Language and culture

Language and culture

A language is a set of words that describe our environment and serve people as a communication tool. This definition offers a conventional approach to understanding the concept of oral speech. However, we do not take into account the cultural factor.

Undoubtedly, all the languages absorb the cultural and historical backgrounds of a nation. Through different languages, specific behavior patterns are identified. So, the impact of cultural settings on a language will be the focus of the article today.

There are many indicators of culture in a language. We see them in writing, vocabulary, and methods of communication. This division has been suggested by Kim Edwards, who worked on the problem for years.

One of the examples in his work included peculiarities of translation. Sometimes sentences are hard to convert into another language directly. You must change word order, terms, and sometimes the whole meaning. For example, to ask «How are you?» in Chinese, you say «Is your body good?». That is an excellent representation of different methods of communication. To convey the same meaning, we go alternative ways as accepted forms differ from region to region.

The writing system also tells a lot about one’s perceptions, value sets, and history. And the older the language, the more historical layers it has. The classic example of this is again the Chinese. Chinese characters provide an enormous amount of information into cultural patterns. For example, the character 男 (`nan` means man) consists of two simple parts: field `田` and power `力` So, Chinese citizens associated a man with hard work in the field. And that’s how the word was created.

The vocabulary reflects the life of speakers, especially things with which people interact the most. As consequence, some words do not exist in one language but do exist in others. For instance, Arabic has 12 million words which are 20 times more than English has. Traditional Arabic culture has enriched its language with more precise adjectives and verbs.

To sum up, the relationships between language and culture have always been complex. Every aspect of our daily life can be converted into words. So, it is undeniable that a language is the reflection of us and, of course, our culture.