What’s with the title?

Hannah Arendt

In 1941, Hannah Arendt, a Jewish political theorist, escaped Nazi-controlled Europe and emigrated to the United States. As an immigrant in an English-speaking country, she lamented the loss of her German mother tongue and the ‘productivity’ it had afforded her. She posed the question of what it meant to be someone ‘in a language’. This interesting choice of preposition, ‘in’ rather than ‘with’, forms the title of this website:

To be someone in a language

In a way, we are all immigrants to our bodies. Language is the mother we turn to when we suffer loss, endure pain and try to make sense of the world. It makes us laugh, cry, sing and mourn. To be someone in a language is to be that language. In short, we are language.

This website encapsulates the idea of being someone ‘in a language’ but extends and augments this to reflect other areas of my work. It is the culmination of my teaching and research as an Applied Linguist, TESOL educator and Language Tutor within my current role as Senior Lecturer at Coventry University.

Mike Cribb, June 2017


Hannah Arendt (Oct. 14, 1906 – 1975) by Ryohei Noda CC BY 2.0