Discuss the relationship between language and culture.
Culture and language are strongly interconnected. The relationship between culture and language is controversial and when someone tries to understand how language and culture are connected a number of questions come to mind. To understand the relationship between language and culture clearly, it is good to get acquainted with their definitions first.
Definition of Culture
Culture is defined as a combination of the type of thought and the characteristics of a group of people. The word culture is derived from the Latin word ‘colere’ which means something born from the earth. So, when people interact with each other, they grow together which forms their culture. Typically, the term culture is defined using external aspects such as language, traditions, religion, art, and cuisine. But, culture is something deeper than these issues. It refers to the way we think and interact with the people around us.
Definition of Language
Language is the method of human communication either spoken or written consisting of the use of words in a structured or conventional way.
According to Aristotle, “Language stands for speech that humans produce for exchanging their experience resulting in ideas and emotion.
According to Noam Chomsky, “A language is a set of sentences, each finite in length and constructed out of the finite set of elements.
Evolution of Language and Culture
Language and culture are constantly changing. For example, the English language we use today is very different from Old English – for example, the ancient form “Maketh” has been changed to “Make”. Similarly, you can identify several differences between the old Western culture and the new culture. No language can exist without culture. Both language and culture experience massive changes over time. Therefore, you cannot expect a 10-year-old child and a 70-year-old man to share the same culture and language though they may live in the same locality.
Like Ecological Balance
A renowned linguist Ken Hale expresses his views on the culture-language relationship. He says “When a language is lost, a part of the culture gets lost as well as Culture is significantly encoded in language.” Culture influences our core traditions, values, and the way we interact with others in society. On the other hand, language makes those interactions easy. Simply put, language facilitates social interactions while culture helps us to learn how to behave and interact with others.
In Personality Formation
Both language and culture play an important role in shaping human personality. Culture tells us how to communicate with others and helps build values and ethics. Moreover, it keeps us close to like-minded people, and thus, the sense of kinship strengthens our bond with society. On the other hand, language is like a tool that we use to express our culture. Indeed, cultural ideas and beliefs advance through language. Moreover, both culture and language allow us to peek into the past and shape our ideas.
Understanding culture can greatly help in learning any foreign language. If one is interested in learning one or more foreign languages, one must study the culture of the region concerned. It is rightly said that ‘action speaks louder than words. Thus, “the more one knows about the cultural background of a language, the faster one can learn that language.”
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