Language & National Identity

Thematic Introduction

‡ Language acts as a marker (index) of individual and group identity. evens out socio-economic inequities present in a society. ‡ Spread of a common language can assist in the construction of a geographically widespread community of speakers and building of nation-like polities. ‡ Language functions as an important boundary device. encourages the unification of a population through the provision of equal opportunities for advancement and future prosperity.‡ Language (a broadly shared language). . possibly unintelligible language habits. is a primary component in the successful molding of a population as a nation. common language: 1. and binding the former together with shared feelings of identity and group self-interest. providing linguistic links are also reinforced with other shared cultural properties. ‡ A standardized. 2. separating distinct sub-populations off from neighboring others with different.

Poland. iii) Eastern European nations (e. Hungary. e) has a distinct subjective awareness that they comprise such an entity. citizenship. Nations arose as the result of processes of: i) Industrialization. b) currently manifests a shared culture.Origin & Development of Nations: ‡ Nation is described as being a people which: a) is comprised of a single ethnic group with a common ancestry & shared history. centralized bureaucracy. Modern examples of Nations include: i) Consolidation of Germany and Italy in the 19th century. (d) is organized by a uniform. c) is contained within clear territorial borders. modern societies caused the development of nations with a number of core. ii) Internal reorganization of England. and Holland as industrialized nations. and the Czech and Slovak republics). co-operative function of populations in industrial. & a single language. and equal rights in the determination of the future. d) benefit from democracy. and iii) Spread of democracy. common properties. ii) Modernization. ‡ ‡ ‡ .g. including (a single) religion. The successful. France.

2. They are called Official / Territorial Nations . . if it has won territorial independence. ‡ a shared history. 1. ‡ An ethnic nation may also be the official nation. Nations have an (ethnically population with: ‡ a common culture. homogeneous) ‡ These are called Ethnic Nations .‡ In Short: ‡ Nation is usually used to refer to at least two potentially different types of entity. Nation also means all politically independent states. ‡ a single language.

rather than stemming from the more gradual transformation of genuinely ethnic nations into independent states. ‡ It resulted in an extensive mixture of ethno-linguistic groups within a single state ‡ E.g. Nationalist movements in such cases therefore resulted in the fairly rapid conversion of ethnically shared spaces into modern official nations. and Korea (prior to its occupation by Japan).the withdrawal of an occupying power which had itself determined the borders of the state and the make-up of its population. ‡ E. China. ‡ They believed that modernization was the key to strengthen and protect their territories.‡ ‡ The creation of modern nations in Asia has followed two rather different paths of development: 1. ‡ As a result. those who campaigned for self-determination and independence from foreign rule for the most part accepted the shape of the states they came to possess on departure of the preceding colonial rulers. Siam (Thailand). ‡ Rather than attempting to radically adjust and reconstruct the territorial divisions set up by colonial occupation. and often inherited states which were already structured by modern bureaucracies and a centralized administration.. Indonesia & Philippines on the one extreme and India & Pakistan on the other. ‡ A dominant (single). Independent states were formed from composite populations not as a preventative measure toward outside threats but instead as the result of the colonial process . ‡ Nationalism served as a useful means to help achieve this modernization. projects of nation-building were initiated after independence. Nationalism was a reaction to perceived external threats. and specifically the advancement of Western colonial powers into Asia. ‡ Internal reorganization of the state was followed by a centralization of authority &the simultaneous promotion of national culture & language. ethnic group already existed in the states.g. . Japan. 2.

and protection has therefore been the most important planning tool at governmental level in such states. Such nation-building projects are still ongoing processes. language has regularly been assumed to have a highly significant role to play. in all domains of life. the view came to be adopted by many in positions of power. A common language may serve to unite its population in a shared national identity. and taken charge of modern. that the success of their emerging nations would be well served by the promotion of national language and a single official lingua franca that could be used throughout the state. Task of trying to stimulate a sense of cohesion. encouraging feelings of belonging and loyalty towards a coinhabited territory has subsequently required much attention to the development of national identity in emerging states and the encouragement of a consciousness among citizens of collectively forming a single population with their own national properties and a single shared future to invest in. and the characterization states in search of nations has been used often. Having finally won independence. The selection and sponsoring of national languages and the effects of such policies on other languages spoken within a single state has therefore had a widespread prominence. the pressing need for attempts to build together the new citizens of these states into integrated nations became extremely obvious and a primary focus of leaders concerned about the potential fragmentation of ethnically mixed territories. and eventual independence rather than nation-building itself. In the attempted construction and maintenance of national identities. growth. . its possible definition. but the occurrence of multiple languages within a single state has often been perceived as standing in the way of unity and the development of a desired national consciousness. Consequently. The theme of national identity. increased governmental representation.‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ Prior to achieving independence the principal energies of indigenous nationalists had been directed towards the goals of achieving democracy. creation. bureaucratically organized states.

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