Language is an integral part of cultural expression. As a source for the communication of values, beliefs and customs, it fulfils an important social function and promotes a sense of group identity and solidarity. It is a means by which a culture, its traditions and its common values can be transmitted and preserved.
Cultural and linguistic diversity is a feature of most countries today as historical events and human migration bring people from different groups together. In multilingual societies, the preservation of the languages of different ethnic and cultural groups is essential for the preservation of cultural heritage and identity. Loss of language means loss of culture and identity.
Throughout history, in many societies, the suppression of the language of minority groups has been a deliberate policy to curb their minority culture.
As a result, many languages of the world were lost during the process of colonization and migration. A person’s understanding of their own cultural identity and that of others develops from birth and is shaped by the values and attitudes that prevail at home and in the surrounding community.
This identity becomes more complex and fluid over time as people develop loyalties to different groups within society. Linguistic ability also helps migrants maintain cultural and linguistic ties with their country, and proficiency in a second language helps foreigners adapt more easily to new cultures.
At the same time, cultures are not self-sustaining, but changing and evolving as different groups’ systems of belief and way of life adapt to other cultural influences, including mass media and popular culture, so that new identities are born.