Expressing unique identities through language

How our linguistic identity shapes who we are

Language is a doorway into the soul, which is why understanding its importance is crucial to solidifying our identity. It allows our inner thoughts to be brought to light. Without language, we would struggle to express our identities or connect with others.

Our linguistic identity shapes who we are. Similar to our racial or cultural identity, our linguistic identity is how we define or portray ourselves through language. Language plays a significant role in how we see both ourselves and the world around us, according to Stanford News. It is what allows researchers to better understand what it means to be human. 

In my life, I have found language to be intriguing. Each language has different dialects and inflections, which distinguishes communities and promotes individuality. Hearing my grandparents speak their native tongue evokes a wave of familiarity, but also a sense of pride in being able to connect with them on a personal level. The way each language bears accents or slangs is similar to the way each culture beholds different fashion or traditions. It bonds people and gives them a sense of belonging.

POWER OF LANGUAGE: Our identities are heavily influenced by our languages. (Photo by Medical Humanities Sheffield)

When people are disconnected from their linguistic identity, I have often noticed an abuse of language. Things such as slurs or other degrading terms are uttered, which diminishes the honor of a language. Language is like a river that has flowed through generations, and we have the privilege to let it cycle through us. When someone does not realize how the language they speak ties them to their culture and heritage, they abuse its intended purpose. Their use of language is no longer used to shed light on significant topics, but used to degrade. 

Therefore, because language is such a crucial part of our self expression, we should take time to contemplate our connection to it. The way we talk, our styles of writing and our logical reasoning are all building blocks of our linguistic identity. One question I ask myself is, “How did language contribute to making me the person I am today?” 

Cultivating an appreciation for language strengthens our self worth and leads to self discovery. When we discover how language connects us to others, we see our place in the world. Language paves the way for not only individuality, but also unity. Through establishing linguistic identity, we embark on a journey toward self acceptance.