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Linguistic processes, identity and globalisation


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Grbić, Jadranka. (2004). Linguistic processes, identity and globalisation. Narodna umjetnost: hrvatski časopis za etnologiju i folkloristiku, 41(2). pp. 235-253. ISSN 0547-2504

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This article deals with the linguistic situation in the contemporary world. It analyses that situation in correlation to ethnocultural identification processes. The starting-point of the article is the fact that, from the era of Romanticism, when national languages were inaugurated as markers of national/State affiliation, the process began of the destruction of numerous (so-called small) languages, which became irrelevant and out-of-date in that sense. That process was intensified during the 20th century, more particularly during its closing decades, when the process of neo-liberal globalisation made English the global world language, while, parallely, world language diversification was being drastically threatened. On the basis of contemporary ethnology-like and anthropology-like theories of identity, this paper examines the hypothesis on the relativity of the role of cultural repertoire content in identification processes, and the transposition of the importance of language as an ethnocultural marker to certain other elements of culture. In other words, globalisation opposes localisation, which contributes to the viability of local languages and disrupts the global trend of the new world linguistic order (with the dominance of English). So, why do languages manage to survive? By way of adequate institutionalised assistance, primarily State/national policies and their implementation in practice for the correct treatment of thousands of endangered, so-called small languages, as well as the support of non-governmental organisations and the like, and this paper offers an answer to that question on the basis of research into the speech experience of people: because languages are part of cultural and ethnonational identity, while identities are deeply entrenched in the awareness of their speakers. Local languages often serve as markers of "authenticity", while they do not only represent the essence of Humanity's global history but also the existence, in general, of a particular community. Linguistic pluralism, in a situation in which each language is designated by its own societal function, could well be part of the future of the human species. In that sense, it is also reasonable to believe in the survival of identity diversity. In other words, local identities could survive, too, since language is only one of the dimensions of identity and, since, in accordance with contemporary ethnology-like and anthropology-like theories, change of one element in the cultural repertoire of a community does not necessarily alter its "original" identity. Apart from that, linguistic adaptation springs from the process of localisation, and a group searching for identity can, once again, orient itself to its culture, that is, back to itself. Finally, it is concluded in this paper that the mother tongue that a group has replaced by some other language can continue to exist as a factor of identity, admittedly not on the communicational but on the manifestation level. And, in accordance with modern theories on social development, a sense of community can also continue to be conceived with the help of the lost language. A consequence of all this will be that identities will be transformed and redefined through processes of localisation, and shifts and transpositions of identity factors

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: language, identity, globalisation
Subjects: Ethnology and cultural anthropology
Departments: Department of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology
Date Deposited: 01 Sep 2016 10:11
Last Modified: 01 Sep 2016 10:11

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