It is predicted among 6,000 languages, more than 3000 of them will disappear by the end of this century, more than half of the world’s will be gone. The issue of risk of losing languages is explored in the the new PBS documentary“Language Matters”. I really learned a lot about what kind of role languages plays in the culture and how it will common-language” shaped our sense of our culture and identity. This paper will further discuss the link between language, culture and culture identity and how we may be able to preserve the culture.
In the first part of the documentary, Bob Holman travelled to Australia to see how the language is disappearing there and how some people are making an effort to save it. According to the documentary, “Language is how a particular culture of people interact with the world and with each of other. If you lose language, you lose a huge chunk of that culture.” Each language is shining a little torch somewhere. These are the treasures of the the human kind. There is a link between language and cultural identity. Language is an important symbol of cultural identity. In his book Language and Culture, Kramsch talks about there is a natural link between language used by a member of a social group and the cultural identity of the group. Both verbal and non-verbal language can indicate the speaker’s place in the social fabric of a given culture, through which the speaker identifies his or her own cultural identity. Through different accents, vocabulary, grammar and verbal patterns, the speaker himself or herself is recognized as a member of one or the other speech community. Language can become an important symbol of cultural identity for the following reasons: First, Language is the most prevalent and obvious feature of the life style of a social group, which can provide universally accepted and unique identification by choosing a certain language or language variant.Secondly, language is an important link between cultural groups in the past and history , The bond still functions even if it loses its ability to use that language, and many Italians, for example, now American or Australian, still regard Italian as their national identity despite their limited knowledge of Italian . Third, members gain spiritual strength, pride, and a sense of social belonging and a sense of continuity through the use of the same language as the other members of their cultural group. Based on the above points, when members of a cultural group feel threatened with their cultural identity, they will spare no efforts in using and maintaining their own language, even sacrificing their lives. In 1915, Edmond Laforest, a prominent Haitian writer, committed suicide on a bridge because he could not use Haitian Creole, which he recognized as cultural identity, but could only use the language of the colonial occupier, French, The sense of betrayal of cultural identities and ancestral cultural traditions led him to fight against with it in death, while also profoundly reveal the importance of language to individual cultural identities. As indicated in the interview, Language is a passport, this is who I am, you can’t fake it.
The individual’s national identity is not something one born with, but learned from various life and learning experience . From spiritual aspect like literature, history and culture, music and art, media programs and social forms, to material aspect, food, clothing, housing, and transportation, all contributed to the awakening of individual national consciousness and the continuing influence on their acquisition and awareness of national identity. In the course of acquisition of national identity, how the language characterizes the conceptual entities in the collective identity determines the ways in which information is input. Individuals acquire their own national identity in the content and information input. From the social theory point of view, all knowledge is based on linguistic and linguistic representations or, more generally, symbolic systems (Fox 2001). For a specific language culture, language is its core value, in the sense that language can be used to construct national identity (Schiffm 1996; 11)
While nowadays, because of losing tongues, we are becoming less diversified and much narrowed in a way that we may never notice. When the language is disappearing, the inner life of a people is disappearing. But language is the carrier of information, whether it is about history, medicine, literature or philosophy. If a language disappear, the connection with the place will be lost, the unique way of thinking pattern will be lost, and past thousands of years will be lost. Nowadays, since increasingly interconnected through technology, the economy around the globe as well as the dominance of a few languages, People always tries to speak the bully language such as English, people do this because they all want to assimilate into the same culture. While it is also amazing how vulnerable language could survive. In Australia, there is a Goulburn Islands, which has 400 people, but the people there can speak 10 different languages. It is extraordinary how vulnerable languages could survive in the extreme situation with people’s effort. Some languages has some 70 speakers or 500 speakers in Australia, the number of people mastering them are quite stable. For many people, mono-language is hard, but people there can do it easily, they naturally learn a lot of languages. It is not special or abnormal for the people to learn more than 1 language. In the interview, when they are asked to use colors to illustrate the language they use in daily life, the lady use five colors which means that she could speak 5 languages. She learn it from different people, her mother, her grandma and her husband. The lady also say that she will teach her granddaughter of a very rare language. For them, to learn the language of another people is a sign of respect. You speak another language to show the respect to the other community. Thus, this is a way to save a language, by showing respects other people’s culture.
Such method has been viewed in Wales. In an annual Welsh language festival to, Holman looked at the small part of the United Kingdom making an effort to create equal footing for its native language with English, both in schools, bars, and hip-hop. In the documentary, a young people uses the Welsh to rap. Once the children has the opportunity to learn it, there is a chance of the language survive. In Wales, the children could choose to go the English speaking school or to a Welsh speaking school. And in this way, children can learn in the language that they are speaking at home.
After human beings enter into the era of globalization, the homogeneity of culture in the same global village should not and can not weaken people’s nationalization consciousness. On the contrary, this era further highlights the nationality and nationality of the country. The uniqueness of this identity is directly or indirectly shown through the language and culture. Therefore, the traditional romantic nationalism in the nation-state era will continue to influence the construction of group identity. Under this premise, the common language plays an important role in the construction of national identity. Language is the most important manifestation of national consciousness, and the distinction tool between “we “And” them ” (Schwartz 1995; Bulck & PoPoecke 1996). In a group of people of different nationalities, language is the most direct and important mark to distinguish their nationality. Individual accents, language tags such as vocabulary usage, code conversion, code mixing, etc. are identity tags. Studies of sociolinguistics since the 1970s have shown that we use language or accent to express ourselves, the choice of language and the language itself is a part of individual or group identity. Language and the use of language shows who we are and, we partly define reality through language and language behavior(Woadak 2012). language is not just a form of communication. We tend to view it as simple method to communicate. But language is about how we think. It is a kind of legacy that has been handed down for generations. It is acceptable If you try to think in another way, in another language, but it is not acceptable to lose your language totally. It is a kind of betrayal. That’s losing who you are. And when we lose who we are, that’s when we become this homogenized consumer of life, rather than a citizen who comes from a place and knows who you are.