Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Language and Culture

Source: ams.usda.gov

Language and Culture are connected to each other as much as a chicken is to an egg.

Language is the principal means whereby we conduct our social lives. When it is used in contexts of communication, it is bound up with culture in multiple and complex ways. To begin with, words people utter refer to common experience. They express facts, ideas or events that are communicable because they refer to a stock of knowledge about the world that other people share.

Culture, on the other hand, refers to what has been grown and groomed (from the Latin colere: to cultivate). The words culture evokes the traditional nature/nurture debate. Are human beings mainly what nature determines them to be from birth or what culture enables them to become through socialization and schooling?
Source: Language and Culture, Claire Kramsch, 1998, Oxford, p. 3-5

To examine our language, then, is also to examine our values, norms, and standards.
All of us who wish to improve relations across cultures and groups of people must be concerned with the effects on others of they way we talk and write. To communicate effectively, we must consider the feelings and perspective of the audience we're addressing, just as we hope that audience will consider our own perspective.

You ask yourself about the way you think, and the way you think about others, through the language you use.


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