Living in Tag-lish: Locating Identity in Language
Many circumstances oblige people to move from their native country to a foreign one. Some people tend to bury their habits and accommodate a new way of life while others hold on to what they were raised to such as food, traditions, religion and most importantly, their language. Language has been considered as one of the most commonly used determinants of one’s identity. If someone speaks in Cantonese, people would assume the person is Chinese. In my case, I was raised with a language called Tag-lish, which is a blend of Tagalog and English. So would I be considered a Filipino or American? And if I am one of either, what does that tell me about myself? In the political blog, “Why Should Married Women Change Their Last Names? Let Men Change Theirs”, writer Jill Filipovic, discussed the role of names and labels on the development of one’s self identity. Filipovic suggested, although language through names and labels may define who you are, it does not determine your capabilities or what you can and will become. Given the diverse norms and stereotypes of groups in society, language describes how we label ourselves, but identity is how society views us.
Language is indeed an important component of culture, and culture is known to be a crucial definer of identity. People use language to connect to their identities and communicating realities and values to themselves and to the world around them. Language is important because people use it to express their thoughts and beliefs. “People evolve a language in order to describe and thus control their circumstances” (Baldwin 109). Consequently, language does not necessarily define identity as much as identity defines language. People decide ...
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...toward my capabilities, role in society and self-identity. Similarly, according to an academic journal, Identity Through a Language Lens, “Language serves as underpinning, emblematic marker of self-identity… However, one’s self concept toward language impacts how society views us.” (Ciepiela, 13) In other words, language is only a medium of naming or labelling something or someone, but not necessarily defining who they are and who they will be.
Overall, language through names and labels serve as determinants of self-identity. Languages are developed within common groups of people to unite and to create strength through communication, but they are not meant to define us. Who we are and who we will be does not depend on what language we speak but on how we use language in making decisions. Language describes how we label ourselves but identity is how society views us.
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