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EUST2010 Essay - EUST2010 European Identity ap of the...

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Map of the regional languages spoken in France EUST2010 European Identity How do the regional languages affect the French national identity? Cliff Ng Chun Keung 2008206894 1979 Words Introduction Languages in Europe have passed a long history of development and different branches are formed. In France, although the majority of people speak French, numerous regional languages still exist nowadays, affecting the French national identity in a certain extent. The French Republic government states that one state should only have one language, but the existence of regional languages still have their own values. Some political parties advocate the ban of regional languages since the languages act as an obstacle for establishing a harmony and efficient community while others oppose it because the regional languages are a part of France and they are the components of modern French national identity. 1
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EUST2010 European Identity This paper is going to discuss the concept of nation and national identity in France. The second issue is to compare national identity to ethnic identity and discuss the relationship between language and these identities. The third issue is to introduce the regional languages in France and how they affect the French national identity. Concept of Nation, Ethnic Identity and National Identity in France Nation is a French word which comes from the Latin natus which means ‘born’. Anthony D. Smith (1991:14) defines nation as ‘a named human population sharing a historic territory, common myths and historical memories, a mass, public culture, a common economy and common legal rights and duties for all members’. National identity refers to all members who share the same sense of belonging in that nation. In France, many regional dialect speakers have a historic territory, common myths and historical memories, or even a common territory, but they are still treated as French. Ethnic group is similar to nation, but it needs not occupy a territory. Compared to nation, it has a higher level of shared cultural norms and it always has a shared language (Judge 7). Therefore, though the concept of nation and national identity are clearly defined, those who fulfill the definition still belong to another nation rather than their own group of people. For example, the Basque people speak Basque but they do not have a nation called ‘Basque’. Relationship between Language, Ethnic Identity and National Identity A large group of people who speak the same language usually form an ethnic group, like Basque or even a nation, like Germany. It is true that there are other factors assembling different ethnic groups together to form a nation, but language does play a critical role as language is a tool for communication. Without language, people will not communicate with each others, nor form a nation or ethnic group. So language is closely related to ethnic identity and national identity.
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