bY Binyam HAILEMESKEL Kidane, February 12th 2021.
Language is one root to Identity. In it, we make our “who-ness”. But, in which ways do our languages meet our identity?
A sever limit in our language skills, means we do not understand ourselves enough, or at least as much as we otherwise would. Shakespeare knew most vocabularies in English. Insights and expressions of himself, ideas or discovery of the existence, was just a lot finer for him then; and he ended up as icon of the whole-time literature.
On the other extreme imagine, animals that would not know language as we know it. They cannot do any civilization while that starts becoming a reality for man right after mastering a decent language. Simply, with wider language powers, wider understanding can be built. Deep insights, broken-down thoughts, calculation, kept histories and legacies, thorough understandings, and specifications of ideas and modernizations, etc., are articulated, passed and shared through the tool of language.
Certainly, language makes direct relationships with thoughts and expressions. Knowing and discoveries are too compromised without a good language. Then, identity is shaped through the language as it is the medium to think, express, and receive communications of any sort.
Another way to connect them is through culture, which makes color of human’s life. And culture can be real mainly through language, and also strictly within the language. አቦ! (Aabbo) and Ce la vie, are for instance more of clear identity-marking cultures and perspectives than mere languages they might appear to be.
Music, and other arts go on the solemn bridge of language. They make the mind wander, reveal inspirations, perform, in return be moved and get inspired towards some ways. Language boasts the lion’s share right after the creativity in that process.
Politics, social life, congregations, and any form of human connections and attempts also depend on this language. The culture we make through this connections are determined by the quality of the language we are able to hire.
In all of the cases, if so, language plays a direct role in understanding and making ourselves. Hence, it constitutes the ultimate identity we make of ourselves. Who we are, is certainly partly the language that we use. No wonder George Orwell’s theory of language, in 1984 was full of this understanding behind it.
So finally, how can we best make use of it and develop nourishing identity for Ethiopia?
In country, language is widely understood as maker of basic identity. No doubt. But, that is not developed in the proper ways we saw it. Foul politics has invented new meanings to “language means identity”. And it means factionalism. Also has a tone of anti-unity standings, and nearly blind obedience to archaic identity understanding.
How, can Ethiopians make language help them understand themselves and others better than that? How can it walk past the simple representation of the fact that citizens racially belong to or speaks of an ethnic-race’s mother tongue?
First, language has to be seen as an identity in the real logic it is, which is with respect to the mind and soul or the human race as a being than identity in terms of an ethnic group. This means, once one speaks of Oromiffa, Amharic, or Silte, it is immediately known that she is in that group. In a proper terminology, it is not a prove of identity, but belonging to the race. That shall be underscored and let identity be not derogated.
Second, one can speak his language as she whims. The fact that it is allowed to do so, by no important means qualifies as substantive language-is-respected-as-identity reality. It is a contentious, and formal or procedural respect to language as identity rule that we need follow than mere allowing to speak it. This allows people require their government enrich their languages more than simply speaking it, which is a default norm and human right, and not an identity enhancement through language.
Third, helping these flawed understandings of language as archaic identity therefore helps us see the untaken root so that we use it. And finally we will ask, what is language’s meaning that makes our proper identity then?
It is its vastness, quality, its empowering nature, richness, its support for man’s evolution, science enhancements, power of expression, and so on, that gives language its power to directly relate with identity-making and truth.
Beyond racial/racist federalism politics, and its, among other failures, it is this misunderstanding and mismanagement of language as identity that Ethiopia need to surmount to equip itself with the true quality of language and identity.
Culture, art, folklore, daily and public communications, common parlance, and simply every form of linguistic efforts need to be taken solemnly and be made move to quality. Beyond allowing it be a medium as modus operandi, beefing its power of contents and scientifically evolving it into research, modernity and technology medium and sophistications so that deep expressions and discoveries are allowed, is the right of every modern age human. Mother tongues can harness the unlimited force of possibilities and allow descent chances to citizens in building realistic and empowering understandings and bodies of identity. In developing and hiring, the finest quality of language, we will be able to master fairer understandings and build quality identities to ourselves. So let us, beyond recognition of languages, making the best out of it, right into what makes us – ourselves.