Language and Identity

Padilla, Christopher
As globalization develops, demographics evolve, and the linguistic blueprint of many countries morphs, the complexity of both language and individual identity becomes more acute. Yet, despite such fluidity, language and identity remain inextricably connected. The following thesis seeks to examine this relationship by analyzing select areas of overlap. First, the topics of language and identity will be operationally defined through the lens of psychology and linguistics. The larger question—how language is used as an expression of individual identity—will then be explored in relation to the topics of code-switching, dialect, and how self-perceived language proficiency is used to affirm or deny cultural affiliation. What then follows are points of contention. That is, neither languages nor identities enjoy similar social prestige; on the contrary, both are unmistakably influenced by social constructs such as power. Because all individuals attach significance to aspects of their identity and language, the topic of this thesis is one of general interest. Beyond that, its implications are of notable importance in the study of bilingualism and the maintenance of language and identity across generations.
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