Language, Culture & Identity
Because a language develops according to the particular needs of the people who live in a certain location at a certain period of time, who share a way of life and culture, it is clear that language is strongly intertwined with culture and identity. A certain richness of communication and connection is lost when a person is unable to speak the language of his or her ancestors. On the other hand, knowing the language of one’s ancestors provides a sense of grounding and belonging.
As shown in several of the video clips on this site, Arctic indigenous peoples make a strong connection between the preservation of their language and the preservation of their culture and people. The articles in this section provide excellent insight into the linkage between language, culture and identity.
Expert paper for the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, May 2008, presented by Lars-Anders Baer, in collaboration with Robert Dunbar, Tove Skutnabb-Kangas & Ole-Henrik Magga. The paper argues that education forms which discourage indigenous students from using their languages lead to identity loss and could be termed "crimes against humanity".
Expert paper for the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, May 2005, by Ole Henrik Magga, Ida Nicolaisen, Mililani Trask, Tove Skutnabb-Kangas and Robert Dunbar. This report shows that educational models for indigenous and minority children which use mainly dominant languages as languages of instruction can and do have extremely negative consequences for the achievement of goals deduced from central human rights instruments and thus for the right to education.
Language planning research and practice have largely ignored, or considered problematic, the diversity within endangered languages. Such a stance, though, conflicts with speakers’ attitudes and desires, which often place high value on specific dialects. As grassroots, bottom-up approaches move to the forefront, so do concerns about the maintenance of distinct dialects of endangered languages.
This paper describes the cultural and linguistic heritage of the Iñupiat and the Yupiks of Northern and Western Alaska, then outlines the threats to culture and language caused by contact with other cultures and later the education policies of government.
One day in the mid 1960's while still in college, I received the biggest shock of my life when I realized that I did not know the literature, history, art, and some of the traditional customs of my own people, the Iñupiat of the North Slope Alaska.
The Implications of Modernity for Language Retention and Related Identity Issues: Applying the Thought of Charles Taylor -- Vivian Elias
How do the forces of modernity act on us? What is the lure of the modern identity? and how does it affect language retention in Indigenous cultures? In an interdisciplinary paper with a philosophical approach, and using Charles Taylor’s conceptual scheme, this paper seeks to develop a descriptive analysis of the answers to these questions.