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Nationalism and Language
Nationalism and language

When we meet strangers, among the first clues that we pick up as to their backgrounds are linguistic ones. Language (the actual code spoken, and the manner in which it is articulated) tells us a great deal about other human characteristics. We frequently use it as a short-cut that allows us – fairly or unfairly – to pigeon-hole people whom we have just met, to place them in a category that makes sense to us. In many contexts, it is language that is used to tell friend from foe, to distinguish between members of in- and out-groups. This tendency can be traced back to biblical times, when we find an instance where a particular word, ‘shibboleth’ (probably meaning a stream), ...

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