A Discussion on Identity and English as a Global Language

Posted by Cheryl Lingjuan Yan (Post #2)

The word “Multilingualism” refers to the use of two or more languages, either by an individual speaker or by a community of speakers (Tucker, 1999). When I first came to Canada, I found people here in Montreal to be amazing. Most people are at least bilingual and almost everyone can speak three or four languages. People all come from different background, or, to be more specific, have different identities, for instance, Canadian, French, half-Spanish, full-Korean, etc. The reason why Montrealers can speak so many languages derives from the city’s history, and it also may partially be because of its colonial culture. Quebec was founded and colonized by French settlers for a long time. Therefore, French culture has a strong influence on Quebec. In addition, Canada is one of the members of the British Commonwealth. Perhaps these are the reasons people in Montreal are at least bilingual in English and French.

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Both Particle and Wave: A Discussion on Identity

By: Dean Garlick

During our class on gender and identity, Alison mentioned the fact that when writing about identity we need to establish which frame of reference we are working from. Are we looking at identity as fixed in the structuralist sense, or as fluid and contextual in the post-structuralist sense? This is very good advice for maintaining a clear frame for discussing the topic, yet in thinking about the complexity of identity, it seems to me that in the same way physicists see light as both particle and wave, we may need to see identity as simultaneously fixed and fluid.

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You Speak Mandarin, You Are Not a Shanxier


Before you read my post, I would like to offer some background knowledge.

  1. Standard Mandarin is the official language in China. While Chinese people use simplified characters in writing, they may speak a variety of dialects depending on where they are. These dialects are spoken in different ways. I found a video that presents how Mandarin and some dialects are spoken and sound differently. Please check it out via https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ynbRQeeEma4
  1. In China, 4 or 5 undergraduate students share one dormitory together, which indicates they do not have their private room.

Every time I encounter a Shanxier outside Shanxi province, they do not believe I am a Shanxier because of my inability to speak Shanxi dialect. While “a single linguistic choice can mark you as a member of (or let you affiliate with) a particular community” (Van Herk, 2012, p. 97), I therefore believe that I lose some of my identity as a Shanxier and I sometimes feel isolated because I fail to speak Shanxi dialect.

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