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The Role of Language in the Argument that 'Race' is Socially Constructed - Essay Example

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THE ROLE OF LANGUAGE IN THE ARGUMENT THAT ‘RACE’ IS SOCIALLY CONSTRUCTED Instructor Institution Date The Role of Language in the Argument that ‘Race’ is Socially Constructed Race refers to the classification of people on the basis of the differences and the similarities in the biological traits, and the genetically transmitted physical attributes that they share…
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The Role of Language in the Argument that Race is Socially Constructed
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Download file to see previous pages A racial group considers itself a distinct unit. Race forms a fundamental aspect of people’s world view. Language on the other hand refers to the human capacity to acquire and use complex systems of communication. This communication is done through the use arbitrary signals that include written symbols, voice sounds, and gestures. Race is often said to be a social construct. Language plays a big role into this argument. This is because race can be seen as a social phenomenon in which the various social systems serve as the connections between people. While people are different in terms of their physical appearance and genetic attributes, the differences between people indicate social implications. Race can therefore be a cultural unit that shares a common history, culture and a common language. This is how language then comes to be used to classify race as a social construct. Language can be said to have a setting. This means that the people who speak a given language belong to a given race and culture as it is not possible for a language to exist without a culture. The social construction of race means that race is based on the basis of human interaction as opposed to being considered under the aspects of natural differentiation. Race is a social construction because being social beings, human beings interact on its basis and as a result of the interaction, the abstract significance of race is constructed. A person therefore has the ability to construct his racial identity in many aspects of his social and professional life. Race as a social construct is volitional. Language is a social practice that shapes the interactions between the different people in the society. People may identify with others as a result of a subjective belief in the sharing of a common descent. Belief is central to the formation of racial groups. Racial identity therefore becomes negotiable where an individual declares his racial identity and goes ahead to demonstrate the accepted racial markers of the specific race. These racial markers include language. The individual therefore uses the language that is the accepted marker of the given race to express their racial self. Language can therefore be learned so as to achieve racial authenticity. The link between race and language is also enhanced when the racial groups under consideration are polarized. Initially, language and race were seen to have a direct correlation (Baugh 1999, p 7). The changes in language have however taken place rapidly when compared to the stability of the racial groupings. Speech communities of the predominant languages such as English have now become multiracial. Language is integral to human life and it determines one’s identity. This identity includes the racial identity. The theory of linguistic races was developed by Renan (Harris & Rampton 2003, p45). He asserted that the biological definitions of race were inaccurate as there are no ‘pure’ races. Race indeed is used to refer to either a physical race or a cultural race. Language is therefore fundamental to race as it plays a dominant part in the formation of a particular culture. Race can therefore be determined by the presence of a separate language. As a social construction, it can be said that a people’s spirit and the people’s language are closely interconnected. The people create the language which is then used to define them as a separate social ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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