Relationship Between Language and Culture
By: Vanessa Anderson
Language and culture are interlinked. The human being is s social animal who cannot live alone. For connecting with each other language is very important and when people start living together they form different cultures according to their context. Communication through language is required for interacting between cultures.
Language is the elaborate system of communication, spoken or written, verbal or non-verbal. Usually, natural languages are spoken while written languages are constructed languages generated by man. Language also includes systems like Braille. This is the language for blind people. The start of human language is not known. Linguists think that spoken language started with the first humans, the Homo sapiens.
Although there is no evidence which shows how language truly began. There are thousands of languages which are spoken around the globe. In the point of view of language, much importance is given to native language which displays one’s life in the community. It is a universal truth about the language.
Man is a social animal and can’t live alone. When people live together, they form a community. Peoples habits values norms, religion and their specific way of living in the community forms a culture. Culture has a very deeper impact on human life. Our way of thinking, interacting with each other and how to view the world is called a cultural lens.
The word culture is derived from the Latin term colere which means to grow something from the earth so when people interact with each other, they grow together which forms the culture so culture also classifies people into groups: Western culture, Eastern culture and African culture. Just like language, every person has its own unique culture. Some of us share same characteristics who live in same environment but two people ideas and cultural views and ideas may differ.
We all grow up speaking one or multiple languages by listening and observing the speech around us. It is very important to recognize that everyone has its own speech patterns and two persons cannot speak alike. There are thousands of languages spoken in various regions, cultures and community.
Each region culture and community has its own vocabulary and abstract of the language. In this way language permits us to communicate and associate with the larger group by maintaining their individuality within a language.
Segregation of Languages
It is very difficult to recognize that due to differences in the speech the new pattern of language is created. Linguists recognize the different language at the point where people cannot understand one another without some learning and teaching. The variation between languages become slightly complex when dealing with smaller dialects, which can variate by the community but still have common things. For example Lahnda is recognized as one language by linguists which has group of dialects that have common characteristics.
Language and Culture Relationship
Every person has its own unique culture. People do share characteristics with others who live in the same surroundings but two people cannot have same cultural views and ideas. Language and culture cannot live without each other. Brittanica reveals that language connects with every aspect of human life in society, and it can be understood only if it is known in relation to society.
This shows that knowing a language requires knowing the surrounding culture. Wenying Jiang has beautifully depicted the relationship between language and culture as an iceberg. Language and some part of culture are the tip of iceberg which you see above the water and large part of what forms the iceberg, culture, hides below the surface. Another correlation between language and culture is of flesh and blood.
Flesh and blood together create a man. One without other results in death. Ken Hale who is the linguist from Massachusetts Institute of Technology is of the view that if you lose the language, a wider part of the culture goes too because much of that culture is concealed in the language. Culture has a great impact on our values, traditions and ways of interaction while language supports those interactions. Language helps you to interact and culture guides you how to do so accurately.
Culture came first or Language
We do not have any record about the initial languages that how they looked like. Linguists are of the view that languages are innate. They are communicated in one way or the other so language is developed first and then the cultures are developed. If our languages increase their complexity it has an impact on our culture because with a language we were able to convey in-depth ideas.
Learning of Language and Culture
At the time of birth, we are all same. With the passage of time and with the interactions with others, we learn how to think, speak and act. Actually language learning starts in Womb. When babies are born, they are able to recognize their mother’s voice and even compare the foreign language. In our first birthday our brains become ready to concentrate on sounds which we heard the most. This means in a year one we are able to recognize 800 language sounds which are laser-focused.
The evolution of the culture is same. Young children do not examine the world, they start to learn little about the culture at the age of around 9 months. Children start to copy actions which they have seen repeatedly and interact with others in the way that have been programmed for them. If children grow up in culture that focuses play than they will interact with each other and objects in a pleasant manner.
If the culture focuses on speech and language than a child will scrutinize the world around them furthermore if children are living in the culture that focuses silent work and production, children will examine their models and try to mimic them. In their middle age children will learn to connect with others according to the values and norms of the culture. Generation by generation language and culture are changing rapidly.
Constantly changing both language and culture
It is evident to note that both language and culture are constantly changing. For example the English language today resembles old English. The western culture which is looked today is very different from the culture which is hundred years old. We cannot imagine fifteen years old and fifty-five years to share the same language and culture even if they are living in the same environment. Our interactions with world refer to change.
Influence of Culture and Language on Persons Identity
Both culture and language shape a person’s identity. Culture depicts how we coordinate with and interact with the world. It enables us to like people groups and gives us a sense of security and belonging. On the contrary Language is the way to express culture. The Language permits us to pass down cultural stories and ideas and communicate our own thoughts and beliefs. Culture and language put light on our past and guides us what should we need to become.
Our culture and native language lay the foundation of our identity. They don’t write the final chapter. Perhaps they are beginning point that assists us in navigating the roads and assist as our compass which always helps you in returning home. With the passage of time, our interaction with people who don’t share their cultural background has become very critical. When we begin to join new groups some of our cultural norms are challenged.
In such case we need to make a decision, reject this new person or reject a cultural norm. While making a decision between the two options needs a cultural self-awareness. Our culture is basically incorporated us in such a way so that we decide our idea of normal over such people who challenge us. As we come out of our comfort zone and analyze other languages and cultures we came to know that our identities are challenged and we need to pave the way. We need to find our piece of identity around the world in spite of in only one community.
Relationship between Language and Culture
The connection between language and culture is a very complicated topic. We all have a culture and language. Our culture and language leads us towards our people and states us how we perceive the world. Language and culture are parts of our lives since we are born.
Usually we don’t appreciate the difficulties of culture and language until we enter the world of that is not our own. If you are learning a new language, Culture should be an important part of your journey. You will be able to communicate only if u know with whom you are interacting and to handle and addressed them properly.