The Relationship Between Identity And Language

Native language is often taken for granted as something that people use intuitively. However, the native language has a critical role in building one’s identity (Norton, 2019). Therefore, the not only are identity and language directly connected, but the relationships between the two are based on the cause-and-effect principle. Since a language represents the core tool for communicating ideas and beliefs, it should be seen as central in shaping one’s identity, namely, one’s perceptions, values, and philosophies.

Before determining the connection between one’s language and identity, one should define the concept of identity itself. The notion of an identity is understandably broad, yet it is typically interpreted as a set of characteristics, perceptions, and values in an individual that mark them as unique while also representing their belonging to a specific group (Norton, 2019). Therefore, it would be reasonable to establish a connection between a personal identity and a language spoken within the community to which an individual belongs (Norton, 2019). Moreover, in the specified case, the language shapes one’s identity as the tool that allows one to express oneself and obtain crucial information, therefore, building knowledge and sharing it with others. Thus, the connection between language and identity becomes apparent. Specifically, a language represents one of the components of one’s identity.

Furthermore, cultural learning as a core factor in determining one’s identity can be seen as one of the crucial elements of one’s identity. Therefore, since language facilitates and shapes the process of cultural learning, it can be considered a vital part of building one’s identity. Specifically, language should be seen as a product of a particular culture and serving to represent how people belonging to it view the world and define specific phenomena, objects, and concepts, as well as express the relationship between them (Yazan et al., 2019). Thus, the language can be considered a vital tool for shaping cultural learning and expressing the results of it (Yazan et al., 2019). Thus, the cause-and-effect link between language and cultural learning is obvious and doubtless.

Furthermore, language defines the limitations of one’s cultural perspective, which, in turn, contributes to the development of a unique cultural identity. For instance, the fact that some notions are not named and, therefore, not identified in certain languages compared to others entails a certain difference in identity of their respective owners. Though the specified differences might be minute, such as the absence of a name for a specific color in a certain language, they still point to a different perception of reality and its elements, ultimately leading to misunderstandings when having to communicate with members of other cultures (Hoque et al., 2018). Therefore, the limitations of a language, including the absence of specific words in the vocabulary or the presence of a unique grammatical structure, can be considered a sign of the link between the two. Namely, these differences can be viewed both a factor in shaping one’s identity and a reflection of certain aspect of the national identity, in general.

Being the key tool for communicating essential ideas and interpretation of reality, language must be considered a crucial factor in shaping an individual’s identity. Therefore, the relationship between the language and identity can be viewed as those of cause-and-effect. Namely, the native language contributes to one’s understanding of the world as a specific culture sees it, therefore, building the foundation for one’s cultural identity. Finally, a language serves as a tool for personal expression, which also shapes one’s identity by offering opportunities and setting limitations. Therefore, a language and an identity are closely correlated and bound by a cause-and-effect relationship.


Hoque, M. A., Behak, F. P., Baharun, H., & Molla, R. I. (2018). The nature and extent of English lexical borrowings into Bangla: An investigation into selected modern Bengali novels and short stories. International Journal of English Language & Translation Studies, 6(4), 121-131.

Norton, B. (2019). Identity and language learning: A 2019 retrospective account. Canadian Modern Language Review, 75(4), 299-307.

Yazan, B., Rudolph, N., & Selvi, A. F. (2019). Borderland negotiations of identity in language education: Introducing the special issue. International Multilingual Research Journal, 13(3), 133-136.