Language and culture are very closely related. The appearance of a culture has shadows on its language, and language of a region reflects its culture. Language is not just about how it is spoken and written, or its script.
Language is a lot more about its usage in different parts of the world. The same language can assume different forms in various parts of the world. Even when it is the same language, words come to assume a different meaning depending on where it is being spoken.
Words that are innocuous in Philippines might be considered offensive in Indonesia. The lives and works of people, and their customs and rites, come to have a huge influence in the language of the region. This extends to not just the written and spoken word, but to an extensive array of physical vocabulary as well. In this Essay on Culture and Language essay, we will attempt to see how culture affects a language, and vice versa.
Culture Based Sociolects
A very major example of this is the English language. As the superior imperialist force in the world, the British people spread across many parts of the globe. They resided in each region for a considerable length of time, imbibing new words into their language from each of these regions, and lending their own words to the languages of the regions they colonized.
This has give rise to many different forms of English, each becoming a sociolect of the language, formidable and large in its own right. They differ from the original Queen’s English not just in form and grammar, but also in the distinct cultural inflections that have been incorporated over time as the natives attempted to make the language their own.
For example, the English language, despite being the lingua franca in most parts of the world, is unique in every region where it is spoken. According to a recent estimate, about two-thirds of the world’s English language speakers are nonnative; that is, they have either leaned the language on migrating to primarily English-speaking countries, or they have grown up in regions where English is the co-official language used by the state.
As a result, the customs of these regions, and transliterations of the native languages, have been incorporated into the English spoken in these regions. For instance, it is very common to hear in the Indian subcontinent the word ‘no’ preceded by a question, as in, “But that is not how it works, no?” This is, simply put, an Indianized version of “isn’t/ doesn’t it”, which, translated to most Indian languages, might simply be ‘no’.
Influence of Culture on Language
But this is just an example of how native language influences an immigrant language. You would also see ample instances of how culture affects a language. For instance, the word mantra, which is used to mean ‘key’ or ‘edict’ in English, is a Sanskrit word. It is part of the very Indian ritual of chanting verses from Holy Scriptures to a set tune and rhythm. These verses are meant to show the way of life to the devotee, hence the association with the concept of edict or dictum.
When you move to a new country and attempt to learn the language there, your learning would remain incomplete unless you also learn the physical vocabulary. A huge amount s conveyed though physical vocabulary, such as hand gestures, eye movements, and even movements of the shoulder. Some of the physical vocabulary in certain regions of the world can be quite complex and difficult for a foreigner to understand.
Language and culture are completely interconnected. Therefore, when you move to a different region, it is important for you to learn the language of the region to be really able to assimilate yourself with the culture of the place. Language is the vehicle of communication, and it helps in transmission of a culture by assimilating itself to different cultures and carrying its own cultural traits to different languages.
Denoting Cultural Differences
The language of a place denotes significant details about the culture of the natives. For instance, the eastern countries usually have different words denoting relationships of the same kind. For example, there are different words for the grandmother and grandfather from your mother’s side and your father’s side, and different words for your maternal and paternal uncles. On the other hand, western cultures usually have a single word to describe these relationships. This denotes a significant difference between the cultures of these two hemispheres; on the eastern hemisphere, the cultures are a lot more family oriented, and much less individualistic and independent than the natives of most of the western hemisphere.
Conclusion – Essay on Culture & Language
Despite all the differences in culture and language, it must be noted, however, that there are some universal concepts that are present in all cultures. Unless the concept is very indigenous and peculiar to a particular ethnicity, such as the ‘dreaming’ of the Australian aboriginals, most concepts can be understood among the different cultures. Intermingling among the different cultures, thanks to globalization, has also led to assimilation on a much larger scale.