Identity and language

This course is part of the programme
Doctoral study programme Humanities

Objectives and competences

The main aim of the subject is to understand the relationship between language and identity by an individual as well as by a group. It is the most convenient to observe this relationship in a multilingual environment, where an individual has to choose among the languages/linguistic systems daily, so we will observe it in the Slovenian and Friulian communities in Italy. Through the study of relevant literature and his own field notes the student will be able to analyze the relationship of an individual to his own identity in different speech situations, he will be able to understand the dynamics of changing the individual's and the group's identities which are created in changing societal and social circumstances.


A fluent competence in English, active participation in lectures (at least 80 %), active participation in fieldwork (field notes), active participation in discussions and the study of relevant literature.


Each language develops according to the needs of its users in a geographical territory and in a certain time period. The group which shares the same language, usually shares the same way of life and culture. For that reason the language is always in close connection with the identity of the group that uses it and its individuals. Through language meanings are ascribed to things and the meanings establish the relationship between our conceptual and linguistic systems. Thinking about a certain culture and identity therefore means thinking about the common concepts, common linguistic system and the codes that establish the relationship between the conceptual and the linguistic systems. Identity and language are in process of constant change, which means that the future of individual's as well as the groups' identity depends on the degree of closeness between the language and the common identity as the relationship between them is not guaranteed, it has to be made conscious, it needs constant cultivation and protection.

Intended learning outcomes

Through the theoretical concepts of sociolinguistics, psycholinguistics and linguistics a student will be able to recognize different groups of identities (individual's and group's), among them especially the so-called territorial identities, i.e. local, regional ethnic and national by different nations, but especially by the Slovenians. Through relevant literature we will get to know the construction of individual ethnicities and nations in Europe and the differences in the sense of construction of the national versus ethnic identities (e.g. the Slovenians versus the Basques). Through the sociolinguistic interviews of Slovenian and Friulian speakers we will get familiar with the reasons why the Slovenians have constituted as a nation while the Friulians have constituted as an ethnicity.


oral exam (50%), project work (50%)

Lecturer's references

Assoc. Prof. dr. Danila Zuljan Kumar is a researcher at the Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Fran Ramovš Institute of Slovenian Language. Her research focuses on Slovenian dialectology, in particular on the Ter/Torre Valley, Nadiško/Natisone Valley and Brda/Collio dialects of the Slovenian Littoral dialect group. In this context, she is particularly interested in the problems of language contact between unrelated languages, i.e. between the West Slovenian dialects and their Romance neighbours. Recently, she has also been working on sociolinguistic issues of language contact, such as the relationship between identities and languages in multilingual societies. At the Faculty of Humanities of the University of Nova Gorica, she lectures in the courses Dialectology and Sociolinguistics. In 2022, her scientific monograph Skladnja nadiškega in briškega narečja (The Syntax of the Dialects of the Natisone Valley and the Brda) was published, in which she deals specifically with selected syntactic issues of two peripheral Slovenian dialects in contact with the neighbouring Friulian dialects and the Italian language. This year also saw the publication of the scientific monograph Saggi scelti sulla storia, sulla lingua e sulla societa' slovena al confine Italo-Sloveno, for which Dr. Danila Zuljan Kumar took the initiative, co-edited it and found an Italian co-editor (Kappa Vu Edizioni publishing house from Udine, Italy).

Selected works:

ZULJAN KUMAR, Danila, LEGAN RAVNIKAR, Andreja (urednik). Skladnja nadiškega in briškega narečja. 1. izd. Ljubljana: Založba ZRC, 2022. 201 str., ilustr. Zbirka Linguistica & philologica, 42.

ZULJAN KUMAR, Danila. Change in the discursive practices of bilingual speakers after moving to a monolingual environment = Sprememba diskurzivnih praks dvojezičnih govorcev po preselitvi v enojezično okolje. Razprave in gradivo : revija za narodnostna vprašanja. [Tiskana izd.]. 2022, št. 88, str. 67-85.

ZULJAN KUMAR, Danila. Identity and discursive practices of Friulians and Slovenes in the Province of Udine, Italy, in recent decades. Dialectologia: revista electrònica. 2020, nr. 24, str. 273-296.

ZULJAN KUMAR, Danila. Pragmatic functions of repetitions in spontaneous spoken dialect discourse. Dialectologia et geolinguistica. [Print Ausg.]. 2019, vol. 27, iss. 1, str. 123-141.

ZULJAN KUMAR, Danila. Word order in Slovene dialectal discourse. Slovenski jezik - Slovene linguistic studies. [Tiskana izd.]. 2019, 12, str. 53-74.