Discuss The Importance Of Language In The Development Of The Nation State And / Or Cultural Identity

3439 words - 14 pages

Discuss the importance of language in the development of the nation state and / or cultural identity.There are various different ways in which people interact with one another, communication being the most common, and language being the most common form of communication. We use it to convey our emotions, thoughts and feelings, and to express ourselves. Language is an absolutely integral part of the survival of the human race, and a key aspect of various cultures. Whatever is considered meaningful to a group of individuals - from their daily routine to less regular traditions and rituals - constitutes a culture, and is obeyed and treated with respect by all members. Language is merely one ...view middle of the document...

Between 1520 and 1540, three times more books were published in German than during the previous twenty years, due, largely, to Martin Luther and his infamous thesis. In fact, Luther's work accounted for roughly a third of all German works sold between 1518 and 1525. It is safe to say that Luther was, essentially, the first author who was able to sell new books purely on the basis of his name. Events such as these are what laid the foundations for national consciousness, first by creating means of communication in a language other than Latin, and secondly by providing reading material, rather than simply spoken word.The transition from Latin to colloquial languages established geographic limits providing a sense of shared space among people. Gradually, readers would become aware of the thousands of other readers within their language boundaries, and that they were all unified by this. Print languages also helped stabilise and solidify a language, as it was now no longer 'subject to the individualising ... habits of monastic scribes'. Languages began to be catalogued, standardised through dictionaries. In this way, we can see the influence of language on the development of the state. Language connects people with one another; even if they have no common interests, are of different generations, and of a different social status, language unites people, who together form a nation. There are a few exceptions to this; for example, Spain and Latin America both speak Spanish, yet they are of different nations, with very different cultural practices and behaviours. Also, many countries in Africa speak multiple languages, as many tribes or groups have their own ethnic language. Many of these tribes also speak whatever language was left to them by a previous colonial ruler, such as French in the Congo from the time of Belgian rule. In this case, language would not be a unifying contribution to the idea of the nation state, as the nation is divided by many different languages. French is not the mother tongue, and is spoken for convenience more than anything else. Thus we see that language is not always of significant importance to the development of the nation state.Language also plays a key role in the development of cultural identity. The term 'culture' is an expression, rather than a simple definition, linking us to places and people. It is the patterns of behaviour and thinking that people living in various social groups learn, create, and share. This generally refers to sets of traditions or rituals practiced by a group of individuals, which may involve anything from song and dance, to various props, such as articles of clothing. Culture is shared via communication, which is where language steps in; a country's language is a significant part of its culture. We can understand what is and isn't important to a specific culture by what is and is not present in its language. The words in this language are concepts that reflect the culture from which it is...

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