One of the controversial topics discussed in almost every field is the challenge between form and content. One of the examples I’ve encountered related to second language identity, was in the movie “The Terminal”. In this movie, Tom Hanks stars as Viktor Navorski, a Krakozhian (one of the imaginary Soviet Union nationalities) traveller who is trying to go to New York, is stuck at the airport due to some technicalities and bureacracies. He is offered that in order to get out of the situation, he can just ask for asylum by claiming that he is afraid of going back to Krakozhia. The conversation would go like this:

Officer: Are you afraid of going back to Krakozhia?
Viktor: Is home. I am not afraid from my home. I am afraid of this room a little. … I am afraid of ghosts, wolfmen, dracula, but I am not afraid from home.

As you can see, he made a mistake in form when talking of his home country, but he is grammatical while talking of unimportant stuff. It shows that his second language identity hasn’t been shaped yet. Therefore, talking about his home makes him focus on the content and makes a mistakes on the surface. However, he is pretty much competent when he focuses on form and loses the content and talks of random words.

This could explain why people revert to their native language when they express extreme emotions such as cursing in anger. Don’t you think so?

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3 Comments

  1. A

    You mean in using second language (specially when someone is not masterd in that language) he focuse on form so some time they will miss the content and they can not express themselves well?

    • n3ol3oy

      Well, yeah, before your second language identity is shaped, the focus both on form and content is a little challenging.

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