Language and Identity

 A theme that has stood out to me throughout this quarter – probably because I am taking an anthropology class about language and identity – is how heavily language can influence identity. There are strong nationalist ideas in Ireland of bringing back the Irish language. For the first part of my paper, I want to discuss this, going back to colonization and the suppression of their language and then discussing Irish people’s feelings about bringing it back and how they feel that can strengthen their Irishness. For the second part, I want to focus on how James Joyce related to language and how he used it to form Stephen Dedalus’s identity. I know that I definitely want to use the passage in Chapter 5 of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, where Stephen is talking to the dean and they get mixed up over “funnel” and “tundish”, causing him to reflect on words and his identity. I know there are other passages that could be mixed in as well, like perhaps his reflections on the preacher’s words in Chapter 3 or maybe even going back to Dubliners with Gabriel’s thoughts about language in “The Dead”.

1 Comment

  1. Hi, Kristen! You replied to my post describing your interest in the topic I chose, and we must think alike because language was my second topic that I kept mulling over! Anyway, I think this is such a fascinating choice, especially with all of the historical context you plan to implement. You could also review the linguistic perceptions regarding language, speech patterns, word choices (especially for the scene between Stephen and the dean), concentrating on how speech defines identity (this would also connect well to the creation of Irish identity and the push for its own language). As in the scene you might use, language is extremely revealing; it can reveal our origins, our educational backgrounds, and class, and so much more. And what perhaps makes it so interesting is the outward, public performance it makes of our identities, for it is very difficult to hide how we speak. Trust me, I know…I have a southern accent that thickens and thins, but will certainly never go away–haha. Like you said on my post, I would love to hear about your findings and brainstorm some more! Good luck on everything 🙂

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