Role of Language in Cultural and Ethnic Diversity
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Language is an important social and cultural marker of identity. Language is intrinsic to the expression of culture (racismnoway, 2015). Language is one way of communicating values, beliefs and customs, it has an important social function and fosters feelings of group identity and solidarity. It is the means by which culture and its traditions and shared values may be conveyed and preserved (racismnoway, 2015).
My family is from Louisiana, which is considered the South. When you are from Louisiana one may say you are from down south. When I was younger terms such as cuz or blood where acceptable. These terms were used frequently our loud in public places. For instance, it was common to hear, “Hey cuz how are you?” Or, one may say “Hey cuz, what’s going on with you?” When you referred to someone as cuz, it meant this person was a family member. Cuz meant cousin. Also, it was acceptable to referred to someone as blood. A phrase like “That’s my blood!” was very common as blood simply meant that person is a part of my family. We are related by blood is what it really meant.
Currently in the times we are living within utilizing the terms “cuz” or “blood” can become a deadly situation. These terms are associated with gangs not just in Los Angeles but all over the US. It’s amazing how these terms where freely used as terms of endearment to identify a family member. Now in todays society these terms can be deadly. These terms in certain areas have turned from endearing to negative. These terms are still used in Louisiana as terms of endearments, but the terms are utilized among individuals that are familiar with each other.
According to Koppelman, in this week’s reading I learned that labels create opportunity for misunderstandings, stereotypes and biases. Koppelman states, terms reflecting a sense of contempt or ridicule based on factors such as race, class, disability, sexual orientation and gender suggest the extent to which prejudices exist.
In closing as stated by Koppleman, language is a primary tool for understanding. The way we speak about others affects the nature of our interaction, and the type of relation we have with other individuals shapes our choice of language when referring to these individuals. Language reflects and affects intergroup dynamics. Language has an important social function and fosters feelings of group identity and solidarity.