Talking Your Culture: Diversity In Language And Culture
Talking Your Culture: Diversity In Language And Culture
Every society has their own unique culture in which the lives of the people are patterned. Culture is responsible for shaping the identity of a society and the individuals who live in that society. People conform to distinguishable culture of their respective society by adhering to the norms, traditions, beliefs, and values that characterize a culture. Culture shapes people’s behavior and attitudes and people are shaped their culture by adopting new norms and accepted values that contribute to the evolution of their existing culture.
Every one of us grew up adhering to a defined culture that differentiates us from other people who belong to another societal group, as its members have their own version of cultural attributes. Culture is a foreordained set of observable characteristics and traits that are unique. It is composed of beliefs and values that were designed by the first settlers of the land. It encompasses a wide variety of areas that reinforce and redefine a society’s culture. It is composed of different aspects such as arts, architecture, rituals and traditions, and even the form of political and economic system.
Moreover, innate qualities like philosophy and ideology, lifestyle and behavior all make up the totality of culture (Religion vs. Culture 2007). Culture is a dynamic and changing attribute of a society that continuously shapes and reshapes the needs and lifestyle of the people. Culture continues to acquiesce to people’s lives that change over a period of time. There are a lot of factors that affect and influence the changes in culture. These factors greatly affect the development of a more staple and established culture in a society.
Religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and racial identity are some of the factors that influence developments in culture. Culture manifests through various ways. Pieces of arts are sometimes based on some indigenous characteristics of a culture like their rituals and traditions. Political and economic system also distinguishes the culture of a nation. For instance, Islamic countries create policies that are in line with their cultural and religious attributes due to its deep influence in the lives of the Muslims.
Meanwhile, communist and socialist countries like China patterned their economic system in accordance to the philosophical view of their culture which is communism. Another manifestation of culture is language which largely contributes to the differentiation of the various existing culture in the global context. Language is the fundamental means by which we conduct our daily lives. We socialize with other people and when used in the framework of communication, it is attached in culture in many and various of complex ways (Kramsch and Widdowson 1998:3). Language and Culture Language is a discernible characteristic of a culture.
Language and culture is obviously related, for language is encapsulated in the broad context of culture and it could not be discussed or interpreted separately from culture. On the other hand, culture will never exist without language for it needs expression (Kaplan and Baldauf 2006:220). Culture needs to be manifested and one way to express one’s culture is through language—in people’s communication practice and how their attitudes and behavior was shown in their utilization of linguistics. Language and culture is usually discussed in one scope for language is embedded in culture.
More often than not, the diversity in culture is attributed to the diversity in language. This connotes the positive aspect of having a diverse and rich culture and leads to the vitality of preserving and fostering the richness in multilingual and multicultural global society (Kaplan and Baldauf 2006:220). The cultural and language diversity of various social groups in the world brings about positive and negative implications. However, people are expected to enrich diversity for it makes the world an exciting place. Language is a reflection of our shared experience.
These words reflect the person’s attitudes, beliefs, behavior. It expresses the reality of one’s culture. It is a depiction of how an individual was reared by their version of culture and society. Behavior, attitudes, and beliefs were implied in the messages constructed by an individual. Members of a social group also create experiences using their language through its verbal and non-verbal aspects. Through the use of language, people interact with one another and socialization is permitted. Thus, they create experiences with their own social groups or from other groups with different cultural identity.
Language is a system in which people can differentiate themselves from other through the use of their language (Kramsch and Widdowson 1998:3). Culture and language are related and may correspond to socialization and acculturation phenomena that happen in the society. Culture affects our language in terms of what is appropriate to say or write and for whom under what circumstances because they embodied the cultural reality. The ways and means of people in using the language could be regarded as the invisible norm dictated by culture to impose order and understanding among language users (Kramsch and Widdowson 1998:3).
Language has many interesting subdivisions and many forms. Some of the variants are the dialects of the ‘main language’. Some of the dialects are somehow associated to certain group of individuals. There are also a specialized language in occupational groups that distinguish them from other groups, forming their own what we call jargons (Kaplan and Baldauf 2006:220). When we talk about language of a certain culture we do not only talk about the conglomerate of subcultures within, but the various cultures expressed in that language.
Meanwhile, when we talk of culture, we do not just discuss the assemblage of language but also the various languages expressing that particular culture (Kaplan and Badauf 2006:221). We could determine if language mirrors culture of a society. There are many social groups using the same language but the way they use the language is far different from the other groups. For example, nations where English is their second language choose to use the language in the prolific sense that is more erudite, while native English speakers much prefer to keep it simple and concise.
Cultural Diversity through Language Differences The increasing extent of highlighted relationship of language and culture has led to the obtaining information on how cultural differences are created through the different forms of linguistic practices and usage. It also paved the way for determining how the development of the language and socialization greatly contributes to the total development of cultural identities (Risager 2006:1). Language plays a significant role in the different areas of practices and it is necessary to study the interface of language and culture.
Focus should not only be allotted to the societal and structural content but also to the cultural context of the language and how meanings are conveyed (Risager 2006:1). The relation between language and culture and on its subcultures may vary considerably due to its usage or how people will be able to utilize the language. This culture-specific content can be seen mostly in many technically specialized languages, particularly if that language is globally used (Kaplan and Baldauf 2006:220). For example, the Internet is a world known mechanism that enables us to reach people in different countries.
The Internet’s common language is English that is reduced to avoid cultural embedding. There is a so-called international language that is used when dealing with foreigners. Consequently, people have to somehow modify the language to achieve understanding and cultural relativity. The reduction of a certain language is stripped on purpose and should not be burdened with cultural load. This is due to the fact that the cultural backgrounds of the people somehow affect their utilization of the international language or the common language that is jointly used by everyone. Thus, it creates unintended misunderstanding.
Some companies realized that they have to adapt the language they are using in different cultural regions to which they cater their services (Kaplan and Badauf 2006:220). Cultural diversity, though the concept is interesting and people should promote their multicultural attributes, sometimes have negative implications in a society. Because of cultural differences, we could not fully achieve growth and unity. Miscommunication occurs because of relative contextual interpretation on actions and messages. Though the nations subjected themselves in globalization, it does not bridge the gap that is caused by cultural differences of nations.
It just promotes free international exchange of goods for economic gain. Unifying different groups with different ethnic identity would be possible if we could break down all cultural barriers and be just members of a one global society. However, due to the differences brought by various aspects of culture, the disparity creates a gap among individuals, not because they do not want be identified as the other, but because they could not understand one another due to their interpretation that is quite contrary from each other.
Understanding is somehow elusive in cultures, for culture is a vital human experience and you could never fathom it without emerging yourself within. Language creates the world’s cultural diversity. It is a form of a cultural barrier that is difficult to resolve because it is deep-seated in our own culture and modifying or altering them will greatly affect the whole context of our culture. Language is inherent in our culture; thus, many individuals are reared using a particular language and adjustments would just confuse the people. Different cultures and subcultures use language differently.
Communication patterns and practice of a person reflects one’s culture. People in some culture may be more expressive of their thoughts and feelings, while people from other cultures may choose to be stoic and reserved in verbal communication. Some of the communication variables that are cultural different are eye contact, proximity to others, modes of asking questions and employing social small talk (DeLaune and Ladner 2002:199). Culture and language may be considered as inseparable. Language and Culture have an obvious and undeniable relationship on how they greatly affect each other.
Language affects the development of culture because of the inevitable changes in society, while culture also affects language merely on how a person uses the language. Language reflects a person’s attitude, behavior, beliefs, and values depending on how an individual uses linguistics practices. There is a general understanding that, through the procurement of the prevailing opinions and practices in culture and language, it leads to the way for societal success. Language is one of the factors of cultural diversity.
It is one of the main causes why cultures are unable to be unified though many efforts have been tried. Differences in language lead to cultural differences because individuals from various social groups may not understand each other easily and may interpret event and issues differently. For instance, a person from a certain social group with unique characteristics may perceive the criticisms of a teacher as a judgment and aim to hurt a person’s feeling, while the other may perceive it as constructive and in the positive light that are designed to define a person’s flaws for improvement.
The emphasis given in the use of language in different contextual culture led to the understanding cultural differences and how developments in language are linked to the evolution of cultural identity. Indeed, the significant relation of language and culture contributes to the whole well-being of a society and its development for it reinforces the enrichment of its cultural identity.
University/College: University of Arkansas System
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 22 November 2016
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