Rashid Alali English comp 11/13/2008 Identity and Language “ Belong” means far more than fitting into a crowd. Belonging is the feeling that a person feels when they realize that they have made the right fit. This can apply to any circumstance whether it be a class or specific situation. The need to feel comfortable is innate. A person cannot simply shake it off and proceed and it is something that is connected to our identity. Identity is not simply a name and a social security number. Rather, our identity encompasses ethnicity, capabilities and attainments. As a result, there seems to be a paradox in the relationship between maintaining one’s identity and still belonging. (Public and Private Language 1982).
The relationship between identity and belonging is beautifully explained by Rodriguez in “ Public and Private Language. As a bilingual person, he explains the difference between the private and the public spheres focusing on the role of language to produce an identity, which promotes public access to schooling, jobs and society. However, he underscores the importance of having a private individuality, which is designated by the use of native language at home. Since private language is something that his whole family understands and a way by which the entire family communicates, it becomes the family identity.
Being able to speak a public language enables the person to communicate his thoughts to another person. It gives the person the power to express himself more effectively and interact with the whole society. It is imperative therefore, to not insulate oneself in that single familial language. As Rodriguez noted, the lack of the capability to express one-self and to assert one’s thought in the public language makes a person shy, silent and scared to be laugh at or be considered as a fool. It therefore takes away some access to public societies such as making friends, engaging in civic groups. Rodriguez further emphasized that the private language used at home is designed to express personal thoughts and opinion while the public language is a way to make other people know how you understand things. In school or the university, the public language serves as a standard to which discussions and information are conveyed. It makes a child ‘ socially disadvantage’, as illustrated by Rodriguez, if he cannot communicate his thoughts well in school.
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Rodriguez, R. Public and Private Language. (1982).