shakabpa, 1967 ) are critical concerns in the ingroup Tibetan community. In recent years, the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) in India has formulated two education policies.

One, CTA implemented Tibetan Education Policy that required most Tibetan schools in India and Nepal to teach all the modern subjects, except English, in Tibetan language from elementary level to middle school ( Dorjee & Giles, 2005 ). Two, CTA has initiated a new policy to design curriculum to teach Tibetan language to the Tibetan children in the Western diasporas (e.g., Tibetan diasporas in the U.S.A. and Canada) as a second language ( www.sherig.org ). This policy is aimed at bilingual education of the Tibetan children in the West so that they do not become linguistically assimilated into speaking just host languages. His Holiness the Dalai Lama, CTA, and most Tibetans emphasize the need to teach, speak, and maintain Tibetan language as a key dimension of Tibetan social-cultural identity from historical and cultural perspectives (see Cabezon & Jackson, 1996 ; Dorjee, 2013 ; Dorjee & Giles, 2009 ; Shakabpa, 1967 ; Stein, 1972 ).

It should be noted, however, that some groups (e.g., Arab Americans in the U.S., see Sawaie, 1986 ; Chinese Canadian students, see Park, Dion, & Dion, 1985 ; see also Edwards, 1985 ) actually may not attach the same importance to their language as Tibetans do. Interestingly, linguistic identity is not necessarily based on speaking the language fluently per se. Linguistic identity can be defined as “that part of an individual’s self-concept that derives from his (or her) knowledge of his (or her) membership in a language (added and italicized) group together with the value and emotional significance attached to that membership” ( Tajfel, 1978 , p. 63). In other words, there is no absolute requirement for individuals to speak their ethnic language, for example, to claim membership in that language group. It can be simply based on these two elements: linguistic knowledge recognition and the keen emotional attachment to that language.

A Relational Perspective on Multilingualism and Social Identity

More recently, intergroup scholars have explored the complex relationship among language, social identity, and communication issues (e.g., Clement, Shulman, & Rubenfeld, 2010 ; Kalbfleisch, 2010 ; Reid & Anderson, 2010 ; Sutton, 2010 ). Interestingly, Clement et al (2010) explored bilingual and multilingual issues between diversity and globalization. EthnoVT can provide distinctive understanding of different types of bilingualism such as balanced bilingualism (due to contextual factors favoring the equal status of each language and so on), additive bilingualism (situations favoring majority or minority group members to acquire a second language in addition to their native language), and subtractive bilingualism (situations pressuring minority group members to lose their ethnic/native language and assimilate swiftly to adopt the dominant/host language) ( Clement et al., 2010 ). Illustratively stated, Tibetan diasporas in India and the U.S. provide contrasting insights into bilingualism.

Due to institutional support from both the Central Government of India and the State Governments (see Dorjee, 2006 ), Tibetan settlers in India have been able to teach young Tibetans to speak and write in Tibetan, English, Hindi or Regional Indian Language (e.g., Kanada). Even though the ethnolinguistic vitality of the Tibetan diaspora in India cannot be compared at all to its host country’s ethnolinguistic vitality, Tibetan language and culture have thrived in India as compared to their status in their home environment—Tibet. Importantly, this case illustrates that minority group members can have balanced or additive bilingualism or even multilingualism (as in the case of Tibetan diaspora in India) provided their systematic language maintenance efforts are aided by host country’s institutional support. This means the minority group members’ acquiring additional second or third languages do not have to be necessarily classified as subtractive bilinguals as some intergroup studies have argued (see Clement et al, 2010 ).

On the other hand, the Tibetan diaspora in the U.S. does illustrate subtractive bilingualism. In the absence of institutional support and low group vitality (about 15,000 Tibetans here), Tibetan parents struggle to teach everything Tibetan—Tibetan traditions, beliefs, and values— and including the Tibetan language to their children. Many of the parents’ themselves, however, speak Tibetan poorly or not at all. This subtractive bilingualism may have dire social and cultural consequences such as the perceived disconnection between the Tibetan culture and language. Some studies (e.g., Rumbaut, 1994 ) suggest language proficiency determines individual’s social identity.

Based on recent intergroup language-based research studies, we can proffer a descriptive model reflecting the complex relationships between bilingualism and linguistic identity. We will use Tibetan diaspora to illustrate different scenarios. Scenario one can be additive bilinguals identifying strongly with their ethnic language identity. Dorjee, Giles, and Barker’s (2011) study indicated many of their participants rating high on their language competencies in Tibetan, English, and/or Hindi, but almost all of them strongly identified with Tibetan identity and Tibetan language as a key dimension of that identity. Scenario two can be subtractive bilinguals identifying with their ethnic heritage or native language identity. While this seems counterintuitive, many young Tibetans in the U.S.A., who either have difficulty speaking Tibetan or do not speak Tibetan due to assimilation into the American English language, tend to hold strong Tibetan ethnic identity including Tibetan language identity attachment. Kulyk (2011) writes, “Moreover, the identification with a language does not always result from its use; people can feel attached to a language they never speak and are hardly able to speak….This pertains in particular to languages of migrants, minorities or otherwise” (p. 629).

In other words, assimilated individuals in a host environment could still claim ethnic linguistic identity attachment. This implied that linguistic identity attachment is different from actual language use and language proficiency ( Libebkind, 1999 ). In the U.S., we find examples among various immigrants (e.g., Mexican Americans, Tibetan Americans) who may not speak their ethnic/native languages fluently but still claim strong ethnic linguistic identity awareness. Many Basque Americans who do not speak the Basque language claim Basque language identity on a group membership level ( Lasagabaster, 2008 ). Possibly, these bicultural U.S. Americans claiming their respective ethnic linguistic identity was informed by the perception that ethnic heritage languages are essential parts of their sociocultural identities as with Irish identity in Northern Ireland (see McMonagle, 2009 ). Lastly, it is also possible that bicultural individuals may not identify (e.g., Yiddish and English) with either of these languages as critical for two plausible reasons: (1) Language does not occupy a strong facet of their social identity, and/or (2) other facets of their ethnic or cultural community such as religious beliefs or rituals, customs, food, cultural artifacts, and distinctive values shape their sociocultural membership contents. While ethnic, racial, or religious group membership can be important to many individuals and offers a sense of meaning, belonging, and a source of pride to these individuals ( Verkuyten, 2010 ), other membership types and role identities (e.g., gender identity, age identity, or professional role) are important to some other individuals in particular situations (see Giles et al., 2010 ). Thus, to be a competent intergroup communicator, we need to be attuned to the individuals’ beliefs and values concerning their perceptions of the degree of interdependence between their cultural/ethnic identity issues and whether they acknowledge the vitality of their native language as part of their group membership identity, and also whether they are capable to code-switch into another language due to their immigration or diaspora experience.

Communication Accommodation Theory: Identity-Based Communicative Strategies

Given the above discussion concerning the relationships between languages and social identity, communication accommodation theory offers useful insight into identity negotiation and linguistic identity issues. In this section we provide a theoretical model that explicates communication convergence (accommodation) and communication divergence (non-accommodation) in interpersonal and intergroup encounters.

Communication accommodation theory (CAT) has a history of over 30 years (see Gallois, Ogay, & Giles, 2006 ), and it has primarily been applied to intergroup contexts including intercultural encounters ( Giles et al., 2010 ; Harwood & Giles, 2005 ). It has delineated the conditions under which communicative convergence and divergence occur in interpersonal and intergroup encounters as well as their social consequences ( Gallois et al., 2006 ; Shepard, Giles, & Le Poire, 2001 ). Convergence can be defined as communicatively accommodating or adjusting to each other’s interests or needs in the encounter. For example, matching each other’s language, accent, nonverbal expressions, and communication styles represent accommodative behaviors. In contrast, divergence can be defined as communicatively non-accommodating or distancing from each other’s interests or needs in the encounter. Specific examples include disengaging from the other via avoidance, silence, and nonverbal facial expression, and intentional dialect or language code switching to exclude the other. We can put the two types of identity: social identity and personal identity on a vertical bar and cross it with communicative convergence and divergence on a horizontal bar. These social identity-personal identity spectrum and convergence-divergence spectrum result in a dynamic model with four quadrants (see Figure 2.1 ). While the model clearly distinguishes intergroup and interpersonal communicative strategies, they can also manifest together in different degrees towards the center of the grid.

Intergroup identity negotiation: Linguistic convergence and divergence issues.

The first quadrant (Quadrant I) on the upper left hand corner represents intergroup membership convergence or accommodative behaviors based on intergroup social approval and other group-based motivations. According to CAT, individuals may initially orient themselves to each other based on group membership such as culture, race, sex, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, religion, professional role, to name a few. Intergroup convergence is observed in situations where both young and old adapt to each other’s communication style, where females and males accommodate to each other’s relational expectations, and members of interfaith code switch on topics of interest for the sake of intergroup harmony. Perhaps an excellent case of intergroup convergence is people around the world communicating with each other in English in face to face interaction as well as through social media such as facebook, twitter, skype, and email connection. The importance of sociocultural context in this encounter is high regardless of the shared medium of communication.

The second quadrant (Quadrant II) on the upper right hand corner represents intergroup membership divergence due to motivations such as social disapproval and to highlight social identity distinctiveness. Intergroup research provides evidence that members of different social groups use a wide range of non-accommodative strategies such as avoidance and dialect code-switching to distance themselves from each other. From a motivational point of view, while some group members seek positive social identity in intergroup setting, others like to preserve their group membership identity distinctiveness. Therefore, in situations where associating with certain group members undermine their positive social identity they could use divergence strategies to uphold their positive identity distinctiveness such as “Vegans Save Lives!” or “Don’t be Mean, Go Green!” to assert positive distinctiveness for their group.

The third quadrant (Quadrant III) on the bottom of the left hand corner represents personal identity or interpersonal communication convergence. According to CAT, individuals from different sociocultural backgrounds could have an initial orientation towards each other based on their personal identity. For example, individuals accommodate to each other’s needs based on dimensions such as personal appeals, physical attractiveness, liking, and perceived like-mindedness. These dimensions constitute their personal identity. Individuals from different social-cultural backgrounds form interpersonal relationships based upon interpersonal attraction. They accommodate to each other’s needs both verbally (such as code switch, discuss common interests, self-disclosure, and share personal stories) and nonverbally (such as reciprocal smiles and appropriate haptic/touch communication). Interpersonal approval and personal willingness to communicate drive interpersonal convergence in communication. Thus, the importance of individuals’ sociocultural background is minimized or not salient in this particular situation.

Finally, the fourth quadrant (Quadrant IV) on the bottom of the right hand corner represents interpersonal communication divergence. In this divergent communicative situation, individuals either do not seek relational approval for reasons such as personality disagreement, and/or have other competing needs which motivate them to use divergence or non-accommodative verbal and nonverbal styles. Choosing not to interact with some people using a variety of strategies such as code switching, not introducing themselves, pretending to answer nature’s call, and changing their seats are examples of interpersonal divergence. Basically, individuals may use any verbal and nonverbal symbols to communicate social distance in interpersonal encounters.

This model provides a meaningful heuristic insight into the distinction between interpersonal and intergroup communicative strategies. That said, we envision the fluidity of communication across the quadrants and that the communication process can be high or low on both intergroup and interpersonal dimensions ( Giles & Hewstone, 1982 ; Gudykunst & Lim, 1986 ). Intergroup convergence and divergence occur in situations where intergroup salience is high (e.g., police-civilian encounter or intergenerational encounter), but interpersonal salience is low. On the other hand, interpersonal convergence and divergence occur in situations where interpersonal salience is high (e.g., friendship encounters or intimate relationship interactions or twitter interactions), but intergroup salience is low. Of course, the framing or the interpretation of the actual intergroup or interpersonal encounter process is highly contingent on each communicator’s perceptions, evaluative schema, and cultural-racial embodied experiences. This four-quadrant model would assert a profound impact on the linguistic or dialect variations, nonverbal accommodation or non-accommodation postures that individual use in a variety of intergroup interaction situations. Perhaps negotiating identity and communicative interaction is most challenging in situations where both interpersonal salience and intergroup salience are high. For example, Jasmine, a Korean-Irish biracial American, 26, said the following about her White boyfriend:

My boyfriend who was White had all White friends and we would hang out together sometimes. Many of his friends would make slight racial remarks against Asians but in a joking way around me. While I took this as them trying to be funny, it actually really started to bother me. When I told my boyfriend that I did not like his friends making racial jokes against Asians he told me it was no big deal. One time one of his friends told him that since he was dating me he could now say he “had an Asian before” as if it was an accomplishment or a trophy should he ever break up with me. A while after that I broke up with him because he would not stand up for me, and, for hanging around such ignorant people. ( Toomey, Dorjee, & Ting-Toomey, 2013 , p. 123 )

The above reaction clearly indicates the identity challenges in an intimate-interpersonal dating relationship. Given the history of their interpersonal relationship, Jasmine told her boyfriend that she did not appreciate his friends making racial jokes about her Asian sociocultural background. Lacking sensitivity, her White boyfriend simply told her “…it was no big deal.” From an intergroup perspective, minority group members face such identity challenges in their relationship with majority group members and what Jasmine’s boyfriend said is a common reaction from someone in a dominant power-privileged position (see Orbe, 1998 ). Lastly, the situations in which both interpersonal and intergroup salience can be low include tight intragroup interaction and mindless interactions under the influence of alcohol and drugs. These insights from intergroup perspective along with group membership-based communication accommodation and face saving foci can provide further understanding concerning the intricate relationship among language, identity, and sociocultural membership issues.

Problematic Face-Negotiation Dynamics: Intercultural and Intergroup Perspectives

Intercultural face clash.

The following critical incident is an adapted story from Brislin, Cushner, Cherri, and Yong (1986 , pp. 157–158).

Who’s in Charge? The President of XYZ Golf Club Company asked Masako Takai, the 36-year old Chief Executive of the Marketing Division, and her staff (two male MBAs) to go to Japan and close an important contract deal with the Nippon Company. He thought his choice is especially effective as Masako (a third generation Japanese American from California) knows the industry well and could also speak fluent Japanese. Mr. Yamamoto, the 56-year old CEO of the Nippon Company was awaiting them in his office. As Masako and her staff were being introduced, she noticed a quizzical look on Mr. Yamamoto’s face and heard him mumbled “chief executive” to his assistant in an unsure manner. However, they both bowed politely to each other although Mr. Yamamoto felt that Masako should have bowed deeper since she looked so young. They proceeded to the conference room and a female staff poured them all tea. They then started their business talk. After Masako had presented the merits of the marketing strategy in Japanese, referring to notes provided by her staff, she asked Mr. Yamamoto what he thought. He responded by saying that he needed to discuss some things further with the head of her department. Masako explained that was why she was in Japan— to close the contract deal. Smiling politely, Mr. Yamamoto replied that Masako had done a good job of explaining the marketing campaign strategy, but that he wanted to talk things over with the person in charge. Beginning to be frustrated, Masako stated that she had complete authority from her company to sign the contract. At this point, Mr. Yamamoto appeared to be quite confused and glanced at his assistant. Continuing to smile politely, however, Mr. Yamamoto wanted to schedule another meeting with Masako and talk further. Masako was at a boiling point at that stage. Wasted time means wasted money. What went wrong here? Why did Mr. Yamamoto keep postponing signing the contract and wanting to schedule another meeting with Masako?

To analyze the story of “Who’s in Charge?’ and to answer the question of what went wrong—everything went wrong on a culture-level analysis. Mr. Yamamoto was interpreting the role of Masako as either a junior staff or a translator from the XYZ Golf Club Company. He was also not used to dealing with a young, female executive to represent a major firm. Furthermore, since Masako could speak Japanese fluently, Mr. Yamamoto did not take her seriously as an American representative from the U.S. firm. He also did not decode the term “Chief Executive” accurately early on, and he did not have faith that Masako could actually go ahead and sign the contract on behalf of her company. While Mr. Yamamoto came from a large power distance value orientation, Masako came from a small power distance value dimension.

Intercultural miscommunication often involves different face-saving and face-recouping behaviors. Face-saving and face-honoring behaviors are situated discourse. In order to practice competent facework communication in a problematic intercultural situation, the conflict face negotiation theory perspective may help to guide our understanding of the interdependent nature of communicative identity, language, and culture.

Face Negotiation Theory Perspective: A Synopsis

In the context of the conflict face negotiation theory (FNT), face refers to a claimed sense of desired social self-image in a relational or international setting ( Ting-Toomey 1988 , 2005b ). The roots of FNT were inspired by the writing of Goffman’s (1955 , 1959 , 1967 ) work on sociological facework, and Brown and Levinson’s (1987) discourse work on politeness theory. For a brief history that covers the origin and the evolution of the FNT, see Ting-Toomey (1994 , 2009c ). Briefly stated, in any problematic discourse situation, face loss occurs when we are being treated in such a way that our identity claims are being directly or indirectly challenged or ignored. Face loss can occur on the individual level, the group membership level, or both. Repeated face loss and face threat often lead to escalatory conflict spirals or an impasse in the conflict negotiation process. Face gain, in contrast, means an enhanced self-image, other-image, or both.

In fact, Spencer-Oatey (2005 ; van Meurs & Spencer-Oatey, 2010) proposes that the study of facework can be understood via four relational interaction categories: a rapport-enhancement orientation (a desire to strengthen or enhance harmonious relations between interlocutors), a rapport maintenance orientation (a desire to maintain or protect harmonious relations), a rapport-neglect orientation (a lack of concern for the quality of interpersonal relations perhaps because of a focus on the self), and a rapport-challenge orientation (a desire to challenge or hamper harmonious relations between the interlocutors). In particular, when a second language is involved in the facework clash process, the tone of voice, the nonverbal nuances, the situated linguistic codes, and the conflict assumptions that are being enacted in the social disagreement episode can further derail the interaction process.

The FNT was developed as a response to the Western-biased perspective in the study of conflict communication styles. In response to the heavy reliance on the individualistic Western assumptions in framing various conflict approaches, Ting-Toomey (1988) developed a cross-cultural conflict theory, namely, the conflict face negotiation theory (FNT). The conflict FNT included an emphasis on a collectivistic, Asian-orientation perspective to the understanding of intercultural conflict and was intended to expand the theorizing process of existing, individualistic Western-based conflict approaches ( Ting- Toomey & Kurogi, 1998 ).

In sum, Ting- Toomey’s (2005a) conflict face negotiation theory assumes that (a) people in all cultures try to maintain and negotiate face in all communication situations; (b) the concept of face is especially problematic in emotionally threatening or identity-vulnerable situations when the situated identities of the communicators are called into question; (c) the cultural value spectrums of individualism-collectivism ( Ting-Toomey, 2010 ; Triandis, 1995 , 2002 ) and small-large power distance ( Hofstede, 2001 ; House, Hanges, and Javidan et al ., 2004 ) shape facework concerns and styles; (d) individualism and collectivism value patterns shape members’ preferences for self-oriented facework versus other-oriented facework; (e) small and large power distance value patterns shape members’ preferences for horizontal-based facework versus vertical-based facework; (f) the value dimensions, in conjunction with individual, relational, and situational factors, influence the use of particular facework behaviors in particular cultural scenes; and (g) intercultural facework competence refers to the optimal integration of knowledge, mindfulness, and communication skills in managing vulnerable identity-based conflict situations appropriately, effectively, and adaptively.

Self-face concern is the protective concern for one’s own identity image when one’s own face is threatened in the conflict episode. Other-face concern is the concern for accommodating the other conflict party’s identity image in the conflict situation. Mutual-face concern is the concern for both parties’ images and the image of the relationship. Whether we choose to engage in self-face protection or mutual-face protection often depends on our ingrained cultural socialization process, individual trait tendencies, and embedded situational factors.

More specifically, for example, in a direct empirical test of the theory by Oetzel and Ting-Toomey (2003) , the research program tested the underlying assumption of the FN conflict theory that face is an explanatory mechanism for cultural membership’s influence on conflict behavior. A questionnaire was administered to 768 participants in four national cultures: China, Germany, Japan, and the U.S. in their respective languages asking them to recall and describe a recent interpersonal conflict. The major results of the study are as follows: First, cultural individualism-collectivism had direct effects on conflict styles, as well as mediated effects through self-construal and face concerns. Second, self-face concern was associated positively with dominating style and other-face concern was associated positively with avoiding and integrating styles. Third, German respondents reported the frequent use of direct-confrontational facework strategies; Japanese reported the use of different pretending and accommodating strategies and minimize the severity of the conflict situation; Chinese engaged in a variety of avoiding, accommodating, passive aggressive, and third-party appeals’ tactics; and U.S. Americans reported the use of upfront expression of feelings and remaining calm as conflict facework tactics.

Within the pluralistic U.S. sample, multiethnic research by Ting-Toomey and co-researchers (2000) has also uncovered distinctive conflict interaction styles in relationship to particular ethnic identity salience issues. While previous research studies have focused on testing the relationship between individualism-collectivism value dimensions and facework strategies, recent research effort has focused on examining the relationship between small/large power distance values and particular facework practice in the workplace ( Merkin & Ramadan, 2010 ). Beyond broad-based cultural value pattern dimensions, individuals do develop their unique personality attributes due to distinctive family socialization processes and particular lived experiences.

The term, “self-construal,” was coined by Hazel Markus and Shinobu Kitayama (1991) , and is concerned with one’s personalized self-image as emphasizing either an independent or an interdependent self. In individualistic cultural communities, there may be more situations that evoke the need for independent-based actions. In collectivistic communities, there may be more situations that demand the sensitivity for interdependent-based decisions.

The manner in which individuals conceive of their self-images should have a profound influence on the expectancies of what constitute appropriate and effective responses in diverse facework situations. Both dimensions of self also exist within each individual, regardless of cultural membership identity ( Ting-Toomey, Oetzel, & Yee-Jung, 2001 ). For example, Oetzel and Ting-Toomey (2003) and Oetzel, Garcia, and Ting-Toomey (2008) found that independent self-construal is associated positively with self-face concern and the use of dominating/competing conflict strategies. Interdependent self-construal, on the other hand, is associated positively with other-face concern and the use of avoiding and integrating conflict tactics. It would appear that independent self-construal fosters the use of upfront and low-context demanding interaction responses, while interdependent self-construal emphasizes circumspective and high-context yielding interaction patterns.

Two other possible factors that moderate the activation of an independent versus an interdependent self are situational role appraisal and ingroup/outgroup distance factors. Situational role appraisal factors can include the degree of formality of the conflict setting, the interaction climate of the situation, the role relationship between the conflict participants, and the perceived goals of the facework negotiation process. To illustrate, the role appraisal process can include an assessment of the role expectancies between the conflict parties such as professional role identities and other salient group membership and personal identity concerns.

For example, Merkin (2006 ; see also, Merkin & Ramadan, 2010 ) has integrated small/large power distance value dimension to the individualism-collectivism value dimension in explaining face-threatening response messages and conflict styles in multiple cultures. She found that high-status individuals from large power distance cultures tend to use both direct and indirect facework strategies to deal with face-threatening situations—depending on whether they were delivering positive or negative messages. Thus, an accurate assessment of the culture-based situational factors that frame facework strategy usage can be critical in promoting competent conflict management outcome. Integrating the intergroup perspective with the face-negotiation theoretical frame can yield additional insights among identity, face-sensitive concern, and sociocultural membership issues.

Intergroup Face Negotiation Perspective

According to social identity theory, social categories (group memberships) are mechanisms by which individuals relate to each other ( Tajfel & Turner, 1979 ). Even in casual conversations when social identity (group membership) of any conversational partner becomes salient it changes the dynamics of conversations from interpersonal to intergroup interaction (see Giles et al, 2010 ). In this regard, individuals have to constantly negotiate intergroup boundary issues (the intertwined nature of personal and social identity) with others and even in close friendship setting. For example, Gideon, a Chinese/French American bicultural-biracial individual (Male, 25) articulated:

I feel like I have to introduce myself constantly to my friends based on my dual heritage, rather than other deep qualities I have. It is like people only see that mix when first meeting me and they do not really want to take the time to understand the real, inner me. I have to talk about all the cultural background things before we can have a further, deeper discussion. It can get annoying and frustrating at times but I sort of understand why people or even my friends are in a way “fascinated” by it. ( Toomey et al., 2013 , p. 122).

The above statements clearly reflect the salience of social identity/group membership and its impact on communication with others. Notably, this particular bicultural-biracial individual struggles with group membership-based face negotiation—his claim to positive image in the context of social interaction. Importantly, his face and facework are based on social categorization or group membership. Notably, he could not simply bypassed his group membership in encounters because others including his friends de-individualize him with ascribed social identity based on his mixed-feature appearance.

In essence, traditional intergroup scholars have not paid much attention to face negotiation and the relationship between group membership-based facework and communication convergence/divergence issues ( Harwood & Giles, 2005 ). These integrative theoretical concepts can enrich intergroup understanding of identity, language/verbal styles, and communication issues. FNT explicates three types of face concern—self-face concern, other-face concern, and mutual face concern to manage identity-sensitive communication issues in a variety of problematic interactional situations within and across cultures.

From an intergroup perspective, there could be four group membership face concerns: ingroup membership face concern (IGMFC), outgroup membership face concern (OGMFC), intergroup membership face concern (ITMFC), and community membership face concern (CMMFC). IGMFC is the degree of protective concern for the positive communicative image of one’s own ingroup especially when that group-based image is threatened in social interaction. OGMFC is the degree of concern for accommodating the outgroup members’ communicative image in social interaction from being further insulted or challenged. ITMFC is the degree of mutual back-and-forth diplomacy concern for preserving the positive images of both ingroup and outgroup in social interaction. Lastly, CMMFC is the degree of face-identity concern about the larger world stage’s reaction or the surrounding eyewitness community’s reaction. Importantly, these face concerns can provide an explanation for why group members use different accommodative or divergent strategies in international or intergroup facework negotiation setting. These are intimately connected to understanding intergroup categorization process and enacting skillful facework diplomacy tactics.

Additionally, many relational distance factors are important in competent intergroup-intercultural facework discourse practice. One critical factor is recognizing power distance dominance-deference issues in facework negotiation process ( Holtgraves, 2009 ; see also, Holtgraves & Kashima, 2008 ). Another factor is having a good grasp of how a particular cultural community defines in-group and out-group and what constitutes appropriate in-group versus out-group linguistic or verbal exchange processes. Take, for example, from the Japanese communication lens, Midooka (1990) , who categorized four groups of Japanese relationships, noted that the Japanese in-group consisting of kino-okenai-kankei and nakama and the Japanese out-group consisting of najimi-no-tanin and muen-no-kankei .

Kino-okenai-kankei (“intimate ingroups”) consists of very intimate or equal-status relationships in which communication is causal, open, and direct. Examples of such relationships are best friends, family/siblings, close relatives, childhood buddies, and dating relationships. In these relationships, differences in age or seniority are superseded by intimacy, and no hierarchical rituals, especially in the “best friends” category, are heeded. Thus, in Japanese “best friends” conflict situations, the process can involve more heart-to-heart talks to direct conflict self-disclosure. Nakama (“familiar interactive ingroups”), on the other hand, are close-contact in-group relations, especially in terms of everyday familiarity, yet not so much as to override status differences. These typically include everyday colleagues in the same workplace, and here, maximum care must be taken to observe interpersonal rituals and preserving relational harmony even under stressful conflict condition. A certain level of decorum or formality is expected to be maintained in this particular relationship category.

On the other hand, najimi-no-tanin (“acquaintance interactive outgroups”) refers to a less intimate, acquaintance relationship, characterized more as an outgroup rather than as an ingroup relationship. For example, outgroup relationships in this instance could mean acquaintance colleagues in other universities or a friend of a close friend who needs a favor. While being tanin , communication behaviors toward this “familiar” out-group member would differ greatly depending on the perceived value or reward/cost appraisal process of the relationship. However, since Japan is considered as an overall group-oriented society, social ties have interlocking importance and wider interdependent implications from one spectrum of the society to the next ( Ting-Toomey & Takai, 2006 ). If the relationship poses a threat to one’s public face, one is still careful to observe appropriate interaction formality and diplomatic conflict rituals. Cautious formality is exercised in the tanin situation more so than the nakama situation—as one misstep can be costly and can ruin one’s reputation or face beyond just the out-group circle. Finally, muen-no-kankei (“stranger outgroups”) indicates a purely outgroup, stranger relationship, also referred to as aka-no-tanin . Since strangers are way beyond the bounds of accepted social or personalized ties, oftentimes, no form of considerate behavior needs to be extended between the stranger-pair as no preexisting emotional sentiments bind the two people together. Indifference can be part of the conflict ritual in this peripheral outgroup category.

In sum, intergroup identity factors and relational distance parameters have a strong impact on what constitute appropriate and effective communication styles and adaptive facework behaviors in particular situations and in different cultural communities. A culturally competent communicator would need to increase his or her awareness concerning self and other’s social and personal identity issues and the group membership facework issues that are being experienced and displayed in the social discourse situation. The next section will conclude with some suggested directions for future research in the areas of intergroup identity negotiation and intergroup facework negotiation.

Future Research Directions

Researching intergroup identity language issues.

In terms of testing the interdependent relationship among language, identity, and sociocultural membership issues, here are some suggestions along the lines of language and convergence/divergence issues, and language and intergroup communication competence or incompetence issues. In responding to the language and convergence/divergence issues, here are some researchable questions: Under what conditions do different sociocultural identity members seek linguistic convergence or divergence? How do they decode whether the other identity member is capable of code-switching in the intergroup identity negotiation process? What paralinguistic or micro-nonverbal signals do individuals exchange that they would actually interpret as identity approval or liking, or identity insulting or patronizing? How could we better study nonverbal nuances that create a strong impact on the language and verbal style variations in intergroup communication process?

In addressing the language and intergroup communication competence issues, here are some research questions that need some urgent attention: What are some appropriate and effective discourse strategies that can be used to instill super-ordinate identities and interdependent fates among separate cultural/ethnic group circles? What is the role of a competent translator or interpreter in the diplomatic multi-track peace-building process? How can bilingual or multilingual mediators create a secure “third space” through the artful use of language to promote mutual intergroup respect among diverse identity groups?

Researching Intergroup Face Negotiation Issues

The following two research areas hold promise and need future research attention: intergroup facework situations, and intergroup facework competence. The study of face-negotiation in everyday discourse would definitely benefit by examining the relationship among situations, face concerns, and facework verbal and nonverbal codes’ usage. Questions such as the following need more systematic research investigations: Under what specific situational conditions would intergroup communicators be more interested in intergroup mutual-face protection versus ingroup face protection? Under what identity threat conditions would intergroup negotiators be more concerned with mutual-face protection versus mutual-face annihilation? What do the language codes of honor, dignity, respect, insult, and vengeance in different speech communities sound like? How could these codes be translated with optimal fidelity in correspondence to the original speech community?

In connecting the relationship among language, verbal styles, and intergroup facework competence, here are some researchable directions: What particular facework strategies can intergroup members use to promote mutual face respect? How can bicultural-biracial identity members display optimal facework competence in intergroup communication settings? How do they make strategic choices to foster ingroup connection and solidarity with one group without alienating the other group? Do we need to develop particular linguistic process competence theory for each sociocultural group or can we engage in a cross-cultural and cross-situational theorizing process? Beyond communication appropriateness, effectiveness, and adaptability, what are other competence yardsticks we need to incorporate in order for intergroup communicators to reach optimal competence level? What does optimal communication competence look like from a language or verbal communication competence standpoint?


This chapter advocates the importance of understanding complex identity issues and language variation issues from the three theoretical frameworks of identity negotiation theory, intergroup perspective including communication accommodation theory, and face negotiation theory. International bilingual and multilingual researchers are needed to work more collaboratively and systematically to uncover the process competence perspective in the study of language, communication, and sociocultural membership identity issues.

From the narrative approach to the functional- quantitative approach, more theoretical and research efforts are needed for us to truly understand the multiplicity of identity voices and lenses of individuals from diverse sociocultural communities. Dynamic language communicators are individuals who practice culture-sensitive verbal and nonverbal styles and can code-switch fluidly with the strategic use of artful language enactment. At the same time that they adhere to the criteria of communication appropriateness and effectiveness in the intergroup interaction setting, they are also highly attuning to the identity dynamics of their fellow intergroup conversation partners.

In sum, competent communicators are highly creative individuals who can use the art of language and strategic communication styles to convey intergroup membership identity support. They can also display great linguistic reframing skills by de-polarizing intergroup membership tensions. They are the mindful communicators who have a secure and grounded sense of identity and, simultaneously, lending this sense of attunement to core identity issues that are implicitly or explicitly expressed by their intergroup conversation partners. Toward this end, in this chapter, we have unpacked and discussed the complex relationship among language variations, identity, and sociocultural membership from multiple identity-based perspectives. Drawing from the intercultural and intergroup communication literature, we are able to extend some of the existing identity-based frameworks forward and incorporating a wide-angle lens in exploring the intersecting paths of the ever fascinating phenomenon of language, identity, and culture.

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The 8 Main Ways Language and Culture Are Related

To fully learn and appreciate a language, you need to understand the culture of the people who speak it.

Learning about different cultures helps us approach languages with new insight. It allows us to delve deeper into the meaning of  words and expressions  and helps us feel more connected to each other.

In a nutshell, the relationship between language and culture is symbiotic , with language both reflecting and shaping the values, beliefs and identity of a society, while culture provides the context and meaning through which language is understood and interpreted.

Read on to explore the relationship between language and culture more deeply. Hopefully, when you’re done, you’ll have a new appreciation for the language you’re currently studying as well as the culture it comes from. 

What Does Language Have to Do with Culture?

1. language reflects the values and beliefs of a culture, 2. language reflects our perception of the world, 3. language gives us a away to express our culture, 4. language allows for transmission of culture, 5. language shapes perceptions, 6. language gives us identity and belonging, 7. language holds cultural norms and etiquette, 8. language reflects cultural innovation and change, historical perspective: the link between the history of a culture and its language, use ancient terms as cultural examples, look for footprints left by other cultures on a language, note the ever-evolving meaning of words, how this understanding affects your language learning journey, and one more thing....

Download: This blog post is available as a convenient and portable PDF that you can take anywhere. Click here to get a copy. (Download)

A man being covered in brightly dyed powder at an Indian holi festival

To answer this question, let’s think about the purpose of language .

Language allows us to express our thoughts and feelings as well as communicate and share knowledge with one another.

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. This is because language is constantly in flux and largely dependent on the ever-evolving views, values and customs of its speakers.

Let’s look at just how connected they really are.

The differences between two cultures are reflected in their languages . 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. 

Taking a look at common expressions and idioms gives you a glimpse into what a society deems important.

For example, the vast number of Chinese idioms relating to family demonstrates the value they place on this relationship and tells us a little about the family construct.

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.”

Have you ever heard the phrase “A Whistle in the Dark” or noticed any of the other words and expressions for the word courage ? Such observations would lead an English learner to believe that bravery is a highly coveted attribute in English-speaking societies.

But that’s not the only connection between language and culture.

Language affects the way we perceive the world and therefore, how we choose to interact with it.

When discussing language and perception, most linguists will probably point you to the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis , which states that the limits and structure of language determines their user’s thoughts and actions. This hypothesis is supported by professor Lera Boroditsky who wrote a whole paper on the topic of linguistic relativity .

Those who study linguistic relativity often explore the concept of time and space between languages. Boroditsky 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. the order of events is viewed from top to bottom).

Others have studied the connection between  bilingualism and personality , finding that when people switch languages they also seem to “switch” their personality to fit the language, shifting their way of thinking to reflect that of the people who speak the respective language. 

Language reflects perception, but also the history of a culture and explains why certain ideas and beliefs are so prominent and profound.

A great way to expose yourself to a culture’s unique perspective and values is to engage with native media produced by people from that culture . One way you can do this is by using an immersion program such as FluentU .

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Language is a medium for artistic expression, including literature, poetry, music and theater, so it’s not a stretch to say that language literally allows us to express our culture in all its forms.

These forms of cultural expression not only enrich the language but also provide insights into the values, aesthetics and creativity of a culture.

Language is the primary vehicle for transmitting culture from one generation to the next.

Through language, traditions, stories, rituals and historical accounts are passed down , helping to maintain cultural identity and cohesion.

Think of the lessons, morals and stories that your grandparents and parents gave to you through language, and soon you’ll realize that language is a delivery device for all things culture.

The language we speak shapes our perceptions and worldview.

Different languages have unique ways of expressing concepts and experiences , influencing how speakers perceive and interpret the world around them.

For example, in Turkish, the past tense changes depending on whether the speaker has actually seen the action with their own eyes, or if they merely heard about the action taking place.

Language is a fundamental aspect of personal and group identity.

Speaking a particular language can foster a sense of belonging to a specific cultural community, while language loss or suppression can lead to feelings of alienation and cultural disconnection.

Just think of the Native American tribes that have lost their languages through various processes including the introduction of English and Spanish. These tribes, on average, have higher rates of poverty and shorter lifespans, compared with tribes whose language is prospering.

Language often contains implicit cultural norms and etiquette.

Understanding the nuances of language usage, such as appropriate forms of address, greetings and expressions of politeness , is essential for effective communication within a cultural context.

For example, if you walked up to a Japanese person you never met, said hello, told them about your day and then kissed them, they might be totally freaked out. If you did the same to a French person, they’d accept it as normal.

Language is dynamic and continually evolves, often influenced by cultural changes and interactions.

New words, expressions and linguistic conventions emerge as cultures evolve, reflecting shifts in societal values, technology, and global influences.

This also tells us a lot about cultural power dynamics. Think of the word “internet” for example. Many languages use this word even though it originated in English, where much of the internet-related businesses were founded.

Two robed people sit together in Bhutan

Understanding a culture’s history allows you to form some idea of how and why certain words came to mean what they do. For example, in Mandarin, 心 (Xīn)  is often directly translated to “heart” in English. However, the word also refers to the mind and one’s emotions.

The meaning of the word is an important concept in Daoist teachings and makes those teachings much more accessible to Mandarin speakers.

The history of a culture explains the power a term or idea can carry in a language, but it also explains the existence of certain linguistic elements.

To really understand a language, you also have to ask yourself about the influence of other cultures on it.

The English language is a perfect example of mixing cultures and language. The Germanic Anglo-Normans and Latin-based French essentially planted the seed for English as we know it to grow.

Learning all about its history will help you understand the meaning behind certain words and phrases with Latin roots , as well as other words of foreign language descent .

English isn’t the only example of a language with a rich history. If you’re studying one of the Romance languages, it helps to learn about European history and the spread of Latin.

Maybe you’re learning Spanish and wondering why there are so many words that start with  al ? Spanish has many words of Arabic origin due to the  Islamic conquest of Spain , such as al fombra  (rug, carpet),  al mohada  (pillow) and  al godón (cotton).

Knowing the history of a culture is not just a way to get clarification, it also shows how words have evolved to reflect the current cultural climate.

When looking at etymology (the study of word origins and development), you’ll find that many words once meant one thing but now mean something else entirely.

In the past, it was almost impossible to pinpoint the redefining moments for these words. The broadening or dissolution of their original meanings tended to just happen slowly over time with usage. Nowadays, we can study this much more closely.

Words can evolve in various ways. Sometimes they can start out as harmless phrases but evolve to be quite rude, like the word “bimbo” which has its roots in the Italian word  “bambino” (little child). In English, this originally referred to an unintelligent man, but over time it came to be quite a derogatory term for an attractive, but not very bright, woman.

Another example is the word “awesome.” Its root is “awe” which used to be synonymous with “dread.” The word maintained that connotation until around the late 1970s when people started using it to describe great things.

As you can see, our ever-developing culture forces language to develop alongside it . 

A man in Andean indigenous dress stands in the road

Being able to understand 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. Not doing so can cause some embarrassing or offensive situations.

Take a language like Japanese that has words that are closely tied to the culture. The Japanese don’t just have formal and informal forms, but honorific and humble forms as well. This is referred to as keigo .

When trying to master another language, the best thing to do is to go in without any expectations or preconceived notions and focus on understanding the culture behind it.

Now that you’ve learned about the deep connection between language and culture, you may be interested in watching this super interesting TEDx talk on the subject:

When you take that understanding of culture and apply it as you learn the language, single words suddenly carry new meanings and words you once found just quirky and strange start to make a lot more sense.

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language identity and culture essay questions

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Language and culture essay topics and questions for IELTS writing task 2

Home  »  IELTS writing task 2 questions  » Topics about language and culture for task 2

Some people think it is better to spend and enjoy their money once they earn it. Others think it is better to save their money and enjoy it in the future. Which stand do you agree with and why? Use specific reasons and examples to support your opinion.

Some people think it is alright to spend money for their wants, such as a new car or the latest gadget. Others think it is better to save their money and only buy what they really need. Which opinion do you agree with and why? Give specific details and examples in your answer.

Some parents do not allow their children to watch TV during school days. Others allow their children to watch TV as long as their school work is finished. Which approach do you agree with and why? Include specific examples and details in your explanation.

Some parents prefer to have their children be raised by their grandparents. Some prefer to raise them on their own. Which would you prefer and why? Include specific details and examples to support your choice.

Some parents allow their teenage children to live independently, away from home. Other parents don't want their teenage children to live away from them. Which do you think is better and why? Use specific reasons and details to support your answer.

Some people believe that watching television is bad for children. Other people believe that watching television is educational for children. Which opinion do you agree with and why? Give specific details and examples in your answer.

Some people believe that people behave differently when they wear different clothes, while others do not believe that clothes influence the way people behave. Which opinion do you agree with and why? Use specific reasons and details to support your answer.

Some people believe that success comes from hard work. Others believe that success has to do with luck. Which opinion do you agree with and why? Give specific details and examples to support your opinion.

Some people think the media – television and films – negatively affect people's behaviour. Others do not think so. How do you think the media affects people's behaviour? Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

Some people believe that progress is always good. Others believe in preserving tradition. Which do you think is more important and why? Use specific reasons and examples to support your opinion.

Do we have to plan for the future? Or stay focused on our present? What is your opinion and why? Provide examples to support your stand.

How do advertisements affect the trend of people and economy? Give specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

Some people believe that only people who have a lot of money are successful. Others believe that success does not always equate to having lots of money. Which statement do you agree with and why? Give specific details and examples in your answer.

In some companies, social skills is given priority over qualifications when screening their possible employees. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of this situation. Provide specific reasons and examples to support your opinion.

Countries should restrict foreign companies from opening offices and factories in order to protect local businesses. Do you agree or disagree? Give reasons and specific examples to explain your answer.

Young people prefer listening to music rather than listening to the news on the radio. Is this a positive or a negative trend? Provide reasons and examples for your opinion.

Some films are designed to make people think, while other films are designed to entertain or amuse people. Which type of film do you prefer and why? Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

Give reasons for the popularity of reality TV in the recent years. Explain the effects on society and the social meaning of this trend.

These days people pay more attention to famous film stars than to famous scientists. Why is this happening? Explain the trend, giving reasons and examples to support your opinion.

Does too much freedom for – today’s children give positive results? Why or why not? Include specific details and examples to support your answer.

Everything needs to be a bit challenging in order to be enjoyable. Do you agree or disagree with this statement? Give reasons and specific examples to explain your answer.

What is the impact of computer games on the children of today? Is it helping their development or making them worse? Why and why not? Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

Some people spend more and some spend less for wedding parties, birthday parties and other celebrations? Is it a waste of money or a social requirement? Include specific details and examples to support your choice.

In some countries people place more importance on their retirement years because they will have more time to enjoy their lives and will have shed most of their responsibilities. To what extent do you agree or disagree? Give specific reasons and examples to support your opinion.

Some people forget national holidays and prefer to celebrate their personal holidays more because more people are becoming less appreciative of their love of country. To what extent do you agree or disagree? Give specific reasons and examples to support your opinion.

Some parents think that the latest technologies (gadgets, computers, etc.) will help in their child's learning development. Others think giving children the latest gadgets will be a distraction in their studies. Which opinion do you agree with and why? Give specific details and examples in your answer.

Computer games help parents in the care for their children because they keep children occupied. Do you agree or disagree? To what extent do you agree or disagree? Give specific reasons and examples to support your opinion.

Some countries spend large amounts of money hosting international sports events like the Olympic Games. Instead, this money should be spent to provide information campaigns and infrastructure to encourage more ordinary people to participate in sports. To what extent do you agree or disagree? Give specific reasons and examples to support your opinion.

Do you think that public cultural and educational institutions should have a fee? Discuss your opinion and provide specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

Every generation of people is different in important ways. How is your generation different from your parents' generation? Include reasons and details in your explanation.

In some countries, it is normal for older people to live on their own rather than with their children What are the advantages and disadvantages of this trend? Give reasons and specific examples to explain your answer.

In some countries, people live with their parents and siblings until their old age. Do you think there are more advantages or disadvantages to this behaviour? Discuss your opinion and provide specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

Have you ever lived away from your parents? Describe your living situation and explain its advantages and disadvantages. Include specific details and examples to support your choice.

Some people say that advertisements are not good because it encourages us to buy things we don't really need. Others say that advertisements are good because it informs us about new products that can improve our lives. Which viewpoint do you agree with and why? Include specific details and examples to support your choice.

Some countries implement a national Identification system where all people's information are stored in a central database under state control. This is believed to be harmful to members of society by some. Do you support or oppose this opinion? Explain your position.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of shopping online? Share your own experience as an example in your answer. Give specific details and examples in your answer.

Many modern shopping centres are now becoming more popular than local market shops. What are the advantages and disadvantages of this consumer behaviour? Provide specific reasons and examples to support your position.

Some people prefer to live in a traditional house. Others prefer to live in a modern apartment building. Which do you prefer and why? Give specific details and examples in your answer.

In some developing countries, government funds are spent more on repairing buildings than building new ones. Does this help them save more money in the long run? Provide specific reasons and examples to support your position.

Some believe that it is better for each family to live by themselves rather than share a house with relatives. Do you agree or disagree? Provide specific reasons and examples to support your position.

Some parents allow their teenage children to live independently, away from home. Other parents do not want their teenage children to live far away from them. Which do you think is better and why? Use specific reasons and details to support your answer.

To what extent do you agree or disagree? Ads manipulate your taste and the way you think. Give specific reasons and examples to support your opinion.

What is your stand about the issue of young children having mobile phones? Is it beneficial or not? Why? Include specific details and examples to support your choice.

In the past people used more formal and long expressions to communicate with each other. Nowadays, we use fewer words and are more informal. Why is this happening? Use examples and specific details to explain your answer.

Compared to the past, more people are now trying to learn a foreign language to increase their chances of landing a better job in their native country or to have better opportunities to work abroad. To what extent do you agree with this point of view? Give specific reasons and examples to support your opinion.

People equate a good salary with success. Some say that money is not what will make you successful In your own opinion, what will make a person truly successful? Give specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

Money is the best way to motivate people to perform better in the workplace. To what extent do you agree with this statement. Provide specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

Many children participate in social networks on the internet instead of participating in community activities in their neighbourhood. What are the advantages and disadvantages of this situation? Use specific reasons and examples to support your opinion.

Some people prefer to live in a quiet place, such as the countryside. Others prefer to live in a big city. Which place do you prefer to live in and why? Use specific reasons and examples to support your opinion.

People are becoming less interested in community activities. What is causing this behaviour and what will be the result? Provide explanations and examples to support your answer.

Some people believe that children should be required to learn other languages at a young age because it will be useful for their personal development. Do you support or oppose this opinion? Explain your position.

Some people believe that children should be obligated to help with household chores as soon as they are able to. Others believe that children should not be forced to do household chores. Which opinion do you agree with and why? Use specific reasons and details to support your answer.

Due to computers and their busy lifestyle people do not spend as much time with other people. Do you think this is positive or negative? Provide specific reasons and examples to support your opinion.

Some argue that film and television are a waste of time, because they do not have a direct connection with people's lives. To what extent do you agree or disagree?

Many children prefer playing interactive games to playing traditional games. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages. Provide specific reasons and examples to support your opinion.

Nowadays we are more and more a consumer-oriented society. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of this situation. Provide specific reasons and examples to support your opinion.

Violent news stories should not be shown on television and newspapers because they promote violence. To what extent do you agree or disagree? Provide specific reasons and examples to support your opinion.

Compared to the past, children now spend more time for playing virtual simulation games and participating in online social networks than meeting people in person to socialize. How has this behaviour affected society? Discuss the reasons and consequences of this behaviour. Provide specific examples to support your answer.

Do children need to be rewarded when they behave properly? Do we need to punish or beat them if they make mistakes? What is your view on this? Give specific reasons and examples to support you answer.

Some people consider big events, such as, weddings, birthdays and overseas travel as the most significant time of their lives. Others consider their present daily life the most significant time in their lives. Which do you consider more important and why?

Do you think it is necessary to spend a lot of money when people celebrate birthdays or is it better to save the money for other purpose? Provide specific reasons and examples to support your opinion.

In some countries people are happy when they retire and remain very active. In other countries, they are considered too old to enjoy their lives. Which opinion do you hold? Provide specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

Some people think that analysing and planning is the right way to achieve things, while others believe that a more easy-going approach is better in life. Discuss your opinion and give examples.

Some believe that youngsters should be friends with older people rather than fear and respect them. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each point of view. Provide specific reasons and examples to support your opinion.

Children should always start studying foreign languages from an early age. To what extent do you agree or disagree? Use specific reasons and examples to support your position.

Do you think that teenagers should be left to develop naturally or should be directed towards what their parents think is good for them? Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of these methods. Provide specific reasons and examples to support your opinion.

These days even young people can become rich and famous. Do you think this is good or bad? Provide specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

In your own opinion, do you think that advertisements are informative? Why or why not? Give specific reasons and examples to support you answer.

Some believe that there are too many advertisements in the internet, radio and television and that even the contents of shows and news articles become advertisements themselves. To what extent do you agree or disagree to this statement? Provide suggestions to address the situation. Give specific examples to explain your answer.

Should buildings in cities be expanded without restrictions or should their size be limited to a certain extent? Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of this limitation. Provide specific reasons and examples to support your opinion.

Young people prefer living in big cities. What will this tendency lead to? Suggest reasons and results of this trend. Provide specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

In some countries, buildings of historical value are being demolished to give way to modern buildings. Do you think that it is better to preserve the old historical outlook of buildings or it is better to incorporate only new styles of architecture? Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of this situation. Provide specific reasons and examples to support your opinion.

In some countries, women are given special days leave for their monthly period. Some think that this is a form of discrimination between genders. Do you agree or disagree? Provide specific reasons and examples to support your position.

More people now work overseas. What are the reasons why people are doing so? Does this trend have more advantages or disadvantages? Provide specific reasons and examples to support your opinion.

Some companies now use services of freelancers who work online from their homes. What are the advantages and disadvantages of this trend? Provide specific reasons and examples to support your opinion.

Nowadays many companies use low paid intern ships and student labour to their benefit. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of this trend. Provide specific reasons and examples to support your opinion.

The most popular modern media is the internet. Do you think it will replace all other available media of communication? Provide specific reasons and examples to support your opinion.

Some couples nowadays prefer to maintain a good career rather than having children? What are the advantages and disadvantages of choosing career over family? Give specific reasons and examples to support you answer.

Would you prefer having children earlier or later in life? How will it affect society as a whole? Give reasons and examples to support your answer.

Some people argue that the best way to have work efficiency is for the worker to work for several days and then takes a few days off. To what extent do you agree or disagree with this arrangement? Provide specific reasons and examples to support your opinion.

Some people think that it is better to stick to one job, while others think when they swap jobs they will have a better chance to gain more knowledge and money. Which do you agree with and why? Discuss both sides and provide specific reasons and examples to support your opinion.

Many people think that having lots of money is the best way to guarantee happiness, while others think that it depends on other factors. Compare these two views. Provide specific reasons and examples to support your position.

Not all workers get to work on the job they are qualified for. Why do you think this is so? Provide specific reasons and examples to support your opinion.

Some people think that in modern society one needs to focus on their career while leaving personal development and values behind. What do you think is more important? Provide specific reasons and examples to support your opinion.

More people now buy products that they do - not need because they are persuaded by advertising. To what extent do you agree or disagree? Give specific reasons and examples to support your opinion.

Young people believe that they live in a better world than older generations. To what extent do you agree or disagree? Give specific reasons and examples to support your opinion.

Some people believe that hard work is vital for success, while others think that education guarantees success more than anything. Which do you agree with? Use specific reasons and examples to support your position.

People are more aware of fashion nowadays and it continues to be a huge business, with a lot of advertising involved and millions of dollars of being paid to models. Discuss whether this is a good or bad trend. Provide specific reasons and examples to support your opinion.

According to some people, living in a big city is not as good for families as living in a small town. To what extent do you agree or disagree? Give specific reasons and examples to support your opinion.

In some cities, child care centres are situated near business establishments and operate before and beyond office hours so parents can leave their children before work and pick them up on their way home. Will this be good for the child's overall development? Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of this situation. Provide specific reasons and examples to support your opinion.

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The power of language: How words shape people, culture

Speaking, writing and reading are integral to everyday life, where language is the primary tool for expression and communication. Studying how people use language – what words and phrases they unconsciously choose and combine – can help us better understand ourselves and why we behave the way we do.

Linguistics scholars seek to determine what is unique and universal about the language we use, how it is acquired and the ways it changes over time. They consider language as a cultural, social and psychological phenomenon.

“Understanding why and how languages differ tells about the range of what is human,” said Dan Jurafsky , the Jackson Eli Reynolds Professor in Humanities and chair of the Department of Linguistics in the School of Humanities and Sciences at Stanford . “Discovering what’s universal about languages can help us understand the core of our humanity.”

The stories below represent some of the ways linguists have investigated many aspects of language, including its semantics and syntax, phonetics and phonology, and its social, psychological and computational aspects.

Understanding stereotypes

Stanford linguists and psychologists study how language is interpreted by people. Even the slightest differences in language use can correspond with biased beliefs of the speakers, according to research.

One study showed that a relatively harmless sentence, such as “girls are as good as boys at math,” can subtly perpetuate sexist stereotypes. Because of the statement’s grammatical structure, it implies that being good at math is more common or natural for boys than girls, the researchers said.

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, unknowingly.

Girl solving math problem

How well-meaning statements can spread stereotypes unintentionally

New Stanford research shows that sentences that frame one gender as the standard for the other can unintentionally perpetuate biases.

Human silhouette

Algorithms reveal changes in stereotypes

New Stanford research shows that, over the past century, linguistic changes in gender and ethnic stereotypes correlated with major social movements and demographic changes in the U.S. Census data.

Katherine Hilton

Exploring what an interruption is in conversation

Stanford doctoral candidate Katherine Hilton found that people perceive interruptions in conversation differently, and those perceptions differ depending on the listener’s own conversational style as well as gender.

Policeman with body-worn videocamera (body-cam)

Cops speak less respectfully to black community members

Professors Jennifer Eberhardt and Dan Jurafsky, along with other Stanford researchers, detected racial disparities in police officers’ speech after analyzing more than 100 hours of body camera footage from Oakland Police.

How other languages inform our own

People speak roughly 7,000 languages worldwide. Although there is a lot in common among languages, each one is unique, both in its structure and in the way it reflects the culture of the people who speak it.

Jurafsky said it’s important to study languages other than our own and how they develop over time because it can help scholars understand what lies at the foundation of humans’ unique way of communicating with one another.

“All this research can help us discover what it means to be human,” Jurafsky said.

language identity and culture essay questions

Stanford PhD student documents indigenous language of Papua New Guinea

Fifth-year PhD student Kate Lindsey recently returned to the United States after a year of documenting an obscure language indigenous to the South Pacific nation.

dice marked with letters of the alphabet

Students explore Esperanto across Europe

In a research project spanning eight countries, two Stanford students search for Esperanto, a constructed language, against the backdrop of European populism.

language identity and culture essay questions

Chris Manning: How computers are learning to understand language​

A computer scientist discusses the evolution of computational linguistics and where it’s headed next.

Map showing frequency of the use of the Spanish pronoun 'vos' as opposed to 'tú' in Latin America

Stanford research explores novel perspectives on the evolution of Spanish

Using digital tools and literature to explore the evolution of the Spanish language, Stanford researcher Cuauhtémoc García-García reveals a new historical perspective on linguistic changes in Latin America and Spain.

Language as a lens into behavior

Linguists analyze how certain speech patterns correspond to particular behaviors, including how language can impact people’s buying decisions or influence their social media use.

For example, in one research paper, a group of Stanford researchers examined the differences in how Republicans and Democrats express themselves online to better understand how a polarization of beliefs can occur on social media.

“We live in a very polarized time,” Jurafsky said. “Understanding what different groups of people say and why is the first step in determining how we can help bring people together.”

language identity and culture essay questions

Analyzing the tweets of Republicans and Democrats

New research by Dora Demszky and colleagues examined how Republicans and Democrats express themselves online in an attempt to understand how polarization of beliefs occurs on social media.

Examining bilingual behavior of children at Texas preschool

A Stanford senior studied a group of bilingual children at a Spanish immersion preschool in Texas to understand how they distinguished between their two languages.

Linguistics professor Dan Jurafsky in his office

Predicting sales of online products from advertising language

Stanford linguist Dan Jurafsky and colleagues have found that products in Japan sell better if their advertising includes polite language and words that invoke cultural traditions or authority.

language identity and culture essay questions

Language can help the elderly cope with the challenges of aging, says Stanford professor

By examining conversations of elderly Japanese women, linguist Yoshiko Matsumoto uncovers language techniques that help people move past traumatic events and regain a sense of normalcy.

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{{item.title}}, my essentials, ask for help, contact edconnect, directory a to z, how to guides, english k–12, english standard – year 12 – module a – language, identity and culture.

Sample lesson sequences, sample assessment and resources for 'Language, identity and culture'.

Teachers can adapt the following units of work as required.

  • The Castle – Sample lesson sequence (DOCX 54KB)
  • The Castle – Sample assessment (DOCX 40KB)
  • The Castle – Resource 1 (DOCX 36KB)
  • The Castle – Resource 2 (DOCX 36KB)
  • The Castle – Resource 3 (DOCX 339KB)
  • The Castle – Resource 4 (DOCX 35B)
  • The Castle – Resource 5 (DOCX 67KB)
  • The Castle – Resource 6 (DOCX 39KB)
  • The Castle – Resource 7 (DOCX 36KB)
  • The Castle – Resource 8 (DOCX 37KB)
  • The Castle – Resource 9 (PPTX 1.2MB)

Henry Lawson

  • Henry Lawson: Sample lesson sequence (DOCX 64KB)
  • Henry Lawson: Sample assessment imaginative (DOCX 43KB)
  • Henry Lawson: Sample assessment multimodal (DOCX 41KB)
  • Henry Lawson – Resource 1 (DOCX 41KB)
  • Henry Lawson – Resource 2 (DOCX 57KB)
  • Henry Lawson – Resource 3a (DOCX 41KB)
  • Henry Lawson – Resource 3b (DOCX 33KB)
  • Henry Lawson – Resource 4 (DOCX 43KB)
  • Henry Lawson – Resource 4a (DOCX 39KB)
  • Henry Lawson – Resource 4b (DOCX 36KB)
  • Henry Lawson – Resource 5 (DOCX 46KB)
  • Henry Lawson – Resource 5a (DOCX 44KB)
  • Henry Lawson – Resource 5b (DOCX 43KB)
  • Henry Lawson – Resource 6 (DOCX 39KB)
  • Henry Lawson – Resource 7 (DOCX 41KB)
  • Henry Lawson – Resource 7b (DOCX 50KB)
  • Henry Lawson – Resource 8 (DOCX 37KB)
  • Henry Lawson – Resource 9a (DOCX 48KB)
  • Henry Lawson – Resource 9b (DOCX 44KB)
  • Henry Lawson – Resource 9c (DOCX 40KB)
  • Henry Lawson – Resource 10 (DOCX 49KB)
  • Henry Lawson – Resource 11 (DOCX 14KB)
  • Henry Lawson – Stan Grant Extra resource (DOCX 50KB)

Inside my Mother – Eckermann

  • Inside my Mother – Eckermann (PPTX 5.66 MB)
  • Inside my Mother – Eckermann: resource booklet (DOCX 254 KB)
  • Inside my Mother – Eckermann: sample program (DOCX 310 KB)
  • Pygmalion: Sample lesson sequence (97KB)
  • Pygmalion: Sample assessment (48KB)
  • Pygmalion – Resource 1 (DOCX 43KB)
  • Pygmalion – Resource 2 (DOCX 44KB)
  • Pygmalion – Resource 3 (DOCX 45KB)
  • Pygmalion – Resource 4 (DOCX 42KB)
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  • Pygmalion – Resource 10 (DOCX 46KB)
  • Pygmalion – Resource 11 (DOCX 47KB)
  • Pygmalion – Resource 12 (DOCX 45KB)
  • Pygmalion – Resource 13 (DOCX 3MB)
  • Pygmalion – Resource 14 (DOCX 30KB)
  • Pygmalion – Resource 15 (DOCX 44KB)
  • Pygmalion – Resource 15a (DOCX 46KB)
  • Pygmalion – Resource 16 (DOCX 282KB)
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  • Pygmalion – Resource 26 (DOCX 57KB)
  • Pygmalion – Resource 27 (DOCX 47KB)
  • Pygmalion – Resource 28 (DOCX 46KB)
  • Pygmalion – Resource 28a (DOCX 81KB)
  • Pygmalion – Resource 29 (DOCX 44KB)
  • Pygmalion – Resource 30 (DOCX 44KB)
  • Pygmalion – Resource 31 (DOCX 45KB)
  • Pygmalion – Resource 32 (DOCX 43KB)
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  • Pygmalion – Resource 34 (DOCX 44KB)
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  • Pygmalion – Resource 36 (DOCX 48KB)
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  • Pygmalion – Resource 43 (DOCX 218KB)
  • Pygmalion – Resource 45 (DOCX 44KB)
  • Pygmalion – Resource 46 (DOCX 43KB)
  • Pygmalion – Resource 47 (DOCX 44KB)
  • Pygmalion – Resource 48 (DOCX 45KB)
  • Pygmalion – Resource 49 (DOCX 44KB)
  • Pygmalion – Resource 50 (DOCX 44KB)

Note: There is no Resource 44.

The New York Times

The learning network | do you speak my language considering the relationship between language and culture.

The Learning Network - Teaching and Learning With The New York Times

Do You Speak My Language? Considering the Relationship Between Language and Culture

French immigrants

Language Arts

Teaching ideas based on New York Times content.

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Overview | What does culture mean in an increasingly globalized, connected world? What is the relationship between language and culture? In this lesson, students consider the connection between French and other cultures and languages by discussing key quotations from relevant Times articles and sharing their insights on the questions they raise.

Materials | Student journals, computer with Internet access and a projector (optional), copies of the handout.

Note to Teacher | This lesson can be used in and adapted for a range of humanities courses, including English and comparative literature, foreign and world languages, English as second/foreign language and social studies. It might make for a good course introduction and/or wrap-up, or it might be paired with related content, like the teaching of works by Vladimir Nabokov or Joseph Conrad.

Warm-Up | Ask students to make a list in their journals of words they associate with a particular culture. As an example, tell them to think about words used at school that “outsiders” wouldn’t understand. They might also consider jargon used by people in a particular profession, contemporary slang used among friends and/or online and even words that are part of a corporate culture, like Starbucks .

Once students have had time to make their lists, ask them to share examples and then draw on these examples to discuss some or all of the following questions:

  • Why do some groups create and use their own “languages” ?
  • What are the effects of having shared a vocabulary and language?
  • How does language reflect culture? How does language shape culture?
  • What exactly is culture? Is it static or fixed?
  • How do new technologies and the Internet affect culture?

At this point, you might also wish to show the video “ City of Endangered Languages ,” about “endangered languages” that are still spoken in New York City:

After the video, have students discuss what it means for languages to “die” and even how they might feel to learn years from now that their native tongue (or even their slang system) were facing extinction. How integral is language to their sense of individual and group identity and culture?

Related | In the article “Pardon My French,” Michael Kimmelman explores the relationship between language and culture in a rapidly changing, increasingly global world:

So what does French culture signify these days when there are some 200 million French speakers in the world but only 65 million are actually French? Culture in general — and not just French culture — has become increasingly unfixed, unstable, fragmentary and elective. Globalization has hastened the desire of more people, both groups and individuals, to differentiate themselves from one another to claim a distinct place in the world, and language has long been an obvious means to do so. In Canada the Quebecers tried outlawing signs and other public expressions in anything but French. Basque separatists have been murdering Spaniards in the name of political, linguistic and cultural independence, just as Franco imprisoned anyone who spoke Basque or Catalan. In Belgium the split between French and Dutch speakers has divided the country for ages.

Read the article with your class, using the questions below.

Questions | For discussion and reading comprehension:

  • Who is Éric Zemmour, and why is he a polarizing figure?
  • Why is the rise of English in France “more acute” that the rise of the use of Spanish in the United States?
  • Where and in what ways is French thriving?
  • What is “l’exception culturelle”? What fear does it reflect?
  • Why do some writers outside France write in French? How does their use of language reflect their identity and relationship to the French culture?

City of Endangered Languages

New York has long been a city of immigrants, but linguists now consider it a laboratory for studying and preserving languages in rapid decline elsewhere in the world.

Activity | Explain to students that they will read and respond to some statements about culture and language drawn from Times articles, in preparation for small group discussions on the issues.

Give each student a copy of the handout “At the Intersection of Language and Culture” (PDF) and tell them to read the 12 statements and jot down their thoughts on each one (or on selected/assigned ones), as the directions indicate. Encourage them to be prepared to justify their opinions, but also to remain open to having their minds changed in dialogue with their peers.


From the learning network.

  • Lesson: Having the Last Word
  • Lesson: Speaking in Tongues
  • Activity: Culture Shot

From NYTimes.com

  • Freakonomics Blog: What Will Globalization Do to Languages?
  • Ideas Blog: The Rise of ‘Globish’
  • Room for Debate Blog: The Chinese Language, Ever Evolving

Around the Web

  • Organisation internationale de la Francophonie
  • The Cultural Services of the French Embassy
  • Palomar College: Language and Culture Tutorial

After students have completed the handout, arrange them into four small groups, as outlined below; give each group a copy of the pertinent questions. Tell them to share their thoughts on the quotations and discuss questions that the statements raised about culture and language. Then they should consider the issues through their assigned question set. Tell them to take notes as they discuss so that they can report back to the larger group when they are finished. And remind them to support their ideas with concrete examples.

Group 1: What is culture? Where does culture come from? Where do we see evidence of it? What role does it play in our lives? In society? How does it reflect and/or shape our individual, group and national identities?

Group 2: What is the relationship between culture and language? How does the use of language represent the broader notion of national or cultural identity? Why is language vital to cultural and national identity? How does it unify people? How might it separate them?

Group 3: What does culture mean in a global world? Does globalization bring cultures together, force them further apart or both? Does it lead more to diversity or to homogeny? Does globalization mean Americanization?

Group 4: How do writers use language to reflect and shape culture? Why might writers choose to write in a language that is not “their own”? What issues are raised by writing in one’s nonnative tongue? What issues are raised by reading works in translation? Do works in translation belong in an English literature class?

When groups are ready, reconvene as a class to share responses. Encourage students to take notes to help them prepare for their homework assignment and ensure they are prepared for further discussion in a future class.

To close class, ask students how their thinking about language and culture evolved during the course of this discussion.

Going further | Randomly, give each student one of the following six articles to read (note that the last one is heavy on philosophy, so reserve it for more sophisticated thinkers) and annotate for homework:

  • “Listening To (and Saving) the World’s Languages.”
  • “Indian Tribes Go in Search of Their Lost Languages.”
  • “Abroad: D.I.Y. Culture.”
  • “Globish: The Worldwide Dialect of the Third Millennium.”
  • “Should English Be the Law?”
  • “Language Is Culture and Culture Is Language.”

Note that the quotations on the handout were taken from some of these sources.

In a future class, ask students to return to their original groups and discuss further the questions they examined together earlier, using what they learned from their additional reading. They should begin by taking turns and sharing the main ideas from their new readings, and then build on their earlier discussion by drawing on these articles. Finally, reconvene as a class to discuss students’ new insights on the big questions about language, culture and globalization.

Teachers might be interested in this article detailing the implications of the relationship between language and culture for teachers.

Alternatively, or additionally, students write personal essays about their relationships with language and culture. They might focus on one or more of the following questions:

  • What is your relationship to your native language and culture?
  • What is your relationship to other languages and cultures?
  • How does language shape your identity?
  • How does culture (or cultures) shape your identity?
  • In what way have you created your own culture and identity by adopting elements from those you have lived in?

Standards | From McREL , for grades 6-12:

Behavioral Studies 1. Understands that group and cultural influences contribute to human development, identity and behavior. 3. Understands that interactions among learning, inheritance and physical development affect human behavior.

Foreign Language 4. Understands traditional ideas and perspectives, institutions, professions, literary and artistic expressions, and other components of the target culture. 5. Understands that different languages use different patterns to communicate and applies this knowledge to the target and native languages.

Language Arts 1. Uses the general skills and strategies of the writing process. 5. Uses the general skills and strategies of the reading process. 7. Uses the general skills and strategies to understand a variety of informational texts. 8. Uses listening and speaking strategies for different purposes.

Life Skills: Working With Others 1. Contributes to the overall effort of a group. 4. Displays effective interpersonal communication skills.

Technology 3. Understands the relationships among science, technology, society and the individual.

Comments are no longer being accepted.

Should we have auto Translator OR we have to meet in the middle? What about digital information languages? Or it will be cloud-cultures !!

I don’t know where my article has gone. Even though, I considerer that people speaking endangered langauges has more facilities to learn other languages than people speaking majority idioms.

MIQUEL ÀNGEL ESTÉVEZ (Barcelona [Catalonia]) Southern Europe

In culture there is language in it. I think you can explain the concept or compare some example. It’s easy to understand.

language helps children gain an insight into another culture, another way of life, which may or may not be related to their own.

Bishop Mora Salesian High School Ms. Barranco Jason P Period 4 6/2/2010

Importance of Culture

If you say that a language is dying, it means that not a lot of people speak it anymore and the young are not learning it. If my native language, which is Spanish, would die out I would be very emotional because Spanish is a language that is spoken by a lot of people and in my opinion people should not be ashamed to speak the language of their culture. To me language is very important to one’s identity because it shows where you are coming from. One interesting thing I learned from this video was that people are now teaching their languages through songs. One thing I would like to learn more about languages that are dying out so that I can be more informed. Eric Zemmour is a man who is stressed about the idea that the French language is dying out. English in France is rising more than Spanish in the United States because English is a language that is easier to learn and is more common then Spanish. French is dying out within its own culture, but it is thriving in different cultures such as African, Arabian, Canadian, and in many more cultures. I’ exception culturelle refers to the legal exclusion of French cultural products such as movies. The fear that it reflects is that taking out French products will decrease even more the language of French which is already dying out. Writers outside of France write in French because they love the language and want to learn a different culture. Their use of the French language reflects their identity to French culture because they are part of it since they speak their language. Some groups create and use their own language to be distinct from their own culture and not be the same as everyone else. The effects of sharing a vocabulary and language lets cultures mix together, therefore making words we call slang. Language reflects culture because since the beginning of that culture the same language has been spoken throughout. Languages shape cultures because it makes them different from everyone else and serves as their own identity. Culture is an identification in the world which shows where you come from. Cultures around the whole world are changing because they are being introduced to new languages and cultures which cause them to mix and combine with each other. Technology and internet affect cultures because they make it easier to access different cultures from a computer. My primary language is Spanish and now I think I use it more because I have learned how to speak it well and my whole family speaks it at home. In my family it is disrespectful to speak English in front of our family because not all know it and do not understand what we are saying. Languages in many different cultures are becoming extinct and less used. The more advanced a culture gets is only due to globalization. Globalization is only being done by the Americans. Politics interfere with ones country. Someone’s culture is part of their genes. People now get influenced by different cultures by means of television and radio. To know your own culture you have to speak your native tongue. Cultures may alter many things in ones life. Culture may help some people relax and lay back. A language is a key part to a culture. Culture in the global world is one’s identity and shows who you are. Every different race and ethnicity has their own distinctive language to separate themselves from the rest. They do different rituals and traditions to keep there culture alive. Many cultures have mixed together through trade and influence. Slang words have come from two cultures being mixed together. An example would be Spanglish, which mixes Spanish and English together. My thoughts about my own culture changed because I do not want my culture to die out. My relationship with my culture and tongue is very close because I visit El Salvador every year. My relationship with other languages is not close because I do not know any other language. Language identifies whether you are Asian, African, Hispanic, and others. Culture also shows who you are because they have different traditions. I have kept my family traditions and hope my kids will too.

Bishop Mora Salesian High School Los Angeles, CA Nicholas A 06/02/10 Ms. Barranco 4th Period

Languages die after a period of time when people don’t speak that type of language. The older generations don’t pass it down to their younger generations and it slowly stops the language from being taught to the future generation. The older generations won’t always be around so little by little we lose that type of language, because younger generations don’t learn it. If I knew that my language was dying, then I myself would try to save it. It meant a lot to me because it was my native tongue all of my life and I would hate for it to be extinct by the time my grand children are learning a language.

It is important that my language stay because that is what my whole culture and life is made up of. It is the back-bone of my life, my culture. One interesting thing that I have learned from this video is that, native cultures and languages are slowly dying. We must make sure none of the languages face extinction. Another thing I would like to learn from the video, is that is there any culture of languages going on extinction?

“Pardon my French”

Eric Zemmour is considered to be a polarizing figure because of his hard critics of the newspaper, and of the press trying to get information of him. The reason why the rise of English in France is “more acute” is because English is a “ready-to-wear culture”. They would always try to attack the people in the French area, because they were weak and they couldn’t fight back. French were thriving in the wars or when they went into battles. They would show that they were thriving by attack there opponents quickly and they would end up making a mistake some where and end up suffering fro m there mistake.

The “one exception culturelle” was the policy of culturalism. They took there culture very seriously. Without there culture they wouldn’t have any type of structure in there order or anything at all. One fear the “exception culturelle” reflected on was the francophone culture. The reason why some of the people outside of France write in French is because French is now-a-days concentrated outside of France. It has developed so much that states are now using things from the French people. Their use of their language and culture helps them reflect on there identity because it shows them the things they believe in and what they are defending and supporting.

The reason why I think that people create their own languages is so that way they can identify their true selves and see what really lies inside of their hearts. The effects of having shared vocabulary and languages is that people who are trying to create their own languages and cultures they might want to take their own ideas and say that they own this or that, which then leads to conflicts, battles, and wars. Languages reflect on culture by having communicate with other people and tell everyone how there culture is constructed of, it also shapes it by having the identity of the people shape it with rules and their types of orders.

Culture is something that you believe in, or something that you do often, and u know that what you are doing is right. I believe it is static, because any culture can change you so much without you even knowing it. The new technologies affect our culture by making our lives easier for us to do, or making things so harsh for us. My primary language was English, and I have used this language all of my life.

Culture is the belief in something you choose to believe in. It comes from ideas all around the world and that is how it is constructed. It’s not just one person, who makes a culture in one day, but it takes time for a culture to be made, and it is due to the way we would want it be.

The language and culture had formed so many things such as how we talk with one another, or how private schools were made for us. It’s an opportunity to have us protected from the world. My relationship to my culture and language is very strong, but with other languages and cultures it not as strong, it’s very slim. My culture shapes me because it shows the type of class I have for people, and it also shapes people because it shows them and people the class that person has. I have adapted to my language and culture and it has made me become a young, responsible, caring, kind, and gentle man that I am.

What a great article!

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language identity and culture essay questions

  • Jun 6, 2022

Language and Identity: the Construction of the Self

When it comes to language, one of the first words that comes to mind is communication. However, language is also an important part of one's identity and is required for all aspects of interacting with the surrounding world. Identity is what one projects into the world and how one wants to be perceived by others. Moreover, identity formation requires a certain level of awareness as it involves individuals to make a conscious decision that impacts a change in their identity. Family, social interactions with peers, and geographic location are three aspects that show a correlation between language and identity throughout one’s life. This article will discuss this relationship and provide some examples of identity in language use to demonstrate how identity is not static but rather changes over time as a person’s language evolves.

language identity and culture essay questions

Family Influence on Language and Identity

Family plays the most important role in the development of a child’s linguistic skills. These skills are influenced by the positive verbal input children receive from their parents in their home environment. According to psychologist Catherine Snow (1972), the speech children hear spoken around them is their sole source of information about that language (p. 549). As children grow, they learn their mother tongue – their first language – which gives them the ability to communicate with their parents. Given the amount of time children spend interacting with their parents on a regular basis, it is no surprise that, by transmitting speech skills targeted to develop their own form of communication, parents play a critical role in their children's language development. However, developmental psycholinguists have assumed that, in reality, children hear just a random sample of adult utterances, characterized by all the stutters, mistakes, garbles, inconsistencies, and complexities which are common in adults’ speech to other adults (Snow, 1972). In other words, children are largely exposed to various kinds of speech in a home environment. This process makes them perceptive to everything and, by nature, children are encouraged to imitate their parents’ behaviour, particularly in speech. That is the reason why the mother tongue has a significant impact on the personality and psychological development of an individual: it shapes their distinct identity through childhood, when young speakers are most closely connected with their parents.

Mother tongue is also an important part of a child’s culture, identity, and beliefs. According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), “our values, beliefs and identity are embedded within language” (Farhat, 2018). This implies how the importance of culture is in determining how a person is defined. One's values and beliefs have a significant impact on how they think, behave and see the world. Rovira (2008) states "Language is intrinsic to the expression of culture" (p. 66) implying that it is through expressed language that culture and values are transmitted. There is a strong connection between an individual’s mother tongue and their culture, yet if children do not speak their parents' language, it might be difficult to identify with their roots. In order to better understand this concept, an example is provided below.

language identity and culture essay questions

According to a case study done by Thomas and Cao (1999), the Linh Cao family, of Vietnamese and Chinese descent, demonstrates how a three-generation family can invoke identity changes. The Cao family immigrated to the U.S. in 1979 from Vietnam due to political and economic instability. While the grandparents spoke Hainanese (a Chinese dialect) and Vietnamese, the father spoke Hainanese, Mandarin, Vietnamese, and a little English. The mother spoke Vietnamese, Hainanese, and very limited English. With these premises, it is interesting to analyze the impact of such a situation on the children. In fact, the age gaps between the children resulted in considerable differences regarding their language experiences. Linh was born in Vietnam and her first language was Hainanese, which she speaks very little of now. She studied Mandarin when she first started school, but following the Communist takeover in Vietnam 1975, Linh had to learn how to read and write Vietnamese. In fact, the Vietnamese government sought to eliminate any Chinese influence and demanded that all Chinese schools in Vietnam teach Vietnamese. Her sister who is one year younger speaks Vietnamese fairly well and has recently improved her Mandarin and Hainanese, even though she prefers English. Their two younger siblings, on the other hand, were two and three years old when they arrived in the U.S. and are now completely fluent in English, but their Vietnamese vocabulary is severely limited and, particularly when communicating with their parents, their conversation is restricted to a “yes/no” dialogue. On the contrary, the older siblings are able to converse with their mother in Vietnamese with ease, but they occasionally get stuck when they have forgotten a specific word or expression. When this happens, their mom offers to assist them as she understands what they are trying to say. Based on this study, it is evident that when a child shifts to a common language spoken outside the home environment, maintaining communication within an immigrant family becomes challenging if the language of origin is not preserved. As children mature, it is important to observe the dynamics of this transition as speakers clarify their values and gain a sense of coherence in their identities.

Identity Development in Adolescence

As adolescents go through changes in their language development, they become more aware of how others perceive them because acceptance by a peer group becomes extremely important. This awareness often affects the way one uses language, specifically how one modifies speech patterns in order to achieve a particular social standing within their peer group (Durkin & Conti-Ramsden, 2007). As a matter of fact, adolescents are often responsible for linguistic innovations and modifications, some of which are built into the general structure of language over time. This is especially true at the lexical level, since young people are generally creative with language and like to borrow new words from other languages and even from other jargons – a specific type of language used by a particular group or profession.

Slang is another type of informal language typically spoken by adolescents within social groups. For example, young speakers might use the words awesome, sick or wicked to mean “really good.” The use of slang represents how young people express what is going on in society and how they are responding to their surroundings, where informal communication is easier than using formal language . Young people speak differently than adults do. Some modifications that occur in their language, such as alterations in speech or grammar, persist, while others diminish over time. When these changes stay, we notice a shift in language. According to Fuller (2007), the fact that adolescents have a specific language makes it easier for them to connect with other adolescents and helps build self-confidence (p. 106). These young people develop a distinctive way of speaking that effectively communicates who they are and how they respond to the social influences they encounter. This clearly demonstrates how language choice creates a powerful bond between social identification and group unity. It is no wonder that as adolescents struggle to find their way in the adult world, their need to be accepted by their peers, displayed by their use of language, makes it simpler for them to blend in and establish a specific identity.

language identity and culture essay questions

The Influence of Geographic Location on Identity

Numerous studies have found out that geographic location has a significant impact on language variety and dialect emergence. That is, when speakers of the same group are geographically apart, they are more likely to use language differently. According to Abdulfattah and Mansour (2017), all languages have dialectical variations. These dialects can differ in phonology, morphology, spelling, vocabulary, and syntax from the standard language, but with language continually changing, it may not be obvious to an outsider what is considered to be the true language. Abdulfattah and Mansour claim that linguistic diversity is influenced by one’s geographical background (p. 221). For example, geographic location is an essential factor in the variation of dialects spoken throughout England. In the North East region, for instance, English speakers pronounce bus as /bus/, which differs from Received Pronunciation, which is the accent traditionally associated with education and privilege. Abdulfattah and Mansour write "It is also claimed that location has been essential in the emergence of a new variety of English that came to be known as General American English which is different from the UK varieties" (2017, p. 221). When people immigrated from England to America, they brought their language with them. However, as a result of contact, the spoken language began to change in many ways.

Today, there are many different dialects within both British and American English. An expression attributed to Oscar Wilde and George Bernard Shaw is, 'Two nations divided by a common language.' This quote reinforces the idea that barriers of geographic location become linguistic barriers. These barriers can occur between people who speak the same language but are from different regions of the same country. They may have difficulty understanding each other and this can lead to conflict, frustration, offence, and confusion, all of which block effective communication. If one decides to relocate to a city for work purposes where a different dialect is spoken, that person may encounter misunderstandings and misinterpretations with their colleagues, and as a result, a strain in interpersonal relationships might take place. Furthermore, when dialectical and accent differences occur, the use of slang and regional colloquialisms can lead to more misunderstandings and communication gaps, among other issues. Linguistic struggles can alter an individual’s identity entirely, since language barriers can hinder the flux of sharing ideas, thoughts, and feelings. Because of this, successful communication between people should never be taken for granted.

language identity and culture essay questions

Language is the main instrument used for communicating with others, but it is also a fundamental part of our identity and is required for all aspects of environmental interaction. In considering the amount of time that parents spend with their children in forming their communicative style and building their character, family is without doubt the most significant factor in children's language development, which contributes to the shaping of their identities. As children mature into adolescents, their identities shift as they become more aware of how their peers perceive them, impacting their language use in such a way as to represent their social standings. Finally, geographic location produces dialect differentiation, which can lead to language barriers, making communication between people who speak the same language difficult. Based on these three factors, one can conclude that identity is never static and varies throughout time as a person’s language evolves in a determined social context.

Bibliographical References

Abdulfattah, O., & Mansour, A. (2017). Geographic location and linguistic diversity. International Journal of English Linguistics , 7 (4), 220–229. https://doi.org/10.5539/ijel.v7n4p220

Durkin, K., & Conti-Ramsden, G. (2007). Language, Social Behavior, and the Quality of Friendships in Adolescents with and without a History of Specific Language Impairment. Child Development , 78 (5), 1441–1457. http://www.jstor.org/stable/4620714

Farhat, S. (2018). Our values, beliefs and identity are embedded within language . United Nations. https://news.un.org/en/story/2018/02/1003191

Fuller, J. M. (2007). Language choice as a means of shaping identity. Journal of Linguistic Anthropology , 17 (1), 105–129. http://www.jstor.org/stable/43104134

Hobsbawn, E. (1996). Language, culture, and national identity. Social Research , 63 (4), 1065–1080. http://www.jstor.org/stable/40971324

Kallifatides, T. (1993). Language and identity. Harvard Review , 4 , 113–120. http://www.jstor.org/stable/27559761

Romaine, S. (1994). Language in Society: An Introduction to Sociolinguistics (2nd ed.). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

Rovira, Lourdes C. (2008). The relationship between language and identity. The use of the home language as a human right of the immigrant. REMHU - Revista Interdisciplinar da Mobilidade Humana, 16 (31),63-81. ISSN: 1980-8585. https://www.redalyc.org/articulo.oa?id=407042009004

Snow, C. E. (1972). Mothers’ speech to children learning language. Child Development , 43 (2), 549–565. https://doi.org/10.2307/1127555

Thomas, L., & Cao, L. (1999). Language use in family and in society. The English Journal , 89 (1), 107–113. https://doi.org/10.2307/821364

Valentine, G., Sporton, D., & Nielsen, K. B. (2008). Language use on the move: Sites of encounter, identities and belonging. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers , 33 (3), 376–387. http://www.jstor.org/stable/30131224

Visual References

Figure 1: Bolychevsky, I. (2018). Exploring good common principles for a digital identity system [Artwork]. Opendatainstitute. Retrieved from:


Figure 2: Roberts, J. (2019). For babies, the process of learning how to speak is a highly interactive one [Photography]. European Commision. Retrieved from:


Figure 3: Palacios, L. A. (2021). Idioma de Nueva Zelanda [Image]. Growproexperience. Retrieved from: https://growproexperience.com/nueva-zelanda/idioma-de-nueva-zelanda/

Figure 4: Bratcher, E. (2018). How to overcome language barriers when hosting global events [Image]. Associationsnow. Retrieved from:


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Module A – Language, Culture and Identity – One Night the Moon


Resource Description

Module A – Language, Culture and Identity on the related text: One Night the Moon

Section I — Module A: Language, Identity and Culture Key terms/points:

  • Language has the power to both reflect and shape individual and collective identity, how responses to written, spoken, audio and visual texts can shape their self-perception
  • Language can be used to affirm, ignore, reveal, challenge or disrupt prevailing assumptions and beliefs about themselves, individuals and cultural groups
  • Textual forms and conventions are used to communicate information, ideas, values and attitudes which inform and influence perceptions of ourselves and other people and various cultural perspectives
  • Experiment with language and form to compose imaginative texts that explore representations of identity and culture

Theme: Racism and prejudice

Technique: A high angle shot

  • Opening scene, where Albert’s daughter waves to emily, and emily waves back, only to have her mother force her hand down
  • A high angle shot of Albert’s family is used to construct an image of someone insubstantial and inferior in comparison to that of Jim’s family who is an embodiment of superiority as indicated by society
  • Also reveals the vulnerability of Albert’s family and their constant subjection to discrimination
  • Reveals the learned behaviour of indirect forms of intolerance and racial discrimination from adults to children, and the challenging reality of unconscious doings of racism, ultimately addressed through the language form of camera shots
  • Cultural perspectives: Entertains the notions that people of colour face discrimination and shadowed in societies

Technique: Mise-en-scene

  • Mise-en-scene, another technique, utilises figure movement and expression in order to efficiently convey racism and prejudice
  • The physical performances of characters like rose, uses the force of hand on emily to communicate the indifferences of the Indigenous people to their family and the supremacy their family upholds
  • Mise-en-scene functions in order to express rose’ prejudicial thoughts and the influence she has on emily’s cognitive behaviour by denying her the right to do things as simple as wave, as an outcome of hostility towards Indigenous culture
  • Cultural perspectives: Racial prejudice comes from learned behaviour and is not inherent, thus emitting the perspective that mannerisms can be toxic, especially those with negative connotations

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Identity, Language, and Culture Essay

Introduction, identity and diaspora, connection between language, identity and cultural difference, reference list.

Identity is marked out by differences in the surrounding or context within which an individual or thing is found. Differences are what make an individual or a group of people identifiable or definable. The identity of a person and what he uses, his culture and language are closely connected.

Language and culture act as symbols which mark or delineate an individual’s identity characteristics. Difference in identity makes an individual or a group of people see themselves as belonging.

The differences outline the demarcations of in-groups to which individuals belong. The basic differences between in-groups are enshrined in the language and symbolic systems that they use.

Identity definitions make individuals or a group of people to see themselves as being better than others. Hall (1997, p. 8) provides a case of a Serb militia man who claims that Serbs are totally different from Croats even in the cigarettes they smoke. Due to the kind of identity definition they hold, the Croats think themselves to be better than Serbs (Hall, 1997, 8).

The language one speaks is a powerful symbol of identity and through it, others can tell one’s nationality or culture. A person can encourage positive identity practice when he accepts and learns the identity of a particular community.

Inversely, if one rejects or vilifies the cultural identity of others, he or she encourages negative identity practices, which if unchecked are likely to result in full blown conflicts. Through language we are able to present to people who we really are and it’s also a way for others to make their own assumptions of who we are.

We have different languages and this is what marks an individual’s or a group of people’s identity. For example, the common English language the Australians speak is different from the ones Americans speak.

The differences in the English spoken in America and the English spoken in Australia results or is a consequence of difference in accents. Therefore, the difference in accents distinguishes these two groups although they speak the same language; English.

Cultural characteristics are also important symbols, which distinguish an individual or a group of people as belonging to a particular group or culture. Through the differences in cultures we are able to mark one’s identity and know or make assumptions of who they are and from which background they hail.

Identity is relational in the sense that it is distinguished by something it is not or does not have. If a particular culture does not have or do something which another culture has or does, then that is what distinguishes that particular culture, and thus gives it an identity.

Language, identity and cultural differences all have this character. An individual or a group of people may not have something in their language or culture which another individual or group of people have. What one culture lacks that another culture has gives the respective cultures a sense of identity; it distinguishes them from the others.

Language, identity and cultural differences are all marked through symbols. Things an individual or a group of people use are closely related to their identity, these are symbols which identify or define them.

They may be using something which another one doesn’t use or which they think is better than theirs, like in the case of Serbs and Croats it’s the cigarettes which define them. The cigarettes act as the symbols and differentiated or distinguish identities (Hall, 1969, p.10).

Language, identity and culture are connected because it is the differences inherent in language that map a given identity. Language and culture are connected because language often carries symbolic meanings that can only be understood in the context of the given culture.

Both languages and cultures have symbols which also act as identifiers or distinction between individuals or groups of people. Language and Culture like identity are also relational in that they are all distinguished by something they are not.

Different languages, identities and cultures have different things which the other does not have and this is what distinguishes and makes them different.

The differences in culture and language gives respective cultures and languages a sense of identity and this is important because it defines an individual or a group of people. Our identities reflect the common historical experiences and shared cultural values which make us to be a united people with stable reference of meaning.

Identity is important in that it defines who we really are and in the post colonial struggles it played a big role in reshaping our world.

The rediscovery of identity in post colonial societies has been the object of hope which has been helping former colonial subjects and colonizers rehabilitate themselves with regard to self definition and appropriation of how others define themselves (Hall, 1997).

Identity has also played an important role in the development of many important social movements. These include feminist, anti-colonial and anti-racist, environmental activists, lobby groups, human rights activists, among others movements. What brings this people together is a common identity.

They identify themselves because of the different causes they hold dear in society. The difference in cause or concern gives them an identity. Further, these social movements are identifiable with distinctive language use or jargon and their developing of symbols that frame a kind of subculture.

Language being a powerful symbol of identity is a major difference between different cultural groups in Australia. Even among people who speak English, differences in accent and use of cliché words creates further distinctions, subcultures and thus identities.

I have some experience of having lived in a multicultural setting. The setting composed of people of African origin, African Americans and indigenous locals. From observations, I noticed many differences that distinguished each set of individuals or groups.

The Chinese believe that in order to achieve unity they must take pride in their history and culture; they believe that intellectual unity and consolidated power is what brings them social harmony. This is different from Australians who still deconstruct their culture, consolidate power and through government work to implement their agendas.

People of Chinese origin focus more on self development and personal growth than transforming or challenging traditional structures and set ups. This is unlike the attitude of black Americans or English Australians.

Considering countries, china is very distinctive or different from Australia. Australia is identified from Chinese because they don’t take pride in their history and cultures like the Chinese do.

Another way of distinguishing between Australians and Chinese is by language. The Chinese have their languages and even those who have immigrated to Australia still speak and teach their children to speak Chinese.

National identity in Australia was brought about by earlier Australians identifying selves with being able to withstand hardship. This kind of identity has produced a sporting spirit that has continued to grow.

Other historical factors like the gold rush days, Federation, World Wars and others have been significant symbols which have greatly influenced the development of Australia’s national identity.

The Gold Rush had a great impact on the economy of Australia and development of the nation. Diggers in the goldfields developed a strong relationship which has been important to them on how they and others perceive being Australian.

Since then, the diggers’ rebelliousness and disregard for the authority at that time has remained an important topic of discussion in Australia history and identity.

Diverse cultures, people and images in Australia have been a strong symbol of identity. Many important events and people who were involved in these events have helped the Australians shape the view they have of their nations and how others view them as a nation.

Indigenous communities have kept their cultural heritage strong and alive by passing it to every generation. These include their knowledge, art and performances.

By speaking and teaching their language to their children, protecting their culture, sacred and important places and objects, the Australians have been able to maintain and be proud of their identity.

The Aboriginal people in Australia value their land so much. They believe their land is what sustains people. Reciprocally, people and culture in turn are supposed to sustain the land. National parks are of great significance for the Aboriginal people because of the stories associated to them; stories that have been told from one generation to the other.

The diverse cultures and people unite the Australians and this has made them committed to their country. They have a right to express their diverse cultures and beliefs and to participate freely in Australia’s national development.

Everyone in Australia is expected to respect an individual’s worth, dignity and freedom. Every individual has freedom of speech, religion, association and is expected to support and maintain peace. The pride each individual group takes in its cultural heritage has helped keep Australian cultures live.

The cultural identification helps distinguish people and offers them an identity. National initiatives and mechanisms have been put in place to help Australians towards becoming more tolerant towards difference.

Art in Australia has contributed to the shaping and reflecting of the nation’s image. Art scenes have reflected the diverse indigenous cultural traditions and this as a symbol of identity has helped to define the nation. Modern art in Australia is totally different to that of Chinese.

Because of government funding, Australia’s art is more political compared to that of Chinese. This has caused a great divide between the private and the government funded art’s market. This is a mark of identity because identity is relational as it is distinguished by something it is not.

Art in China is distinguished from that of Australia because it’s less political. The difference in art scenes of these two countries also marks identity because identity is marked by differences, and through these differences Australia is able to define itself.

Education in Australia is different from that of China in that in Australia they are more focused on students while in China they are more focused on teachers.

A teacher in Australia will help students find answers to a question by themselves by providing them with the basic knowledge while in China a teacher will easily give answers to students without letting them do something on their own first.

In Australia students interact a lot and more easily than in China. Students in Australia learn by doing things on their own and interacting with their fellow students and they plan their own learning. These differences in education between China and Australia mark identity because identity is all about differences.

Identity is marked through symbols. As a matter of fact, symbols are very important for marking cultural identity and regeneration.

For example, national flag, food recipe and uniform are such symbols that identify individuals or groups. Australia has a national flag in which they take pride and which has become an expression of identity. It is the nation’s chief symbol and Australians respect it and use it with dignity.

Through symbols, individuals define their culture and are able to feel connected with their past. Moreover, symbols also connect the present with the future as they help to store or safeguard a people’s heritage. This is because the symbols have been there from the past and have been passed from one generation to the other.

For example in Australia, the ruling authority wanted to make the Union Jack as the uniting symbol. Many Australians were against this and they tried to create their own symbols in order to challenge the authorities and express their culture.

Many of these were rejected by the government which has in turn has made Australia remain seeking for symbols. Up to now, symbols still define much of political life in Australia and Australians are still trying to find new symbols. This shows how symbols are important in marking an identity of an individual or a nation.

Chinese boast when it comes to hospitality and this is clearly expressed by their way of life. In China they can easily invite a stranger in their homes and share with him their food and make sure he/she is full before leaving. It’s different in Australia because they are kind of wary of strangers than the Chinese people.

Identity is marked through social and material conditions. When it comes to drinking, alcohol is important for both Australians and Chinese. What makes the difference is the way of consumption. The Chinese get drunk very fast and it is acceptable for them to act in an uncontrolled manner while drunk.

For the Chinese drinking is a way of showing respect. On the other hand Australians drink more slowly while having a conversation and they don’t seem to like it when one starts to act in an uncontrolled manner due to drunkenness.

Sex is considered a taboo topic for discussion in China and in order for a woman to be respected and valued in marriage; she has to be a virgin. In Australia sex topics are not considered taboo and they are openly discussed and for a man to marry he doesn’t have to get a virgin woman.

This has caused many women and men to be sexually experienced before getting married. This for most of older Chinese is very immoral. It doesn’t mean that the Chinese are upright in behavior; they also have a number of practices that Australians find immoral.

Men in China find themselves in sexual unfulfilling marriages, this makes it acceptable for them to visit prostitutes or have mistresses. In Australia this is totally unacceptable. Chinese maintain their morality before getting married but after marriage it gets different while Australians maintain their morality in marriage.

Australia is a multicultural nation in which they have many different races, ethnic groups and cultures. In Australia there are the indigenous and non-indigenous people. The indigenous people are claimed to have been marginalized through colonization.

One of the major debates on the significance of belonging and culture is identity. Multiculturalism in Australia is about cultural diversity and has influenced greatly the identity of the nation. It values its racial and ethnic diversity by giving its people freedom to express their cultural values.

Multiculturalism in Australia has worked well because different cultures have been accepted by the people and the peaceful relationship between diverse cultures and individuals has been maintained.

Diversity in Australia has acted as a positive force in bringing the people of together by accepting each others different culture and this has been a very significant identity which the people of Australia take pride in.

Sports, music and art have provided Australia with an identity. It has been recognized worldwide through its achievements in sports.

They have been able to achieve this through a successful multicultural society and their sporting heroes are recognized and valued worldwide giving Australia an identity.

Hall’s explanation of the connection between language, identity and cultural difference has helped in explaining how these three connect. As Hall put it, identity is marked out by differences.

Different people speak different languages and this difference is what makes an individual identify with a particular group of people. There are different cultures and identity which exists between people and they are all marked by differences.

Identity representation has signifying symbols and processes which produce meanings through which we can know who we are and understand our experiences. This symbolic system makes us understand who we are and what we might be in future.

Representations of identity helps an individual see and know themselves. Culture shapes identity by giving meaning to our experiences in that we are able to define ourselves by relating to our cultural experiences.

Diaspora identities are those which are continuing to develop themselves a new through transformation and difference. Thus cultural identities go through constant transformation as it is about what you become and what you are. Cultural identities are the points of identification which are made throughout history of a culture.

In Australia multiculturalism has made it difficult for the government to approve a national cultural symbol because all cultures are equal and the people enjoy freedom of being individuals.

Social and symbolic markings are both important for the defining and maintaining of identities. Symbolic marking is how we look at and understand our social relations and practices while social differentiation is the way people live with these types of differences in their everyday relations.

Identities are formed and maintained because they mater so much and this is why people would always claim their positions and identify with them. Different people, cultures, ethnic groups and even religious groups claim a common culture as their foundation. Identity depends on difference and in social relations symbolic and social differences develop.

Foods people eat tell a lot about who they are and what culture we are in. Foods indicate religious as well as ethnic background and culture of a people, there are foods which are considered as unclean by other cultures or religious groups but are eaten by others.

Through such foods we are able to make an assumption or know which culture or religion one comes from, for example Muslims are identified for their avoidance of pork and this defines their religion.

This marks the identity of such groups who avoid certain foods and the identities of those who are part of a particular belief system and those who are not. The types of food people eat are materialistic because people eat what they are able to afford and what is available in their society.

Identities are made in relation to other identities, what they are not is what defines them and this brings the difference. Chinese art scenes are not as political as those of Australia and this is what marks the difference.

Cultural identities are histories which people share and thus make them one people or one culture. A Diaspora must discover this identity in order for them to express their cultural experiences.

Around the world people define their cultural identity by stereotyping themselves. The stereotypes model the behavior that people want to copy and make people feel that they are part of a community and that they belong to a particular culture.

In Australia, individuals have appreciated the importance of identity and in order to confirm their identity, they have created stereotypes. The Australians take pride in their national unity and people from different cultures are all one and care for one another.

In conclusion, Hall’s argument that Identity is marked by differences is a valid one. Further, the interconnection he relates about language, culture and identity as illustrated in the foregoing paragraphs is a valid one.

Some differences are taken to be more important than others by different ethnic groups or cultures. One group might see themselves superior to the other and what they use as more important and great than the others.

Identity is also marked through social and material conditions. A group may be separated socially and disadvantaged materially if it is it is symbolically marked as an enemy or taboo.

Symbols mark distinctions which are present in social relations. In social relations people use different things and because an individual or group of people may think of theirs as better than others, it brings the distinction.

If a group is socially separated because it is marked as an enemy they will be materially disadvantaged because no one would want to associate with such group which is claimed to be a taboo or enemy.

Social relations may be organized and divided into opposing groups; one group may see themselves as better than the other and consider the other as nothing because of the different social backgrounds and cultures.

Hall, S. (1997). Cultural Identity and Diaspora . London: SAGE Publication

Hall, S. (1969). Commonwealth of Australia . London: Sage Publications

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IvyPanda. (2022, April 13). Identity, Language, and Culture. https://ivypanda.com/essays/identity-and-diaspora-essay/

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IvyPanda . 2022. "Identity, Language, and Culture." April 13, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/identity-and-diaspora-essay/.

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My Cultural Identity

This essay about my culture explores the unique blend of Eastern European heritage and northeastern United States customs that define my cultural identity. It discusses how cuisine serves as a vital cultural expression, blending traditional dishes with local flavors to create a rich tapestry of food that marks both familial and festive gatherings. The essay also touches on the role of language, noting how Polish and Ukrainian phrases permeate family conversations, preserving the linguistic heritage of my ancestors. Additionally, it describes the influence of the local environment on community activities that are deeply intertwined with the changing seasons, reflecting a strong connection to both place and tradition. Finally, the essay highlights core values such as hard work, resilience, and the importance of education, which have been inherited from immigrant ancestors and remain central to my cultural ethos today. Overall, the essay paints a picture of a dynamic cultural identity that merges historical legacies with contemporary life.

How it works

The journey into one’s cultural realm is a labyrinthine expedition, traversing the intricacies of personal and collective identity. It entails an immersion into the labyrinth of traditions, ethos, and societal mores that thread through generations, etching indelible imprints upon the psyche and conduct of individuals within a social milieu. Contemplating the inquiry, “What defines my cultural essence?” compels me to navigate through a mosaic of historical legacies, geographical contexts, and socio-cultural landscapes that delineate my distinct cultural tapestry.

At its nucleus, my cultural ethos embodies an amalgamation of indigenous norms from the northeastern expanse of the United States and the inherited legacies of Eastern European forebears.

This fusion bequeaths a singular modus vivendi that exalts the fortitude of immigrant enclaves juxtaposed against the whirlwind of innovation characterizing contemporary American ethos. The cultural ethos, encapsulated within gastronomic delights, festive revelries, and oral traditions, serves as a testament to the resilience of diasporic narratives amidst the currents of adaptation and assimilation.

The culinary arena emerges as a palpable terrain of cultural expression, where ancestral lore converges with contemporary culinary sensibilities. The hearth becomes a crucible where ancestral legacies intermingle with contemporary innovations, engendering a palimpsest of flavors that narrate tales of diasporic odyssey. Holiday repasts bear witness to this cultural communion, wherein quintessential American fare harmonizes with Eastern European delicacies such as pierogi and borscht, each culinary creation a testament to the odyssey of migration and acculturation.

Language, with its vernacular cadences and idiomatic lexicon, constitutes a linchpin of my cultural identity. While English serves as the lingua franca of quotidian discourse, vestiges of Slavic linguistic heritage punctuate familial colloquy, particularly in matters pertaining to culinary alchemy and familial camaraderie. Though the younger generation may not wield these linguistic nuances fluently, they serve as mnemonic vestiges of ancestral provenance, kindling sentiments of pride and nostalgia amidst familial communion.

Community life serves as a tableau vivant, wherein the seasonal vicissitudes of nature choreograph communal rites and festivities. Residing in locales where seasonal transitions orchestrate the cadence of daily life, communal engagements are inextricably intertwined with the flux of natural cycles: autumnal revelries, winter frolics, vernal rejuvenation, and summertime sojourns to coastal enclaves. Each season bequeaths its pantheon of rituals and festivities, many of which are testament to the adaptive ingenuity of diasporic communities in synchronizing ancestral legacies with local landscapes.

Furthermore, my cultural ethos is imbued with a valorization of toil, tenacity, and the pursuit of knowledge. These cardinal virtues, bequeathed by predecessors who traversed oceans in pursuit of greener pastures, reverberate resoundingly within our family’s ethos, shaping our approach towards life’s vicissitudes and aspirations. Manifesting in a reverence for scholastic pursuits and vocational pursuits, these values mirror the broader American zeitgeist of ambition and individual endeavor.

In summation, my cultural identity emerges as a symphony of epochs, a confluence of bygone legacies and emergent narratives. It is characterized by a variegated epicurean repertoire, a polyglot linguistic mosaic, a tapestry of communal conviviality, and an ethos steeped in ancestral wisdom and aspirational verve. The odyssey of exploring and articulating the intricacies of my cultural ethos not only engenders a profound rapport with ancestral moorings but also fosters a heightened appreciation for the kaleidoscopic diversity enshrined within the tapestry of global cultures.


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Race Is Central to Identity for Black Americans and Affects How They Connect With Each Other

Many learn about ancestors, u.s. black history from family, table of contents.

  • The importance of being Black for connections with other Black people
  • The importance of Blackness for knowing family history and U.S. Black history
  • Younger Black people are less likely to speak to relatives about ancestors
  • Black Americans differ by party on measures of identity and connection
  • The importance of race, ancestry and place to personal identity
  • The importance of gender and sexuality to personal identity
  • Black Americans and connectedness to other Black people
  • Intra-racial connections locally, nationally and globally
  • How Black Americans learn about their family history
  • Most Black adults say their ancestors were enslaved, but some are not sure
  • Most Black adults are at least somewhat informed about U.S. Black history
  • For many Black adults, where they live shapes how they think about themselves
  • Acknowledgments
  • The American Trends Panel survey methodology

A photo of a Black man in a dark blue suit and blue and white checkered button up underneath looking at reflection of himself on a building. (Photo credit: Getty Images)

Pew Research Center conducted this analysis to understand the rich diversity of Black people in the United States and their views of Black identity. This in-depth, robust survey explores differences among Black Americans in views of identity such as between U.S.-born Black people and Black immigrants; Black people living in different regions of the country; and between Black people of different ethnicities, political party affiliations, ages and income levels. The analysis is the latest in the Center’s series of in-depth surveys of public opinion among Black Americans (read the first, “ Faith Among Black Americans ”).

The online survey of 3,912 Black U.S. adults was conducted Oct. 4-17, 2021. The survey includes 1,025 Black adults on Pew Research Center’s American Trends Panel (ATP) and 2,887 Black adults on Ipsos’ KnowledgePanel. Respondents on both panels are recruited through national, random sampling of residential addresses.

Recruiting panelists by phone or mail ensures that nearly all U.S. Black adults have a chance of selection. This gives us confidence that any sample can represent the whole population (see our Methods 101 explainer on random sampling). Here are the questions used for the survey of Black adults , along with its responses and methodology .

The terms “Black Americans” , “Black people” and “Black adults” are used interchangeably throughout this report to refer to U.S. adults who self-identify as Black, either alone or in combination with other races or Hispanic identity.

Throughout this report, “Black, non-Hispanic” respondents are those who identify as single-race Black and say they have no Hispanic background. “Black Hispanic” respondents are those who identify as Black and say they have Hispanic background. We use the terms “Black Hispanic” and “Hispanic Black” interchangeably. “Multiracial” respondents are those who indicate two or more racial backgrounds (one of which is Black) and say they are not Hispanic.

Respondents were asked a question about how important being Black was to how they think about themselves. In this report, we use the terms “being Black” and “Blackness” interchangeably when referencing responses to this question.

In this report, “immigrant” refers to people who were not U.S. citizens at birth – in other words, those born outside the U.S., Puerto Rico or other U.S. territories to parents who were not U.S. citizens. We use the terms “immigrant” and “foreign-born” interchangeably.

Throughout this report, “Democrat and Democratic leaners” refers to respondents who say in they identify politically with the Democratic Party or are independent but lean toward the Democratic Party. “ Republican and Republican leaners” refers to respondents who identify politically with the Republican Party or are independent but lean toward the Republican Party.

To create the upper-, middle- and lower-income tiers, respondents’ 2020 family incomes were adjusted for differences in purchasing power by geographic region and household size. Respondents were then placed into income tiers: “Middle income” is defined as two-thirds to double the median annual income for the entire survey sample. “Lower income” falls below that range, and “upper income” lies above it. For more information about how the income tiers were created, read the methodology .

No matter where they are from, who they are, their economic circumstances or educational backgrounds, significant majorities of Black Americans say being Black is extremely or very important to how they think about themselves, with about three-quarters (76%) overall saying so.   

Pie chart showing most Black adults say being Black is very important to how they see themselves

A significant share of Black Americans also say that when something happens to Black people in their local communities, across the nation or around the globe, it affects what happens in their own lives, highlighting a sense of connectedness. Black Americans say this even as they have diverse experiences and come from an array of backgrounds.

Even so, Black adults who say being Black is important to their sense of self are more likely than other Black adults to feel connected to other groups of Black people. They are also more likely to feel that what happens to Black people inside and outside the United States affects what happens in their own lives. These findings emerge from an extensive new survey of Black U.S. adults conducted by Pew Research Center.

A majority of non-Hispanic Black Americans (78%) say being Black is very or extremely important to how they think about themselves. This racial group is the largest among Black adults , accounting for 87% of the adult population, according to 2019 Census Bureau estimates. But among other Black Americans, roughly six-in-ten multiracial (57%) and Hispanic (58%) Black adults say this.

Black Americans also differ in key ways in their views about the importance of being Black to personal identity. While majorities of all age groups of Black people say being Black shapes how they think about themselves, younger Black Americans are less likely to say this – Black adults ages 50 and older are more likely than Black adults ages 18 to 29 to say that being Black is very or extremely important to how they think of themselves. Specifically, 76% of Black adults ages 30 to 49, 80% of those 50 to 64 and 83% of those 65 and older hold this view, while only 63% of those under 30 do.

Chart showing non-Hispanic Black adults most likely to say being Black is extremely or very important to how they see themselves

Black adults who identify with or lean toward the Democratic Party are more likely than those who identify with or lean toward the Republican Party to say being Black is important to how they see themselves – 86% vs. 58%. And Black women (80%) are more likely than Black men (72%) to say being Black is important to how they see themselves.

Still, some subgroups of Black Americans are about as likely as others to say that being Black is very or extremely important to how they think about themselves. For example, U.S.-born and immigrant Black adults are about as likely to say being Black is important to how they see their identity. However, not all Black Americans feel the same about the importance of being Black to their identity – 14% say it is only somewhat important to how they see themselves while 9% say it has little or no impact on their personal identity, reflecting the diversity of views about identity among Black Americans.

Bar chart showing that about half of Black adults say their fates are strongly linked with other Black people in the U.S.

Beyond the personal importance of Blackness – that is, the importance of being Black to personal identity – many Black Americans feel connected to each other. About five-in-ten (52%) say everything or most things that happen to Black people in the United States affect what happens in their own lives, with another 30% saying some things that happen nationally to Black people have a personal impact. And 43% say all or most things that happen to Black people in their local community affect what happens in their own lives, while another 35% say only some things in their lives are affected by these events. About four-in-ten Black adults in the U.S. (41%) say they feel their fates are strongly linked to Black people around the world, with 36% indicating that some things that happen to Black people around the world affect what happens in their own lives.

The survey also asked respondents how much they have in common with different groups of Black Americans. Some 17% of Black adults say they have everything or most things in common with Black people who are immigrants. But this sense of commonality differs sharply by nativity: 14% of U.S.-born Black adults say they have everything or most things in common with Black immigrants, while 43% of Black immigrants say the same. Conversely, only about one-in-four Black immigrants (26%) say they have everything or most things in common with U.S.-born Black people, a share that rises to 56% among U.S.-born Black people themselves.

About one-third of Black Americans (34%) say they have everything or most things in common with Black people who are poor, though smaller shares say the same about Black people who are wealthy (12%). Relatively few Black Americans (14%) say they have everything or most things in common with Black people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer (LGBTQ). However, a larger share of Black Americans (25%) say they have at least some things in common with Black people who identify as LGBTQ. All these findings highlight the diversity of the U.S. Black population and how much Black people feel connected to each other.

These are among the key findings from a recent Pew Research Center survey of 3,912 Black Americans conducted online Oct. 4-17, 2021. This report is the latest in a series of Pew Research Center studies focused on describing the rich diversity of Black people in the United States.

The nation’s Black population stood at 47 million in 2020 , making up 14% of the U.S. population – up from 13% in 2000. While the vast majority of Black Americans say their racial background is Black alone (88% in 2020), growing numbers are also multiracial or Hispanic. Most were born in the U.S. and trace their roots back several generations in the country, but a growing share are immigrants (12%) or the U.S.-born children of immigrant parents (9%). Geographically, while 56% of Black Americans live in the nation’s South , the national Black population has also dispersed widely across the country.

It is this diversity – among U.S.-born Black people and Black immigrants; between Black people who live in different regions; and across different ethnicities, party affiliations, ages and income levels – that this report explores. The survey also provides a robust opportunity to examine the importance of race to Black Americans’ sense of self and their connections to other Black people.

Bar chart showing Black Americans who say being Black is important to them are more likely to feel connected to other Black people

The importance of being Black to personal identity is a significant factor in how connected Black Americans feel toward each other. Those who say that being Black is a very or extremely important part of their personal identity are more likely than those for whom Blackness is relatively less important to express a sense of common fate with Black people in their local communities (50% vs. 17%), in the United States overall (62% vs. 21%), and even around the world (48% vs. 18%).

They are also more likely to say that they have everything or most things in common with Black people who are poor (37% vs. 23%) and Black immigrants (19% vs. 9%). Even so, fewer than half of Black Americans, no matter how important Blackness is to their personal identity, say they have everything or most things in common with Black people who are poor, immigrants or LGBTQ.

The new survey also explores Black Americans’ knowledge about their family histories and the history of Black people in the United States, with the importance of Blackness linked to greater knowledge. 

Bar chart showing Black adults who say being Black is important to them are more likely to learn about their ancestors from relatives

Nearly six-in-ten Black adults (57%) say their ancestors were enslaved either in the U.S. or another country, with nearly all who say so (52% of the Black adults surveyed) saying it was in the U.S., either in whole or in part. Black adults who say that being Black is a very or extremely important part of how they see themselves (61%) are more likely than those for whom being Black is less important (45%) to say that their ancestors were enslaved. In fact, Black adults for whom Blackness is very or extremely important (31%) are less likely than their counterparts (42%) to say that they are not sure if their ancestors were enslaved at all.

When it comes to learning more about their family histories, Black adults for whom Blackness is very or extremely important (81%) are more likely than those for whom Blackness is less important (59%) to have spoken to their relatives. They are about as likely to have researched their family’s history online (36% and 30%, respectively) and to have used a mail-in DNA service such as AncestryDNA or 23andMe (15% and 16%) to learn more about their ancestry.

The importance of Blackness also figures prominently into how informed Black Americans feel about U.S. Black history. Black adults who say Blackness is a significant part of their personal identity are more likely than those for whom Blackness is less important to say that they feel very or extremely informed about U.S. Black history (57% vs. 29%). Overall, about half of Black Americans say they feel very or extremely informed about the history of Black people in the United States.

Among Black adults who feel at least a little informed about U.S. Black history, the sources of their knowledge also differ by the importance of Blackness to personal identity. Nearly half of Black adults for whom Blackness is very or extremely important (48%) say they learned about Black history from their families and friends, making them more likely to say so than Black adults for whom Blackness is less important (30%). Similarly, those who say being Black is important to their identity are more likely than those who did not say this to have learned about Black history from nearly every source they were asked about, be it media (33% vs. 22%), the internet (30% vs. 18%) or college, if they attended (26% vs. 14%). The only source for which both groups were about equally likely to say they learned about Black history was their K-12 schools (24% and 21%, respectively).

Overall, among Black Americans who feel at least a little informed about U.S. Black history, 43% say they learned about it from their relatives and friends, 30% say they learned about it from the media, 27% from the internet, and 24% from college (if they attended) and 23% from K-12 school.

Black adults under 30 years old differ significantly from older Black adults in their views on the importance of Blackness to their personal identity. However, Black adults also differ by age in how they pursue knowledge of family history, how informed they feel about U.S. Black history, and their sense of connectedness to other Black people.

Chart showing younger Black adults less likely than their elders to feel informed about U.S. Black history

Black adults under 30 (50%) are less likely than those 65 and older (64%) to say their ancestors were enslaved. In fact, 40% of Black adults under 30 say that they are not sure whether their ancestors were enslaved. Black adults in the youngest age group (59%) are less likely than the oldest (87%) to have spoken to their relatives about family history or to have used a mail-in DNA service to learn about their ancestors (11% vs. 21%). They are only slightly less likely to have conducted research on their families online (26% vs. 39%).

Black adults under 30 have the lowest share who say they feel very or extremely informed about the history of Black people in the United States (40%), compared with 60% of Black adults 65 and older and about half each of Black adults 50 to 64 (53%) and 30 to 49 (51%). In fact, Black adults under 30 are more likely than those 50 and older to say they feel a little or not at all informed about Black history. While Black adults are generally most likely to cite family and friends as their source for learning about Black history, the share under 30 (38%) who also cite the internet as a source of information is higher than the shares ages 50 to 64 (22%) and 65 and older (14%) who say this.

These age differences persist in the sense of connectedness that Black Americans have with other Black people. Black adults under 30 are less likely than those 65 and older to say that everything or most things that happen to Black people in the United States will affect their own lives. This youngest group is also less likely than the oldest to have this sense of common fate with Black people in their local community. One exception to this pattern occurs when Black adults were asked how much they had in common with Black people who identify as LGBTQ. Black adults under 30 (21%) were considerably more likely than those 65 and older (10%) to say they have everything or most things in common with Black people who identify as LGBTQ.

Black Democrats and Republicans differ on how important Blackness is to their personal identities. However, there are also partisan gaps when it comes to their connectedness to other Black people. 1

Bar chart showing Black Democrats more likely than Republicans to say what happens to other Black people in the U.S. will affect their own lives

Black Democrats and those who lean to the Democratic Party are more likely than Black Republicans and Republican leaners to say that everything or most things that happen to Black people in the United States (57% vs. 39%) and their local communities (46% vs. 30%) affect what happens in their own lives. However, Black Republicans (24%) are more likely than Black Democrats (14%) to say that they have everything or most things in common with Black people who are LGBTQ. They are also more likely than Black Democrats to say they have everything or most things in common with Black people who are wealthy (25% vs. 11%).

When it comes to knowledge of family and racial histories, Black Democrats and Republicans do not differ. Democrats (59%) are just as likely as Republicans (54%) to know that their ancestors were enslaved. Nearly 80% of Black adults from both partisan coalitions say they have spoken to their relatives about their family history. Similar shares have also researched their family histories online and used mail-in DNA services.

Black Democrats are also not significantly more likely than Black Republicans to say they feel very or extremely informed about U.S. Black history (53% vs. 45%). And among those who feel at least a little informed about U.S. Black history, Democrats and Republicans are about equally likely to say they learned it from family and friends (45% vs. 38%).

Place is a key part of Black Americans’ personal identities

The majority of Black adults who live in the United States were born there, but an increasing portion of the population is comprised of immigrants. Of those immigrants, nearly 90% were born in the Caribbean or Africa . Regardless of their region of birth, 58% of Black adults say the country they were born in is very or extremely important to how they think about themselves. A smaller share say the same about the places where they grew up (46%).

Bar chart showing half of Black adults say where they currently live is an important part of their identity

Black adults also feel strongly about their current communities. About half of Black adults (52%) say that where they currently live is very or extremely important to how they think about themselves. And when it comes to the quality of their neighborhoods, 76% of Black adults rate them as at least good places to live, including 41% who say the quality of their community is very good or excellent.

Still, Black adults say there are concerning issues in the communities they live in. When asked in an open-ended question to list the issue that was most important in their neighborhoods, nearly one-in-five Black adults listed issues related to violence or crime (17%). Smaller shares listed other points of concern such as economic issues like poverty and homelessness (11%), housing (7%), COVID-19 and public health (6%), or infrastructure issues such as the availability of public transportation and the conditions of roads (5%).

While nearly one-in-five Black Americans (17%) say that individual people like themselves should be responsible for solving these problems, they are most likely to say that local community leaders should address these issues (48%). Smaller shares say the U.S. Congress (12%), the U.S. president (8%) or civil rights organizations (2%) bear responsibility.

  • According to the survey, 80% of Black adults say they identify with or lean toward the Democratic Party, 10% say the same of the Republican Party and 10% did not answer the question or indicated that they did not affiliate with either party. Among Black registered voters, the survey finds 85% identify with or lean toward the Democratic Party, 10% identify with or lean toward the Republican Party and 5% did not answer the question or indicated that they did not affiliate with either party. ↩

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    1. Identity, language, cultural difference, interpretation, Hall's theory. of what sort of people reflects the principle means whereby we conduct our identity to delivers culture. social lives' (Kramsch, 1998, p. 3). Language is the Identity is "people's concepts of who they are, inherited genetically, and cannot exist on its own ...

  14. Language and Identity

    Language and Identity. L anguage shapes the way we think about, understand, and communicate who we are individually and as members of the many intersecting groups that define us. This unit will allow students to consider how identity is demarcated and sustained by language and ways of speaking both among members of the same group and between ...

  15. English Standard

    We recognise the Ongoing Custodians of the lands and waterways where we work and live. We pay respect to Elders past and present as ongoing teachers of knowledge, songlines and stories. We strive to ensure every Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander learner in NSW achieves their potential through education.

  16. Do You Speak My Language? Considering the Relationship Between Language

    How integral is language to their sense of individual and group identity and culture? ... reconvene as a class to discuss students' new insights on the big questions about language, culture and globalization. Teachers might be ... students write personal essays about their relationships with language and culture. They might focus on one or ...

  17. Language and Identity: the Construction of the Self

    Mother tongue is also an important part of a child's culture, identity, and beliefs. According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), "our values, beliefs and identity are embedded within language" (Farhat, 2018). This implies how the importance of culture is in determining how a person is defined.

  18. Language, Culture, and Identity Essay (Henry Lawson)

    Studying from past student work is an amazing way to learn and research, however you must always act with academic integrity. This document is the prior work of another student. Thinkswap has partnered with Turnitin to ensure students cannot copy directly from our resources. Understand how to responsibly use this work by visiting 'Using ...

  19. Language, Culture and Identity

    Module A - Language, Culture and Identity on the related text: One Night the Moon. PAPER II. Section I — Module A: Language, Identity and Culture. Key terms/points: Language has the power to both reflect and shape individual and collective identity, how responses to written, spoken, audio and visual texts can shape their self-perception.

  20. Identity, Language, and Culture

    Language and culture act as symbols which mark or delineate an individual's identity characteristics. Difference in identity makes an individual or a group of people see themselves as belonging. The differences outline the demarcations of in-groups to which individuals belong. The basic differences between in-groups are enshrined in the ...

  21. The Ultimate Henry Lawson Cheatsheet

    In this article, we give you the ultimate Henry Lawson cheatsheet. Once you've read it, download your free annotated essay and learn what makes a Band 6 response!

  22. Language And Cultural Identity Essay

    Language And Cultural Identity Essay. Over the last few decades, the relationship between language and cultural identities have become a preferred topic in learning the importance of language in maintaining cultural identity. The question that keeps popping up concerns, the role of language in keeping these social aspects.

  23. My Cultural Identity

    The essay also touches on the role of language, noting how Polish and Ukrainian phrases permeate family conversations, preserving the linguistic heritage of my ancestors. ... Overall, the essay paints a picture of a dynamic cultural identity that merges historical legacies with contemporary life. Category: Culture. Type: Personal Narrative ...

  24. Race Is Central to Identity for Black Americans and Affects How They

    The terms "Black Americans", "Black people" and "Black adults" are used interchangeably throughout this report to refer to U.S. adults who self-identify as Black, either alone or in combination with other races or Hispanic identity.. Throughout this report, "Black, non-Hispanic" respondents are those who identify as single-race Black and say they have no Hispanic background.