If borders are rarely defined by language.

Mar 2012
510
Why is it that it is so commonly assumed that language=country.

i.e. people from France speak french, people from england speak english, people from italy speak italian.

Obviously I'm not assuming people are not so stupid that they think americans speak american etc. Nor do I downplay the fact that humans think in symbolic terms.

But as a canadian it seems interesting that so many countries lack a linguistic identity yet it's hard for people to appreciate that americans and canadians are both the same but different.

The same way hispanic nations, arab nations etc all lack a directly linguistic identity.
 
Aug 2012
1,733
Colorado
Why is it that it is so commonly assumed that language=country.

i.e. people from France speak french, people from england speak english, people from italy speak italian.

Obviously I'm not assuming people are not so stupid that they think americans speak american etc. Nor do I downplay the fact that humans think in symbolic terms.

But as a canadian it seems interesting that so many countries lack a linguistic identity yet it's hard for people to appreciate that americans and canadians are both the same but different.

The same way hispanic nations, arab nations etc all lack a directly linguistic identity.
Because most states have a language associated with it. Countries like Canada are a big exception, and even still Quebecois identity is centered around the French language and they are often considered a nation without a state. As for the Canada and America comparison, I am not sure what you are getting at. Language aside, Canada never really developed a distinct identity, so Canadians are widely viewed as just another version of Americans, and regularly mistaken as Americans. The English and Irish speak English but are not so easily confused with being American.

Places like Latin America may not be the best example. Venezeulans speak Spanish, Argentinians speak Spanish, Brazilians speak Portuguese, and so on. They may share the language of other countries like Mexico or Spain, but they aren't multilingual states like Canada or Belgium. For the most part language is directly connected to cultural identity, and as the example of Canada shows, it may be the biggest factor in shaping it. If this wasn't the case then the Quebec independence movement would die off and English Canadians wouldn't feel like they are in a different country in Trois-Riviëres.
 

pugsville

Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
9,776
In part the reverse happened, borders/nation determined language. In that a lot of regions and dialects which happened to be within national borders with the advent of nationalism, mass education, mass media, the determination of which language is dominate in various areas, to some extent is determined by the borders in the late 19th century/early 20th century when languages were "standardized" on a peasant population that generally wasn't nationalists, but very localist, regional speaking local dialects, and often not identifying with the Nation at all.
 
Mar 2012
510
Because most states have a language associated with it. Countries like Canada are a big exception, and even still Quebecois identity is centered around the French language and they are often considered a nation without a state. As for the Canada and America comparison, I am not sure what you are getting at. Language aside, Canada never really developed a distinct identity, so Canadians are widely viewed as just another version of Americans, and regularly mistaken as Americans. The English and Irish speak English but are not so easily confused with being American.

Places like Latin America may not be the best example. Venezeulans speak Spanish, Argentinians speak Spanish, Brazilians speak Portuguese, and so on. They may share the language of other countries like Mexico or Spain, but they aren't multilingual states like Canada or Belgium. For the most part language is directly connected to cultural identity, and as the example of Canada shows, it may be the biggest factor in shaping it. If this wasn't the case then the Quebec independence movement would die off and English Canadians wouldn't feel like they are in a different country in Trois-Riviëres.
I think it'd be best to understand although language is relevant the quebec issue has as much to do with Quebec being a large eastern-atlantic province as it does anything else.

In newfoundland nationalism is similarly as strong however we lack the population for it to be anything more than a pipe dream.

Anyhow I still don't get what your saying.


Ukrane has a massive russian speaking population. Moldova, austria, switzerland, belgium, all the arab countries, many places in africa asia step into similar examples how language is a poor indicator of language.

To say it's the norm applies mostly to a handful of european countries.
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
22,750
SoCal
Why is it that it is so commonly assumed that language=country.

i.e. people from France speak french, people from england speak english, people from italy speak italian.

Obviously I'm not assuming people are not so stupid that they think americans speak american etc. Nor do I downplay the fact that humans think in symbolic terms.

But as a canadian it seems interesting that so many countries lack a linguistic identity yet it's hard for people to appreciate that americans and canadians are both the same but different.

The same way hispanic nations, arab nations etc all lack a directly linguistic identity.
Your initial premise here appears to be false, at least for most European countries:

 

Larrey

Ad Honorem
Sep 2011
5,916
Well, here's a language map of Europe interpreting the situation in 1914:


We have situation where it has been observed that in 1800 only about 20% of the population of France spoke French. Otoh up until then, the nobility in most of the German lands spoke French otoh. In towns and cities all around the Baltic at the same time, German was often as common a language of daily use as the national language (often a kind of peasants' language). In Finland Swedish, German and Finnish were all used, with about a third of the population speaking Swedish (5% today — it took a political project of the Finnish social elite to actively switch from Swedish to Finnish in the late 19th c.).

In between 1800 and 1914, or today for that matter, lay a century of post-French revolution politics of nationhood.
 
Nov 2014
15
Oklahoma USA
Didn't someone once say some words of wisdom to the effect that:

"A nation is a language with an army"?

Help me out here, I'd like to give credit as credit is due.
 

Grimald

Ad Honorem
Nov 2011
5,908
Hercynian Forest
Didn't someone once say some words of wisdom to the effect that:

"A nation is a language with an army"?

Help me out here, I'd like to give credit as credit is due.
You are probably referring to the widely cited aphorism on the difference between a language and a dialect:

A language is a dialect with an army and a navy.
It is attributed to Max Weinreich (1894-1969), a linguist of Yiddish. Yiddish did of course not have an army nor a navy, and thus was often classified as a dialect of German, or an incorrect version of German.

The relationship between dialect and language is indeed important for the genesis of modern nations.
 
Mar 2014
8,881
Canterbury
A nation and a state are not the same thing. A state has sovereign jurisdiction over territory; a nation's any self-conscious group of people bound by ethnic, religious, cultural, or linguistic ties. The vast majority of nations do not have states, and most states have multiple nations with them. France has the Basque, Bretons, and Occitan, for example. The UK has various Celtic nations. Spain is essentially a pottage of nations, with 'Spanish' more an umbrella term than anything else. Italy's debateable, and let's not get started on the Balkans...
 
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