Your language is part of who you are

I hope that one day people will treat the language someone speaks like they do characteristics like eye colour or height. The more I learn  about languages the more I realise that language is fundamentally human. The language someone speaks natively says something about who they  are. Language is brought to a place by those who speak it. You only speak the language you speak because someone brought the language to  your area and those around you spoke it while you were growing up.

Because language is such an ever present part of our lives, things can get very messy. People look down on those who speak certain languages  because of associations they have with the group that speaks that language. The only way around this is to make people aware of what is  actually happening out in the world and to correct any misinformation or lack of knowledge people have. I can’t fix what people don’t know about history or politics or mathematics. But I can teach people about language.

One thing I know for sure. You should never be ashamed of the language you speak. Your language is the result of centuries and centuries of  evolution and change performed by ordinary people. Your language is an organism. It is like the fauna and flora of the world. It developed naturally. It is something to be proud of. Your language is part of who you are.

Each language carries in it the thoughts, feelings, hopes and dreams of its people. Each time we lose a language, we lose an expression of what it means to be human. I always liked language before, but I see even more clearly now how marvellous and special language is.

Language is an inextricable part of culture. People know the language they know because of the culture they live in. A part of the reason languages die is because they stop being spoken by native speakers and thus don’t get passed on to future generations. Because language is a part of culture, cultural forces affect languages. If a culture decides that their language is no longer worth learning, it will probably disappear.

Maybe in a small way I can change that just by saying: Your language matters. Never be ashamed of your language. Your language is beautiful, messy, chaotic and wonderful. It is part of who you are and it is worth preserving.

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