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What does your language say about you and your culture?

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Points I gathered:

Even though we use the same language, culture changes the language. Culture can be considered a speech community. Something that stands out is how race applies in this. The white kid who spoke Singlish may consider himself to be part of the Singaporean culture, but his race makes his appearance very weird. Weird enough to be filmed on a video. The language we speak in defines our culture and who we are. Specific language or dialect will give a sense of identity and belonging to a speech group and gain covert prestige.

Code switching tells a lot about how comfortable someone is within the speech group. If the members of the group speaks similarly, it may be a representation that they have been together for long, thereby giving a sense of unity. When code switching, Obama is saying, “I’m a part of your culture because I understand and speak your speech.” As I said before, ethnicity and race plays a big part too. If someone like Mitt Romney tries code switching to another speech group, it appears out of place.

For smaller culture or social groups, the speech will divert more from the normal standard language. This is because it gives a stronger sense of unity. Speaking in jargon that confuses outsiders is similar to an inside joke. It shows the close bond and the time the group has spent together. It is also a good way to identify members of the group quickly as all you have to do is listen to them speak.

My culture speaks in a completely different language. It is hard to compare two different languages, but the attitude I have when speaking Chinese in my ethnic culture group is different than when I speak in English. In Chinese, my speech is more relaxed and free (probably because I speak Chinese at home) while when speaking English my attitude is more direct. Therefore, my language tells my attitude and identity as well as what culture I am a part of.

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One Comment

  1. Firstly, I think it’s great that you analysed and referred back to specific videos and articles, something that I completely forgot to do. However, you raise a lot of valid points that I hadn’t thought of myself. People who belong to the same culture can be considered part of a speech community, as they share the same frame of reference. I also like seeing the parallels between my own and your language, as you said that when speaking chinese, your speech is more free and relaxed, and while speaking english you use more proper language. I think the opposite can be said for me, as I feel much more relaxed and natural speaking english, but when I speak chinese I am very conscious of the vocabulary and grammar i use.

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