There are various different ways in which people interact with one another, communication being the most common, and language being the most common form of communication. We use it to convey our emotions, thoughts and feelings, and to express ourselves. Language is an absolutely integral part of the survival of the human race, and a key aspect of various cultures. Whatever is considered meaningful to a group of individuals - from their daily routine to less regular traditions and rituals - constitutes a culture, and is obeyed and treated with respect by all members. Language is merely one such component, being both part of daily life and part of tradition, yet it is one of the most important. Whether this language is used by large percentages of the world's populations, such as English, or by significantly smaller groups, such as ethnic minorities who may speak a language of their own, it is undoubtedly a cornerstone of culture and vital to the development of a nation. For this essay, I will be discussing the role of language in the development of both the nation state and cultural identity, although I shall focus primarily on the latter.
The idea of the nation state, or `nationalism', covers a broader spectrum than culture, making it `notoriously difficult to define'. Nationalism unifies generations of people, even those who have never met. It is embedded with cultural practices and social behaviours, transcending time and location, and comes as a result of shared beliefs and values, expressed through social behaviour and traditional objects. It is a product of community, having developed from smaller social relations, and has expanded to cover a much larger group of people. These people were united through various factors, such as location, history, and language. Let us take Germany during the early 1500s,