Language and Identity Explored


  • Thomas Rozanov American University, Washington D.C.



Language, identity, collective identity, Russification, bilingualism, Ukraine, Post-Soviet states.


The relationship between language and identity is widely discussed in applied linguistics, sociology, communications and other related scholarly fields. Furthermore, many researchers have focused on the post-Soviet region, which given its unique historical context allows for testing of this relationship. The widespread bilingualism as a result of historical russification and the linguistic transformations that occurred after the collapse of the Soviet Union make the region a ‘sociolinguistic playground’. Recent events in Ukraine have given grounds to further explore this relationship, now in attempt to link language and identity as potential forces for geopolitical change in the region. This paper presents an overview of existing research, theories, and opposing perspectives related to the relationship between language and identity, and considers complications such as historical russification, religious influence, socioeconomic factors, and education with regards to the Ukrainian and post-Soviet context.  I aim to illustrate the significance of language and its effects on socio-political change in the case of Ukraine, by presenting arguments and complications in support of the relationship between language and identity.


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