TED Conversations

Ayesha Sayed

Student, UAEU


This conversation is closed.

As a trilingual or bilingual, what role does language play in the creation of your identity? Which language do you think in?

I've grown up speaking 3 very diverse languages, I feel that they've created three distinct worlds in me. I find myself moving in and out of not only languages but cultures as well.
What role do languages play in your life? Do you find yourself thinking in more than one language?


Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • thumb
    Jan 9 2012: I'm trilingual and I find it pretty fascinating, and 'annoying' too. My skills in my primary language, Arabic. are deteriorating day by day as I speak other languages more frequently. It also takes me a long time to translate words and expressions from one language to another (because I can't remember some things). The majority of the world now speaks English. This is a good thing since it unifies us but as we do that we lose our cultural identities.
    • Jan 9 2012: we lose our cultural ..............arabic is agreat language its the language of quran of allah words and people who enter paradise will talk arabic isa
      • Comment deleted

        • thumb
          Jan 10 2012: This response is perhaps the most compelling evidence of the cause for language creating identity . . . most enlightening. When one believes that a creator God will only speak to a person in only one single specifc human-created language, then that language not only defines one's culture but one's specific "place" in the whole of existence.

          If I have misunderstood, please forgive me.
      • thumb
        Jan 11 2012: Yes, Arabic is awesome. There are some problems with it though, mainly concerned with today's technology and globalization. Website URLs are in English only, so are programming languages and stuff like that. So, the majority learns English, which is on the verge of being a universal language. English just makes it easier to communicate. It is way easier to learn than Arabic (you know what I mean... the grammar etc.)
        • Jan 12 2012: yes ia gree with you english is the most popular languageand very important nowadays but i mean as u said we shouldnt losse our culture
      • thumb
        Jan 11 2012: @Verble Gherulous

        Muslims are required to recite passages from the Quran in Arabic while praying, but that doesn't necessarily mean they need to learn the language. But they are highly encouraged to learn it to better understand the holy book. They can obviously 'wish' for anything in their mother tongue.

        I once tried reading a translated version of the Quran (just out of curiosity) and when I did, there was less meaning and 'effect'. I don't know how to explain it. The Quran is absolutely magical in its original form. Every word in it "fits" in, and if removed, the meaning is lost. Thankfully, it has not been edited at all throughout history.

        I definitely agree with your response though! Such a spectacular point of view. :-)
        • thumb
          Jan 28 2012: Omar, my apologies for not replying until now, I had not looked at this discussion in awhile. Thank you so much for your explanation of the linguistic aspect, that is very helpful. It is a poetic description you hace given, and makes me see the Quran almost like a computer code, in which every word, or symbol, (andthe meaning converted within) connects to the greater idea through context.
      • Jan 23 2012: Hi Kareem,

        I understand what you mean. I'm a muslim too. Assigning greatness to one's mother tongue might distance us from others. Arabic is a system of symbols, like other languages, primarily employed to convey meaningful messages. The fact that Quran is in Arabic should not blind us from the fact the multiplicity of languages is a sign of a Great Creator not a great language. Language is out there to connect people not disconnect them.

        Thank you.
        • W T 100+

          • 0
          Feb 3 2012: "Language is out there to connect people not disconnect them."

          Beautiful thought, thank you.
    • thumb
      Jan 9 2012: I can identify with the deterioration, here @ UAEU we are encouraged to 'revive' the Arabic language but I find that amusing as most of the Arabic taught in schools isn't very enlightening. I enjoy English more than Arabic because I feel it gives me more freedom to express myself!
      Thank you for your reply.
    • Jan 23 2012: I'm in a similar situation here - grew up Romanian/ German bilingual, living in Romania but attending a German school from Kindergarten through College, watching German television, working during college for a German company - and on the same time learned English as a second language, as pretty much everyone else was influenced by the Anglo-Saxon culture and way-of-life. Although, I'm grateful for being thought at a German school, and influenced by their culture, and later by the Amercian one, I have to agree with you that my Romanian has become worse over time. I can tell you, this is not something I'm proud about!

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.