Language is the base of identity


Identity has become a major question for human beings in the twenty-first century. The desire to search for an identity has created phenomena that we term as an identity crisis.

The rise of an extremist group like ISIS is the result of the existing identity crisis. The previous century was the time of nations and nation states. The wars were fought on national boundaries and as a result many boundaries were redefined.

After nationality, religion became another point to identify oneself. ISIS is based on that. It successfully managed to bring youth from across the world in the name of religion.

However, it has been proved with the time that language is one of the main yardsticks for the identification of a human and a society. The biggest example of it is Bangladesh.

India was divided on the grounds that two different religious beliefs cannot survive. Bangladesh was part of Pakistan. They had the same religion but their language was drastically different and it meant their culture was different, which led to bad communication between both parts and as a result another partition.

Language is something that either becomes a barrier or breaks a barrier. When a person goes in a different country, he tries to find people who can understand his language because without that, it is hard to even let people know what he wants.

India is a nation of diversity. It has a number of different languages and everyone identifies themselves with their language. Every language represents its culture. Kolkata is much more Bengali than the word ‘Calcutta.’

There are a lot of parameters on which people identify themselves but none is same as language. It works at a subconscious level. A person is much more comfortable and natural at expressing himself in his own language. Even the great works of literature lose their bit of greatness during the process of translation.

After gaining independence, many states in India were divided on the basis of language, like Kerala and Tamil Nadu. This is another example that language is the base of identity.

However, the use of language for identity can also be manipulated. Britain did that for their colonial benefits. They created a perception that only English is the language of intellect and civilization and that speaking local languages itself takes a person’s standards down.

This triggered an inferiority complex and it was a factor in the identity crisis. Indians for a long time had this identity crisis where they tried to copy the imperialists to be one of them without realizing that there was never a need to do so.

Time has come that the people proudly identify themselves with their language and culture because it is what their existence depends on.

  • Rakesh Manchanda

    Good political arguements by the writer.

    Language whose fundamental purpose and need to clearity of sharing of work and ideas for survival.

  • devika todi

    well articulated.