Cultural Symbols That Identify Us

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Identity may have several different roles depending on the social context. According to the Oxford dictionary, identity means the quality or condition of being the same in substance, composition, nature, properties, or in particular qualities under consideration; the condition or fact that a person or thing is itself and not something else, sameness; individuality; personality. When we speak of a person’s identity we are referring to aspects of the world that one has taken over as their own, consciously and unconsciously. For instance, the story “Two Ways to Belong in America” is an example of adapting to a conventional American culture and its effects on a person's identity. Identity is created when one takes into account its symbolic aspect. Symbols play a fundamental role in the process of creating identity. There are symbolic forms and social traits that people, who live in America but are originally from different cultures, use to express their identity such as family, friends, cultural traditions, language, food, images, and feelings of their past. These aspects are symbolic and people have taken them as their own, in other words as their identity. There are symbols that play an important role in our lives; we think and express our thoughts and feelings through symbols. Language is a powerful symbol of human and ethnic identity. When we hear someone speak, right away we make guesses about gender, education level, and place of origin. For example, a common theme that emerges from many identity stories as well as my own experience is the language. People feel they identify themselves with others by the language they speak. For many people language runs deeply into cultural and personal identities. They feel the language identifies them, they feel comfortable communicating and being involved mostly with people of their same culture. There is a certain use of the language such as idioms that only people of their same culture can understand. However, there...
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