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Language, power, and identity

Language of instruction: English

About the theme: What is the difference between a language and a dialect, and who decides? Should every nation have its own unique language? What are minority language “rights”? Why are some languages linked to certain religions? Why do certain forms of language play a central role in the ways we think about ourselves and identify others? Language is an essential part of our identity, and connects us with other members of various groups in society: ethnic, national, religious, gender, class, etc. Language is not homogenous: “It's not always what you say, but how you say it.”

This theme examines the complex relationship between speech and society, taking language as the point of departure. Through the use of sociolinguistic methodologies and concepts, students will explore the linkages between language, dialects, identity and society, with special reference to religion, ethnicity, and nationalism.

Lecturer: Dr. Marijn van Putten studied linguistics at Leiden, and specialised in Berber linguistics. He is interested in the linguistics history of Berber, and the historical linguistic contact between Arabic and Berber.

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