Languages and Culture

by Vlad Turchyn

Language and culture are tightly connected. Language is culture and culture is language. A particular language is normally related to a specific group of people. When you interact with another language, it means you are interacting with the culture associated with that language. For instance, let's say you are studying French, this means you are interacting with the French culture.

Studying another language does not only involve learning its grammar rules, alphabet and arrangement of words but also learning about the customs and behaviour of that particular society.

Do you have an interest in other people's culture? Learning their language is perfect to learn about their culture. To learn history and languages, you just need to find an online tutor and learn conveniently from the comfort of your home. When learning another language, the tutor will always reference the culture where that language belongs since language is deeply ingrained in the culture.

The transmission of language and culture

Language can be transmitted culturally. All people are similar at birth. It is not until kids are exposed to their surroundings that they become who they are in and at their cultural group. Children's lives, opinions and language are shaped by their surroundings.

All people are the same mentally and physically. However, interactions between people or groups are different from place to place. There are patterns which emerge from the behaviour and interactions in a society which may either be acceptable or unacceptable. What is acceptable and unacceptable varies from one place to another. This is the basis of different cultures.

Language influences the way people think

People's opinions largely depend on their culture and the language which has been shaped by that culture. Knowing a language, therefore, enhances understanding a people and their culture.

From this, it is clear that studying a new language involves learning a new culture. Consequently, language tutors are also tutors of culture.

Language is culture and culture is language

Language and culture have a homologous and complex relationship. They develop together and influence each other as they evolve. Culture starts from the moment speech is available. Any enrichment in language only leads to further development of culture and vice versa.

Since culture is a consequence of interactions between people, the acts of communication are the cultural manifestation within a specific society. Paralanguage is specific to a society. So, what happens when there are interactions between the two cultures? There could be misunderstandings. Little changes in voice tone, gestures and glances, among other communications tools are essential to emphasize what you want to do or say. These critical communication details are learned by observing and imitating.

Language and culture are deeply entwined. Language tutors must, therefore, teach their students, not only the language but also the cultural background of its usage. Failure to teach about the culture in which a language operates, students are learning meaningless symbols and may attach the wrong context to what they are being taught. They may, therefore, use the language inappropriately or in the wrong cultural context.


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