There are approximately 6,900+ languages in the world and you can just imagine how many rules and different contexts each one of them has. My first language is Russian, and yes, that is the one that most of the Mafia and criminal men speak, in Hollywood movies. There are many ways that my language and the way I speak influenced my identity.
Sometimes I change the way I speak without fully realising it and it all depends on who I am around and what is happening around me. For example, when I speak to my brother I can swear, during my speech, in English as much as I want to and it is accepted and very normal to us, but if I accidentally say a swear word in Russian I immediately apologise to him. It is because some Russian swear words sound so much more harsh and rude rather than English swear words. I feel like English swearing has become very widespread around the world and everyone is starting to use them more and more, in jokes and social media. In a country like America, it also has the law that every citizen has the “freedom of speech” and some of those citizens, I think argue a lot with people who think swearing is rude, that swearing is normal, making it more and more common every time. I change the formality of my speech a lot when I am around my grandparents rather than when I am around my parents. When I am speaking to my grandparents I tend to use a more soft voice and my lexicon changes although with my parents I am still polite but not as far as with my grandparents. I think this is because my grandparents are older and it is automatic for me to be more aware of my speech when I am around them. Sometimes my grandparents do not know how to do something on an iPhone or a computer and ask me to help them. When I help them they ask a lot of questions and I get really frustrated explaining it because for me it is very simple, but even though I am frustrated I never show it because I do not think it is polite. Whereas if I was frustrated with my parents then my phonology would probably become slightly ruder although it is not polite and I try to not do it.
The Kazakh language is language is very similar to Turkish or Arabic. A lot of the vocabulary was influenced by the dominant religion in Kazakhstan which happens to be Islam. I speak fluent Russian and English, but not Kazakh. I know some bits and pieces of Kazakh but not well enough to discuss a topic. Sometimes this makes me feel a bit ashamed that I do not know my native language very well because I feel like it is something that is important in shaping a person. Russian is the main language in Kazakhstan for a lot of its citizens and I feel proud that I speak Russian and that it is my first language because it made me who I am today. By speaking Russian it made me connected to a lot of people around the world when I moved from Kazakhstan to Dubai. When I would hear someone speak Russian around the mall or on the streets I would feel excited and happy because it sounded like home.
In Kazakhstan, the dominant language is Russian although the native language is Kazakh. If people go to the store or somewhere and the cashier or worker answers in Kazakh and not Russian then people automatically think that they are less than and come from villages and farms. Kazakhstan’s own native language has covert-prestige whereas Russian has overt-prestige. Before the Soviet Union happened, in Kazakhstan, Russian did not exist. Everybody spoke only Kazakh and when Russian was brought into it it was more popular to speak Russian. Speaking Russian made you seem more educated and of a higher class, until it became the first language for almost all of the population. A lot of Kazakhs do not even know how to speak Kazakh anymore because over the years we lost our native language. Only older people and people who live a bit farther from the city in rural areas and maybe on farms still speak it and prefer it over Russian. Today people are realising that it is embarrassing that we do not know our language and that is why people are slowly starting to learn it more. Now if somebody asks you if you know Kazakh and you say no they would act disappointed and you would be considered as careless of the country and non-patriotic. The president is also taking action in order to help the situation. Official documents, letter, and etc. used to all be written in Russian until the president changed it to be in Kazakh, several years back. It helps the country since now people are in a way forced to write or read Kazakh if they have anything to do with the government and politics.
There are a lot of stereotypes regarding the Russian language. First, the one that is connected to Kazakh people is that when we speak Russian, most international people straight away think “You are Russian”, although we do not look Russian. Other stereotypes include the fact that people think that Russian speakers or people with a Russian accent are rude and ignorant people who do not care about anything but themselves and vodka. They could also be generalised as self-centered and very arrogant. People also could perceive the Russian accent as sexy or intriguing because Russian women are known to have very beautiful bodies and have well structured facial features. Some Russian women could also be known for weightlifting and being very muscular which is why some people perceive the Russian accent to being strong and harsh. I think that the language is considered to be of high social status when somebody hears a Russian speaker because sometimes people connect Russia to Europe and all European accents are considered overt prestige compared to other accents around the world. Whereas sometimes when people hear English being spoken with a Russian accent then it could be considered of low social status because they seem less educated since they do not know English that well, especially if that is heard in an environment that is not very diverse and international. Inside of Russia, there are also cities that could have a very strong Russian accent with a slightly different lexicon, that could lead others to think that these people are from the village and live very poorly on farms. An example of how they might sound different is that sometimes people from very rural areas in Russia might roll their R’s differently. Instead of saying “город” (gorod), they would say “горход” (goghod). People with this type of accent could be looked down at in Russia.
Different types of Englishes are considered to either have overt-prestige or cover-prestige. The most common difference in English is between the dialects of American English speakers and British English speakers since their grammar, pronunciation, and lexicon differentiate. Some examples could include that Americans say, french fries, whereas British people say, chips. Another example is that in American English you would spell center, whereas in British English you would spell centre. I think that British English is considered more overt prestige due to the location of England which is in Europe and a lot of the European languages are known to have overt prestige compared to other languages. In England and America, I think that Singlish is considered to be covertly-prestigious because it comes with an Asian accent as well as additional words that are not English. In America, black American is considered to have covert prestige due to the history of black slavery in America.
A lot of things over the many years have changed the English language as it appears to us today. Historically there are a lot of factors that influenced the English language, like the Anglo-Saxons and invasions of Vikings and Normans that caused different languages to enter into England like French and Latin. Art, poetry, and writing gave the English language many words as well. Shakespeare played a very big role in inventing a lot of words. Religion also influenced the language because words that were said in the Bible or words said by the Church would be implemented into English as well. Another factor that changed English would be science because scientists would discover many new things about the world and the human body that would then be named. When English people would set off to discover new land they would not only make colonies and introduce the English language into that country but they would also take some local words into the English language from some countries. Every time that the British would make colonies they would leave the English language there. It would then turn into a different type of English due to the countries local culture and language that would influence the way they spoke English. Technology also played a very big role because once computers and phones were invented, new words were created. English in text would change too and new slang like “ttyl” instead of “talk to you later” or “wuu2” instead of “what are you up to” were made. Everyday social media introduces new slang and new words that are then adapted by the young generation and over the years implemented into the English language. Migration and Tourism affects a lot of the language because they introduce English to many different countries that then add their own “spice” to English. Sometimes countries merge their languages and English becomes Singlish (Singaporean English), Hinglish (Indian English), or Chinglish (Chinese English).