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Discussion Details

Title: Cultural Identity and Language
Submitter: Stan Anonby
Description: I've been following the scuttlebut about English only and the translation
of the "Star Spangled Banner". I'm here in the States teaching in a summer
session in North Dakota, and the subject of identity and language has come up.

I'd like to throw out an observation made by a student from California. Her
comment was that the Hispanics in Fresno are divided into three groups:

The first group is formed by people directly from Mexico. They speak
English poorly, but "are the most American". She said you can tell who they
are because they all have American flags hanging from their windows.

The second group is formed by their children. They're just living life, are
bilingual, and don't think or talk about who they are much.

The third group is the third generation. These people don't speak Spanish,
only English. However, they're the ones who are most vocal about language
rights and being Mexican. They are the ones who hang Mexican flags in their
windows, and say, "Viva la raza!"

Another student commented on a similar situation in southern Manitoba. She
said her grandmother's generation lives the Mennonite lifestyle, speaks
Plautdeutch, but seldom talk about their identity.

She said people in their 20's were much more proud and vocal about being
Mennonite. Yet they do not speak Plautdeutch.

I myself am not American or Mennonite, so I can't vouch for any of this.

It does ring more or less true to me, though. I've seen similar phenomena
among Indigenous peoples in Brazil and Canada.

I'm not sure if this tendency is the norm, the exception, or even accurate.
Any comments?

Stan Anonby
Date Posted: 12-Jul-2006
Linguistic Field(s): Sociolinguistics
Anthropological Linguistics
LL Issue: 17.2042
Posted: 12-Jul-2006

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