Tuesday, July 03, 2018

Nationality and Language

Like most countries, most modern languages were standardised and formalised very recently. Yet nationality and language are such a big part of our identity. My fiancée is English. I am English. But I mean something different. In Britain, saying you are English speaking doesn't mean a lot. Almost everyone speaks English. In South Africa, your language is part of your identity. Zulu, Xhosa, Afrikaans, English, Northern Sotho, Tswana, Sotho, Tsonga, Swazi, Venda, and Ndebele are all official languages. These distinctions (language and country) are often described as something permanent. Something we are. That is laughable when they were made up in the last two hundred years. Your country is not something you are. Your language is not something you are. They are both stories you learned. Learning never ends.

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