Why Is Language So Important To A Culture


Language: The Essence of Culture

Kelsey Holmes, Greenheart Club Program Assistant, contributed to this article. “If culture were a home, language would be the key to the front door, as well as the key to all of the rooms within.” — Khaled Hosseini, author and physician of Afghan descent who lives in the United States. One of the most significant aspects of every culture is the use of language. It is the method through which individuals connect with one another, form relationships, and foster a sense of belonging. There are around 6,500 spoken languages in the world today, each of which is distinct in a variety of ways from the others.

During the early stages of language development, distinct cultural groupings used sounds to piece together common understandings.

In intercultural communication, social reality is produced, maintained, repaired, and modified via the use of symbolic symbols and processes.

Take a look at the picture below, which illustrates how language has changed over time!

  • Culture is described as “a system of symbols, meanings, and standards that has been historically transmitted.” A person’s ability to identify with individuals who speak the same language is automatically enhanced by knowing the language in question.
  • Watch the video below for some inspiration — this 17-year-old can communicate in over 20 different languages!
  • Watching movies or television shows in a variety of languages is an excellent way to get started.
  • What are some of the ways that you connect with people from different cultures?

The power of language: How words shape people, culture

Speaking, writing, and reading are all essential parts of everyday life, especially in a society where language is the major means of expression and interaction. We may learn more about ourselves and why we act in certain ways by looking at how individuals use language, specifically what words and phrases they instinctively pick and mix. Linguistics specialists try to figure out what is distinctive and universal about the language we use, how it is learned, and how it develops through time, as well as what makes it unique and universal.

According to Dan Jurafsky, the Jackson Eli Reynolds Professor in Humanities at Stanford and chair of the Department of Linguistics at the School of Humanities and Sciences, “understanding why and how languages differ reveals about the breadth of what is human.” It is possible to have a better understanding of our humanity by discovering what is universal in all languages.

Republicans and Democrats have a distinct way of thinking about things. Getty Images provided the image.

Understanding stereotypes

Stanford linguists and psychologists are interested in how individuals understand and interpret language. According to study, even the smallest changes in language usage might be associated with the speaker’s own prejudiced opinions in certain situations. According to one research, even a seemingly innocuous remark, such as “girls are just as competent at arithmetic as boys,” might unintentionally reinforce discriminatory prejudices about women. According to the researchers, the grammatical form of the phrase indicates that being strong at arithmetic is more frequent or natural for guys than it is for girls, which is incorrect.

Getty Images provided the image.

Algorithms reveal changes in stereotypes

According to new Stanford study, during the past century, language changes in gender and racial stereotypes have been associated with important social movements and demographic shifts in the United States Census data, which have been documented.

Exploring what an interruption is in conversation

Interrupts in conversation are seen differently by each listener, according to Stanford doctorate candidate Katherine Hilton. The perceptions of interruptions in discussion vary depending on the listener’s own conversational style as well as their gender.

How other languages inform our own

There are over 7,000 languages spoken by people all over the world. Each language is unique in its structure as well as the way it reflects the culture of the people who speak it. Languages have a lot in common, but they are also very different from one another. Jurafsky believes that studying languages other than our own, as well as how they change through time, is vital because it may aid researchers in understanding what lies at the heart of humans’ unique manner of talking with one another and how they came to be.

Language as a lens into behavior

Linguists study how various speech patterns connect to specific actions, such as how language may affect people’s purchasing decisions or how language can influence their usage of social media platforms. Examples include a study conducted by a group of Stanford academics that compared similarities and contrasts in the ways Republicans and Democrats express themselves online in order to better understand how polarization of opinions might arise on social media. According to Jurafsky, “we live in an extremely divided moment.” In order to determine how we might assist in bringing people together, we must first understand what different groups of people are saying and why they say it.

Examining bilingual behavior of children at Texas preschool

The research team at Stanford University examined a sample of bilingual toddlers who attended a Spanish immersion preschool in Texas in order to better understand how they differentiated between their two languages.

Culture, language and identity – Understanding racism

Culture is a distinguishing characteristic of a person’s identity, contributing to their perception of themselves as well as their identification with various groups. Culture may be described as the sum total of ways of living developed by a group of human beings and passed down from one generation to the next in a broad sense. Every community, cultural group, or ethnic group has its own set of values, beliefs, and ways of life that distinguishes them from others. People’s cultural legacy includes more than only the things that can be seen, such as their cuisine, dress, festivities, religion, and language.

  • The common values, rituals, and histories that are indicative of culture influence how a person thinks, behaves, and perceives the world around him or her.
  • The expression of culture is impossible without the use of language.
  • Cultural transmission and preservation are accomplished through the transmission and preservation of cultural traditions and shared values.
  • This is true for people all across the world.
  • As a result, it is critical that individuals preserve their own native language and culture.
  • Kakadu National Park, Warradjan Aboriginal Cultural Centre, and the National Trust of Australia are all examples of cultural and linguistic variety.
  • The extinction of a language entails the extinction of a culture and an identity.
  • As a result of the processes of colonialism and migration, a significant proportion of the world’s languages have been lost.

As languages go extinct, cultures become extinct. While the world becomes essentially less appealing, we also forfeit raw information and the intellectual accomplishments of millennia to reach this goal. MIT’s Ken Hale was reported in Davis (1999) as saying,

Why Is Language Important? Your Guide To The Spoken Word

In addition to language functions, there are several varieties of language as well as various ways to comprehend language in general. Having the ability to distinguish between the two can assist you in understanding additional reasons why language is so essential.

Oral Vs. Written Language

In general, oral communication refers to the use of spoken language for the purpose of speaking with people. Written language is the process of conveying ideas via the use of words on a page. When compared to written language, oral communication is often more informal and quicker, whereas written language is more formal and slower.

Denotative Meaning Vs. Connotative Meaning

Words contain a great deal of meaning, and the meaning of a word is dependent on the context in which it is used. As a result, there are two types of meaning: denotative meaning and connotative meaning. It is the literal definition/intention of a word that determines its denotative meaning, whereas connotative meaning occurs when words have positive or negative meanings/connotations. An example of this would be the difference between the words “home” and “house.” “House” is a denotative phrase since it is the literal name for the sort of building in which someone may live, but “home” is a connotative term because it denotes a refuge, a family, security, and so on, while Recognizing the distinction can assist you in better understanding the intent of the language being used.

Six Elements Of Language

A language is composed of six components:

  1. To guarantee that your intended audience completely understands your thoughts, you must use language in a clear and understandable manner. Economy: Using ‘economic’ language in your speech and eliminating any needless words is important. This implies that you should use only the words that are required and appropriate to convey yourself, and you should avoid employing jargon that your audience will not comprehend. To put it simply, this implies that you should eliminate fluff or sophisticated vocabulary
  2. Occultism: This term refers to ‘indecent language,’ which includes curse words and harsh statements, but is not restricted to these. A Jargon of Confusing Jargon/Jargon: This is incredibly specific language that your audience will not comprehend since they are not familiar with the subject matter that you are discussing. This might occur when your auto technician explains to you what is wrong with your car, but you are not a car mechanic and are thus unable to understand what they are saying
  3. Someone using words to exert power over another person in order to influence, coerce, or persuade them to do something they desire is referred to as exerting power. The goal might alternatively be to establish oneself as the authoritative figure in the room. Using a blend of all of the different sorts of language stated above to successfully and creatively convey ideas is what variety is all about for a speaker
Image byAline DasselfromPixabay

There are many various forms of language that may be used depending on what the speaker is trying to say. However, while certain styles are distinctive to a person’s personality, some speakers may adapt specific styles depending on the occasion, even if it is a departure from their typical speaking style.

1. Direct And Indirect Styles

Direct communication is a method of communicating to someone exactly what you want to say and/or how you’re feeling via the use of words. It is possible to express yourself in an indirect manner by utilizing other words or modes of communication to convey that you are feeling a specific way, but without explicitly stating why or what you are experiencing, in other words by being indirect. Anyone who has been involved in an argument with a significant other is likely to have encountered both of these communication methods at some point.

2. Personal And Contextual Styles

These two linguistic styles are a little more difficult to understand. Personal style, in general, refers to an individual’s personal manner of speaking, is casual, and is focused on that individual. Contextual styles refer to the way language is used in different situations based on the context of the situation. For example, when chatting with friends and colleagues, a professor may use their own personal style, yet when instructing their students, they may adopt a contextual style.

3. Untranslatable Words

Untranslatable words are words or phrases that we have to adapt from other languages because we do not have a term that expresses the same thing in our own language, which is known as a grammatical ambiguity.

Because we don’t have a suitable translation for “Bon Appetit!” it’s an excellent illustration of how we say “Bon Appetit!”

Using Language Effectively

The ability to communicate effectively has several advantages for people, but it can also be a source of contention when language is not used efficiently. This is why it’s critical to be conscious of how you’re expressing yourself in any given circumstance.

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1. Use Appropriate Language

While it is important to use proper vocabulary, it is also important to avoid using vulgar language (although there may be occasions when this is truly suitable for the context!). The term “appropriate language” refers to the use of language that is acceptable for your target audience and that they can comprehend, connect to, and interact with.

2. Use Vivid Language

When you use vivid language, you are referring to the use of imagery in your language in order to express something in the most vivid way possible. For example, utilizing extra adjectives or onomatopoeia to illustrate what you’re saying may be necessary.

3. Use Inclusive Language

Inclusive language refers to the use of language that does not exclude anybody from participating. For example, instead of addressing an audience as “he or she,” it is proper to address them as “they” in order to accommodate persons who may not identify with a specific gender or sexual orientation. The use of racist, sexist, or misogynist language, as well as the use of presumptuous or biased language, is strictly prohibited.

Language Is Changing Along With The Culture

When addressing themes such as inclusive language, it’s simple to see how language is developing in tandem with culture in today’s world. With technology comes new fashions or various methods of communicating, such as the increasing number of teens and young people who utilize slang when they communicate. When civilizations grow more open-minded and progressive, we begin to recognize that there are many different methods of communicating in different languages. Many of us know the answer to the question of why language is essential, yet we frequently take it for granted or don’t give it much thought when we use it.

Explaining Why Language is Important to Culture!

ATTENTION: All quotations are taken from the sociology textbook and should be accompanied by page numbers when applicable. While not all students responded in this manner, the replies that follow reflect some of the best student work. Student Example 1 (2nd Period)Language is extremely important in our culture, as demonstrated by this student. Ideas, information, and attitudes may be passed from one generation to the next through the medium of language. “Language facilitates the development of culture by allowing individuals to think about things other than their immediate experiences” (p.

  • We would have very few memories if we did not have the ability to communicate.
  • With no language available, we would have a difficult time transmitting important information such as dates and timings.
  • “Culture can only exist because of language.” When compared to the facts provided above, this statement is completely accurate.
  • “Language is the foundation of culture,” as the saying goes.
  • “Language facilitates the development of culture by allowing individuals to think about things other than their immediate experiences” (p.
  • We would not have a perfect comprehension of how we think if we did not have language because we would be confined to motions and grunts if we did not have language.
  • When you think about memories, you probably think of things like signing, listening to music, or something your friend said that was hilarious.


Language is one of the most significant parts of culture, as demonstrated by Student Example 3 (3rd Period).

The inability to learn from mistakes and the inability to connect with people via shared experiences are both hampered by a lack of memories in a person’s life.

The usage of languages helps culture to evolve and expand as a result of individuals exchanging prior experiences and providing advise on what needs to be done to not just enhance one culture, but to better every culture on the planet.

Everything humans do is based on communication, not only because it is necessary, but also because it is the result of communication.

Student Exemplification No.

Using language, we “transfer ideas, information, and even attitudes to the next generation,” as one scholar put it.

We would have very little to remember if we didn’t have language.

In the absence of memory, a person’s life would be completely inconsistent.

All deliberation would come to an end.

Student Example 5 (Period 3)Most importantly, language provides us with the chance to interact with one another.

“Language facilitates the development of culture by allowing individuals to think about things other than their immediate experiences.” Furthermore, language allows us to avoid being limited by our memories and experiences since it provides us with the opportunity to talk about and debate our history with other people.

Nevertheless, language does not remain stuck in the past; it continues to change and assist in the construction of the future.

“Language enables you to combine distinct acts into a single cohesive statement,” she says. As a result, we come to the conclusion that language, along with all of the other crucial things it implies for humans, is the foundation of culture.

Why Is Language Important to Culture?

Language plays a crucial role in our daily lives. It is a distinctively human gift that allows us to communicate with one another and distinguishes us from other monkeys. Language, on the other hand, is much more than just a tool of communication. It is also an inextricably linked component of our cultural heritage. What is the significance of language in culture? There is considerable disagreement as to whether a specific language impacts people’s mind processes or whether it is rather people’s culture that influences their thought processes; nonetheless, there is little question that language and culture are inextricably intertwined.

Chomsky is one of the most well-known linguists in the world.

Although there are certain similarities between different cultures, there are also some significant distinctions that should not be overlooked.

Direct and Indirect Styles

Self-expression and verbal clarity are highly valued in cultures such as the United States and Western Europe. We are urged to be direct and to express ourselves without fear. Asian civilizations, on the other hand, like to communicate in a more indirect manner. It is significantly more common to use words such as “maybe” and “maybe” than it is to use the words “yes,” “no,” or “for sure.” In Japanese culture, accurate articulation is valued far less than communicating between the lines or being understood without using words; as a result, the language is employed in a very different way.

Personal and Contextual Styles

The United States, which is characterized by its individualistic culture, communicates in a highly personal manner. The words “I” and “you” are two of the most commonly used in our culture today. It has been pointed out by linguists that it is hard for Americans to have a discussion without utilizing these pronouns. According to comparisons with other countries, American society is not overly formal, and it is proper to say “you” to your employer or the President, to a complete stranger, to your spouse, or to your kid.

In collectivistic societies, a context-sensitive style of communication is employed (such as Asian.) The style of language is centered on the speaker and is determined by the person’s social rank and identification.

Japanese place a great deal of emphasis on a person’s social standing, and they do so through the use of linguistic forms known as honorifics, which are utilized in accordance with the rank of the person who is speaking and the person to whom he or she is addressing.

Untranslatable Words

Another technique to demonstrate why language is crucial to culture is to examine the vocabulary that is used by a given culture within that culture. Many individuals are unaware that there are several terms that cannot be translated from one language to another simply because they do not exist in the other language in question. The term “shopping,” which defines one of the most popular pastimes in the United States, does not exist as a noun in several other languages (for example, in Russian).

Because it does not constitute a significant portion of the other civilizations.

Another noteworthy example is the term “ilunga,” which means “ilunga tree.” It is derived from the Tshiluba language of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and is often regarded as the world’s most difficult word to translate.

Ilunga depicts a person who is willing to forgive any wrongdoing the first and second time it occurs, but never the third time it occurs.

Language Is Changing Along with the Culture

When a culture evolves, so does the language that is spoken in that society. Many of you are undoubtedly aware that the words he and his were employed in a general manner in the English language in the past. Because the United States and much of English-speaking Western Europe are becoming less and less male-dominated societies, the grammar rules have been updated, and new gender agreement rules have been developed to account for this shift. A half-century ago, no one could have predicted that the words “mother” and “father” would one day become contentious in the United States, and that some schools would eventually agree to replace them both with the word “parent.” I hope this essay has helped you understand why language is crucial to culture and, more importantly, has motivated you to appreciate the language you speak even more as a result.

The following websites were utilized as sources: NPR.org – Translating the Untranslatable James Neuliep’s Intercultural Communication, Second Edition is available online (221-222) Image courtesy ofPixabay user атали оyт.

Blurring the Line between Language and Culture

In every language, there are meanings and allusions that go beyond its own boundaries: the meanings of a given language express the culture of a certain social group, for example. Interacting with a language entails doing so with the culture that serves as its starting point of reference. We would be unable to comprehend a culture unless we had direct access to its language, due to the close relationship between the two. A particular language can be used to identify the culture of a specific social group.

As a result, language instruction should always include some explicit reference to the culture, or the entirety of the society from which the particular language is derived.

Because these auxiliary communication strategies are culturally-specific, communicating with individuals from other civilizations or ethnic groups can be fraught with the risk of misunderstanding if the greater framework of culture is not taken into consideration during the communication process.

We learn these culturally specialized strategies over a long period of time, mostly through observation and imitation.

Body language, also known as Kinesics, is the most visible type of paralanguage since it is the language of movements, emotions, and postures, among other things. The meaning of words, on the other hand, can be influenced by the tone and character of one’s voice.

Language is culture and culture is language

Language and culture are intertwined in a complicated and analogous manner. Language and culture are intricately connected and interdependent (they have evolved together, influencing one another in the process, ultimately shaping what it means to be human). As A.L.Krober (1923) put it, “culture began when speech was existent, and from that time on, the enrichment of either signifies the further growth of the other.” In this perspective, In the same way that culture is a product of human contact, cultural manifestations are acts of communication that are taken by certain linguistic groups in particular situations.

  1. In the same way that language communicates via culture, culture communicates through language: Culture, according to Michael Silverstein, has the ability to communicate not just in terms of expressing parts of reality, but also in terms of linking one setting with another.
  2. A fundamental premise of linguistic relativity is that how we perceive the environment is directly impacted by the language we choose to communicate our perceptions of it.
  3. There are no two languages that are so similar that they express the same social reality at the same time.
  4. As a result, to talk implies the assumption of a culture, and to know a culture is equivalent to understanding a foreign language.
  5. It is necessary to convey cultural goods in order for them to be lived.
  6. In cross-cultural contacts, the issue is what occurs when the message producer and the message recipient are from different cultures, which is when the difficulty arises.
  7. Language may serve as a marker of cultural identity, but it can also be used to refer to other occurrences and to refer beyond itself, which is especially true when a specific speaker utilizes it to describe their objectives.
  8. As a result of the interdependence of language and cultural learning, we might infer that language learning is cultural learning, and that language teaching is cultural teaching as a result of this assumption.
  9. Moreover, language serves as a vehicle for the expression and embodiment of other occurrences.
  10. Language may also refer to items that are unique to a certain culture, as indicated by the use of proper names to refer to those objects.
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It is reasonable to infer from the foregoing that language is a component of culture and that we can express cultural beliefs and values through it, and that the particular ways in which one language and its relationship with culture use a given word are unique to that language and its relationship with culture.

The study’s author, Buttjest, asserts that “cultural learning is actually an important aspect in being able to utilize and master a foreign language system.” According to the Bellagio Declaration of the European Cultural Foundation and the International Council for Educational Development, “Knowledge of other countries and their cultures is as important as proficiency in their languages for effective international cooperation, and such knowledge is dependent on foreign language teaching.” Learn to communicate effectively means to learn the social behaviors and cultural practices of a certain civilization.

In a society’s thought and activity, language is a result of that thought and action.

It is possible to consider teaching culture through learners’ own languages, which can be used in a specific way to interpret the other culture (Taylor, 1979).

Last but not least, we can conclude that immersion teaching accelerates the acquisition of cultural knowledge: “.the integration of language and culture learning by using the language as a medium for the continuing socialization of students is a process that is not intended to imitate and replicate the socialization of native-speaker teachers, but rather to develop student’s cultural competence from its existing stage, by changing it into intercultural competence” (Fengping Gao).

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Investigating Cultural Studies in Foreign Language Teaching was published in 1989 by Byran, M., and Sarries, V.

Multilingual Matters is a limited liability company.

Byran’s Cultural Studies in Foreign Language Teaching was published in 1989.


Brannen’s Communication between Japan and the United States was published in 1997.


Dodd, H.D.

Publisher: Wm.c.



Jandt’s Intercultural Communication: An Introduction was published in 2003.


Oatey’s Culturally Speaking: Managing Rapport Through Talk Across Cultures was published in 2000.


Samovar’s Intercultural Communication: A Reader was published in 1986.

Fengping Gao’s article “Japanese: A Heavily Culture-Laden Language” is available online.

Issue 10 of the Journal of Intercultural Communication was published in December 2005. Fatiha Guessabi() is a professor of languages and translation at the Université de Béchar in Algeria, where she is a member of the Literature and Humanities faculty.

language – Language and culture

After all has been established, language is much more than the external manifestation and transmission of interior thoughts that have been developed without the need for vocal representation. In demonstrating the inadequacy and inappropriateness of such a view of language, attention has already been drawn to the ways in which one’s native language is intimately and in all sorts of details related to the rest of one’s life in a community, as well as to smaller groups within that community, has already been drawn to.

Anthropologists are concerned in the relationships that exist between language and culture.

When the term culture is used here, as it is throughout this article, it is used in the anthropological sense to refer to all elements of human existence that are defined or conditioned by one’s affiliation with a particular civilization.

The fact that they eat specific foods and refrain from consuming other substances, even if they are perfectly edible and nourishing, and that they eat and drink at specific times of day and in specific places are all matters of culture, which, according to the classic definition of culture by the English anthropologist Sir Edward Burnett Tylor, is something “acquired by man as a member of society.” As defined and intended here, culture encompasses a vast range of aspects of human existence and behavior, of which language is unquestionably a part, if not the most significant, and of which language is unquestionably a component.

It is true that the ability to learn languages and to communicate with others is innate and inherited, and that there is legitimate debate about the extent to which this innateness exists, but it also true that every individual’s language is “learned by man as a member of society,” along with and at the same time as other aspects of that society’s culture in which people are brought up.

Human language can only have developed in a social setting, no matter how structured that setting may have been, and human society, in any form even remotely resembling what is known today or what has been recorded in history, can only be maintained among people who speak and understand the same language that is in common use.

Transmission of language and culture

Language is passed down through culture, or in other words, it is learnt. When parents, for example, purposefully encourage their children to talk and reply to conversation, correct their mistakes, and expand their vocabulary, this is a lesser degree of maltreatment. However, it should be noted that children learn their first language mostly through “grammar creation,” which occurs as a result of exposure to a random collection of utterances that they come across. That which is referred to as “language teaching” in schools is either geared toward second-language acquisition or, if it concerns the pupils’ first language, it is primarily focused on reading and writing skills as well as literature studies and formal grammar.

All of what is referred to be language education in schools assumes and depends on the past knowledge of a first language in its fundamental vocabulary and structural elements, which is learned before the student reaches the age of majority.

In the same way that animals do not have a history, the fact that humans have is solely due to the development of language.

This does not hinder the accomplishment of quite complicated and large cooperative physical effort, such as the construction of a beaver’s dam or the construction of an ant’s nest, nor does it preclude the intricate social structure of some species, such as bees, from occurring.

No reason to believe that animal behavior has changed significantly during the time span available for the study of human history—roughly the last 5,000 years—except, of course, in cases where human intervention through domestication or other forms of interference has itself brought about such alterations.

  • Bird songs have been recorded to differ somewhat from one location to another within a species, although there is little further evidence of geographic variation in bird songs.
  • The next sections will discuss the mechanisms of linguistic change and the effects of these changes.
  • The vast majority of learnt behavior, which is what culture entails, is communicated by voice teaching rather than imitation, which is by far the most common method.
  • Almost any skill or method, as well as goods or ways of social control, may be described via the use of language, and the final results of someone’s ingenuity can be made available to anybody else who possesses the intellectual ability to comprehend what is being said.
  • The creation and widespread use of writing accelerated this process almost instantly, and the relative permanency of writing made the dissemination of knowledge much more straightforward.

Modern systems for broadcasting or virtually immediate transmission of communication over the world, together with instruments for fast translating between the languages of the world, have made it possible for anyone practically anywhere in the world to gain access to useful information of all kinds.

In the modern world, this is what accounts for the tremendous speed with which scientific, technical, political, and social change occurs. All of this must be traced to the dominant function of language in the transmission of culture, whether it is ultimately beneficial or detrimental to people.

In a Manner of Speaking: How Understanding Culture Impacts Your Language Studies

The equivalent of traveling to the bustling Mexican marketplace depicted above and simply consuming hamburgers from McDonald’s is learning a language without understanding the culture of the country. Is your food going to be alright? Sure. However, you’re missing the point somewhat. You’re not receiving the full effect of the situation. The same may be said about language and culture as well. To truly appreciate a language, it is necessary to comprehend the culture of the people who use it; the two are inextricably linked in their development.

  1. Because it enables us to dive deeper into the meaning of words and expressions, we feel more connected to one another.
  2. Still, you can’t dispute that language is an important aspect of culture, so much so that it has the effect of influencing culture in the same way that culture has the effect on language.
  3. Having answered the question “what language should I learn?” you may go on to the next step.
  4. As I already stated, everything is interconnected.
  5. To obtain a copy, please visit this page.

What Does Language Have to Do with Culture?

Let us consider the function of language in order to provide an answer to this topic. Simply said, language helps us to communicate and exchange information with one another by allowing us to express our ideas and feelings, as well as communicate and share knowledge with one another. When learning a language, it’s important to grasp the culture around it, just as you won’t be able to truly comprehend a culture unless you’ve spent time immersed in the study of their native language. This is due to the fact that language is continually changing and is heavily influenced by the constantly shifting beliefs, values, and conventions of those who speak it.

Language reflects the values and beliefs of a culture

The disparities between two civilizations are fully mirrored in the dialects of their respective languages. Getting to know the subtleties of a language means being able to communicate effectively with individuals who (most likely) grew up with a whole different set of values and views than you do. You must be open to these disparities in values and beliefs. Those divergent values and views might present themselves in a variety of ways. Looking at common expressions and idioms can provide insight into what a society values.For example, just looking at all of the Chinese idioms dealing with family shows us how much importance they place on this relationship and provides us with some information about the family construct and potential dynamics.Or, if you are learning English, you can find many examples of the historical and cultural values reflected in typical English expressions and idioms by simply listening to a conversation.

Such observations might lead an English learner to conclude that courage is a quality that is highly prized in English-speaking communities. However, bravery is not the only relationship that exists between language and culture in English-speaking nations.

Language reflects our perception of the world

Language has an impact on how we see the world, and as a result, it has an impact on how we choose to engage with it. There have been a number of research conducted on this topic. Whenever you inquire about language and perception, linguists will most likely refer you to the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, which holds that the limitations and structure of language govern the thoughts and behaviors of its users. Professor Lera Boroditsky, who has written a comprehensive article on the subject of linguistic relativity, supports this notion with his research.

The results of a study done by Boroditsky revealed that, although English speakers tend to see time horizontally (i.e., the past is behind us or to the left and the future is ahead or to the right), Mandarin speakers tend to view time vertically (i.e., the past is behind us or to the right) (i.e.

Many other researchers have looked at the relationship between bilingualism and personality, and they have discovered that when people switch languages, they also appear to “transform” their personalities to match the language.

It’s really interesting!

Engaging with media made by individuals from a culture’s unique perspective and values is a fantastic method to become more familiar with that culture’s perspective and values.

Historical Perspective: The Link Between the History of a Culture and Its Language

When studying any civilization, it is impossible to overlook the influence of its past. When you understand its history, you may have a better understanding of how and why specific terms evolved to imply what they do now. For example, the Chinese character for “heart” (Xn) is frequently rendered as “heart” in English. However, the term may also relate to one’s emotions and one’s state of mind. The meaning of a word is a key notion in Daoist teachings, and understanding the meaning of a word makes such teachings far more accessible to those who speak Mandarin (which may explain why it has thrived sinceancient times).

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It goes without saying that the deep-rooted meaning of the termXinis something that a Mandarin student should pay close attention to if they are serious about understanding the meanings of the word.

To truly comprehend a language, you must also inquire as to the effect of other civilizations on the language in question.

Watch out for footprints left by other cultures on a language

The English language is an excellent illustration of how cultures and languages can coexist together. The Germanic Anglo-Normans and the Latin-based French effectively laid the groundwork for the development of English as we know it. Knowing everything there is to know about that history will undoubtedly help you better comprehend the meaning of some terms and phrases that have Latin roots, as well as other words that have foreign language origins. English is hardly the only example of a language with a long and illustrious past.

Perhaps you are studying Spanish and are perplexed as to why there are so many words that begin with the letter al.

It is undeniable that the culture’s impact has left a lasting impression.

Keep track of the ever-evolving meaning of words

“Back in my day, the term used to signify. something different,” you’ll hear folks remark very frequently. Words are subject to change. A great deal. Take a quick peek into the field of etymology (the study of word origins and evolution) and you’ll discover that many words were originally used to indicate one thing but now imply something completely different. Prior to the invention of the internet, it was nearly difficult to pinpoint the defining events in the history of these terms. The expanding or collapse of their original meanings tends to occur gradually over time as a result of their widespread use.

  1. Words may change in a variety of ways.
  2. In English, this was initially a phrase used to describe an uneducated male, but over time it evolved into a disparaging term for a woman who is lovely but not particularly brilliant.
  3. The word “awe” comes from the root word “awe,” which used to be identical with the word “dread.” The word retained its negative connotation until the late 1970s, when it began to be used to celebrate extraordinary achievements.
  4. It’s typically not until we look them up or have a non-native speaker point out the weird ways in which these words change that we realize what we’ve missed before.

But what does this entail in the real world on a daily basis? Having addressed the mobility of language and culture across time, let’s look at what this has to do with you and your language-learning endeavors.

How This Understanding Affects Your Language Learning Journey

Better than anything else, your education will assist you in making more informed decisions about the language you use. Being aware of the culture that underpins a language may be extremely beneficial in comprehending the meanings of a term, especially when there is no equivalent in your native language. If you fail to do so, you may find yourself in an unpleasant or offensive situation. Consider the case of a language such as Japanese, which has terms that are deeply associated with the culture.

Askeigo is the term used to describe this.

Going into the process of learning a new language with no expectations or preconceived beliefs is the greatest way to ensure success.

Now that you know why it’s all so important…

So what have we learnt today? Hopefully you can look back at your learning experience with better knowledge about what to alter about your learning techniques or your thinking. We’ve covered how tightly intertwined language and culture is and by association, the necessity of studying the etymology of a language. It doesn’t have to be in-depth but maybe just enough to build a greater knowledge and respect for the idiosyncrasies and laws of the language(s) you’re attempting to learn. How deep is your knowledge of the foreign terms you learned?

When you take that knowledge and use it as you learn the language, single words suddenly have new weight and things you formerly regarded merely quirky and unusual start to makea lotmore sense.

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Saving a language, preserving a culture

Language is important in many ways: spiritually, culturally, and emotionally. Written and spoken words are an art form, and they serve as a means of passing on ideals and traditions from one generation to the next. In the event that a language is lost, a portion of a culture is also gone. When a language is retained, the traditions and practices of the people who speak and understand it continue to exist in the hearts and minds of those who speak and understand it. Language is more than the sum of its parts: it is more than simply sentence structure and syntax; it is also history and conversation, as well as conventions and cultural legacy.

  1. Jennifer Muskrat, Jackson Velarde, Wainwright Velarde, Bea Velarde, and Bob Velarde are shown in the bottom row.
  2. “For us, spirituality is not expressed in the English language; rather, spirituality is expressed in the Apache language.” When people talk about us, we’re portrayed as pagans, which is inaccurate.
  3. In our language, we may find expressions of our traditional ideas of environmental conservation, caring for the elderly, and coexistence with one another and with nature.” Former University of New Mexico student and Jicarilla Apache tribal member Dr.
  4. Melissa Axelrod of the Department of Linguistics to record and preserve the Jicarilla Apache language for future generations of linguistic academics and tribal members.
  5. Their team consists of elders from the Jicarilla Nation, as well as graduate students from the University of New Mexico who will assist with digitizing and archiving.
  6. “For us, spirituality is not expressed in the English language; rather, spirituality is expressed in Apache.
  7. We have the ability to articulate our understanding of spirit and nature in our own language.

And what is the most significant return for everyone involved?

argues Axelrod, “It’s not merely a new translation of the existing text.” It is Veronica and her team’s goal to develop a new writing system that would make it easier for learners to read and understand the language.” “We’re referring to it as ‘user-friendly language,'” Tiller continues.


The Jicarilla Apache’s historical background As a result of their comparable languages and geographic location—the northern United States and the Pacific Coast—the Jicarilla Apache are considered to be descendants of one of the Athabaskan tribes (Southern).

Jicarilla Apache people founded communities in and around the Sangre de Cristo mountains, which are now part of Colorado.

Apache and Jicarilla are both Spanish terms with the latter meaning “small basket,” which was used by the conquistadors following their arrival in the 1500s.

The language of the Jicarilla Apaches is known as Abáachi, and the people are referred to as haisndayin, which means “those who came from below” in their language.

A total of seven Apachean Athabaskan languages exist, which may be classified into two categories: Plains Apache and Southwestern, which includes Diné (Navajo), which is both the most frequently spoken Native American language in the United States and also the most extensively documented.

Anthropological researchers made various attempts to record and translate Native American languages during their careers in the late 1800s and early 1900s, and their efforts resulted in the publication of multiple books.

This is partially due to the fact that they were unfamiliar with the culture, but it is also due to the fact that Apache is primarily a spoken language that incorporates subtlety and gesture, both of which are difficult to document in written form.

Tiller and Axelrod recognize the importance of these works from an anthropological perspective; yet, they believe that most of Goddard’s translations from what Tiller refers to as “old Apache” into English does not accurately represent the cultural meaning and spirit of the original stories.

Pliny Earle Goddard was an American author and poet.

The community will also be empowered to learn to read and write Apache, which will aid in the revitalization of the project.

The project would have been impossible to complete without the help of ten Jicarilla Apache elders, all of whom were fluent native speakers and all of whom had received college educations: Bernice Muskrat, Everett Serafin, Robert Serafin, Wainwright Velarde, Lindberg Velarde, Alberta Velarde, Mary Velarde, Jackson Velarde, and Bob Velarde.

It is also a learning process for everyone involved: the team will make re-translations of previous writings, with an emphasis on accuracy and meaning, while also including socio-cultural context to revive the language, all while learning to read and write Apache.

  • In order to make it easier to read the stories from Goddard’s text, group member and Jicarilla elder Roberta Serafin types the stories in old Apache into a document
  • Member and elder Bernice Muskrat, who is fluent in Apache, reads the stories and, along with Tiller, translates them into the modern dialect of the Jicarilla language. Muskrat then records an audio version of the translation, which is subsequently sent to the other elders in order to continue the Apache-to-English translation. The final translation is approved by the group once it has been completed.

This final phase is a difficult and time-consuming process that takes a long period. Each member brings a unique perspective to the translation—some understand the overall story, some are familiar with the history and pronunciation of specific words, some are fluent in Apache and understand the grammar—and they all must work together to ensure that the translation is accurate and accurate translation is achieved. Tiller estimates that it took around 40 hours to complete the whole right interpretation of the first narrative because “it incorporates so much philosophy, religion, society, and conventions, as well as the way people communicate.” Bringing in elders from the community who are familiar with the language and are a part of the culture is vital for accuracy and cultural preservation if you want to do it correctly.

Axelrod will receive a final translation from them that incorporates all of the combined interpretations—old Apache, written updated Apache, oral Apache, and English—and will archive it.

Indeed, the Jicarilla Apache project just adds to her already extensive knowledge of the electronic archiving of these languages, which she already possesses.

It was first used in the dictionary she edited, Abáachi Mizaa Ilkee’ Shijai: Dictionary of Jicarilla Apache, which has proven to be a vital resource for the team.

This project’s statement that “people are trying to learn this language, but it’s not being offered to them in a way that they can access it,” she adds, struck her as particularly poignant.

Tiller informed me that when people learn Spanish or French, they can go and read a novel or all kinds of papers in the language, and that isn’t the case,” Axelrod adds.

Which I thought was wonderful, as did the colleagues at the National Science Foundation.” In parallel with the efforts of the translation team, Axelrod and UNM linguistics graduate student Mariann Skahan will digitize and archive the complete translations of the stories.

Veronica E.

Tiller A Future Filled with Difficulties and Possibilities Because to the SARS-COV-2 epidemic, a significant portion of the group’s work has been placed on pause.

However, Zoom calls are not always accessible in rural areas, where some team members reside in remote locations with poor internet connectivity.

In New Mexico, COVID-19 has had a particularly destructive impact on Native communities, and this town is no exception to that trend.

As well as continuing this effort, she is also assisting her daughter and her family, understanding that the survival of her language is dependent on programs such as this one.

Both Tiller and Axelrod are optimistic about the project’s future and realize the necessity of finishing this work for the benefit of future generations of researchers and members of the community in general.

There will be an introduction and background to the project, as well as suggestions on how to use the collection; the texts themselves, which will be retranslated and re-transcribed; annotations providing historical and socio-cultural context; recordings of the team meetings; and language lessons developed in conjunction with the translations.

The Mi-goo-ni-di Institute, which was established in May 2019 under the New Mexico Nonprofit Corporation Act, will enlist the assistance of professional linguists, educators, and social scientists to collect and preserve the existing literature on Jicarilla Apache language and culture in order to promote a scientific approach to language preservation.

Nonetheless, it is possible that the significance of this project was best expressed by team members when the project was just getting started: “Bringing back our language means bringing back these concepts and allowing for a new generation to understand our own traditional world views and philosophies,” they said at the time of the project’s inception.

When we reclaim our traditions and our sense of pride, we will be able to enhance the physical well-being of Tribal members.”

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