When people talk about language, the topic of culture normally comes out. The same thing happens when the topic of culture is the center of a discussion, it typically touches on language. If you’re still confused about how these two concepts are related to each out, then continue reading so you’ll have an idea about the connection between these two rather different concepts.
Language and Culture: How are they Connected?
But before we go into their relationship, so to speak, we have to define language and culture. Then, we’ll get into all the details you need to know about culture and language and what influence they have upon each other.
What is Language?
Different sources have different definitions of language. Despite being different from each other, they also have some similarities. These sources all agree that language is a system of communication. It expresses ideas or feelings, and it is understood by a particular group of people living in a certain area, region, or country.
With this in mind, language can be defined as a system of communication that expresses an idea or feeling and is understood by a specific group of people. It can also be spoken, written, or gesticulated. It also distinguishes humans from animals.
What is Culture?
Culture, as defined in a dictionary, is the customary beliefs, material traits, and social forms of a religious, racial, or social group. It is also the characteristic features of the daily existence shared by a group of people in a specific place or time.
Culture is essentially the customs and traditions of a certain group of people during a certain era and place. It defines the identity of that group of people and sets them apart from others. Additionally, the culture of a people defines who they are.
How is Language Connected to Culture?
The concepts of language and culture seem different from each other. Language focuses on spoken and written expressions while culture focuses on the identity of a certain group of people. But these concepts are homologous to each other. Both of them share the realities, behaviours, and human values of a specific group of people.
As these two concepts evolve, they influence each other in a way that they become inseparable. Culture is the result of people interacting with each other while language is the cultural manifestation of a certain group of people. If you take out one concept, the other may not survive.
Simply put, language is not limited to conveying ideas and concepts. It is considered a symbolic system that creates and shapes realities. These realities include identities, perceptions, and values, which are, in fact, a part of a culture.
On the other hand, culture can also be considered a communicative event. For instance, art conveys the message of the artist to his or her audience. Dance also communicates a message to the audience, such as the ritual dances of native Americans. Art and dance are part of the culture of a group of people and they contain a message the people want to convey to other groups of people.
Confused? Well, let’s try to explain the concept further.
The relationship between the two can also be explained through a concept called linguistic relativity. A simple explanation of this concept is that language determines the way a person views the world. Or the person’s perception of the world corresponds to the person’s spoken language.
For instance, the description of snow when talking about the weather. For ordinary English speakers, snow is simply snow. But for Eskimos, snow can be defined in different ways when they use the Inuit language. When translated to English, snow can be frosty snow, wet snow, or even clinging snow. So, language has a direct effect on the culture of a person.
If you want to understand a certain culture better, you should learn to speak the language of a group of people. Once you speak the language, you’ll have a different outlook on the culture of a person. Communication is essential to know how a person interprets or views the world.
Transmission of Language and Culture
Since language is learned, it can be culturally transmitted. Children typically learn a language when they are young. The language they learn normally carries with it the culture the language is associated with. For instance, when they learn their mother tongue or the language of their parent, they will learn their parent’s culture. On the other hand, when they learn a second language, they will assimilate the culture of different people.
In this way, you will take note that when people learn English from natural-English speakers, they will end up learning the culture of their teacher. And if the students are young and impressionable, they may end up assimilating the culture of their teachers rather than their own native culture. Unless their parents ensure they are still educated in their native culture.
Assimilation of a Foreign Culture Through Language
This is an important point to consider for English teaching schools since young learners may end up losing their native culture if the school does not implement measures to counter the possible transmission of a foreign culture into the mindset of the children.
While this may be some cause for concern, taking the necessary steps can prevent this from happening. But it’s still possible that part of the foreign culture will still become a part of the psyche of the children.
In the end, teaching a foreign language can be beneficial for a young student since it will open their eyes to a culture different from their native culture. It will also allow them to be open to learn about these cultures and eventually take in the good aspects and incorporate them into their own culture.
Have your Say about Language and Culture
What are your thoughts about the relationship between these two things? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think. We’d love to hear from you.
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