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What is the Relationship Between Language and Culture?

Content relationship between language and culture

It’s impossible to imagine a culture without language, and backward. People who live in a certain area share their common set of beliefs, cultural values, and language, even if it is a minor dialect. That is why we can surely say that there is a close relationship between language and culture. This article will tell about the role of culture and language and their importance.

What is Culture?

It is hard to determine what is culture. There are lots of definitions in the world dictionaries which try to scale this phenomenon because it is broad and has multifaceted nature. Usually, people believe that culture consists of basic assumptions, values, patterns of behavior, attitudes, and beliefs of a certain group of people. They are usually limited by a certain geographical region and have set characteristics for individual members which may also act as a group or adopt culture individually. Individuals learn culture from a group where they were born and pass it on to the other members of society. We can say that the culture is being constantly created by each of the members who share a set of patterns.

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The word “culture” itself has Latin origins. It came from the word “colere,” which means to grow from the earth. So, certain cultures also “grow” from land and people who create it. The importance of language and culture is great, as culture may create traditions, religion, cuisine, arts, and fashion. However, its innate factors are the most important because culture tells people who they are by implicit code of behavior and set of shared beliefs. However, it’s worth noting that culture may be different for people within a certain group. Because people have different characteristics as personalities, they see culture through different lenses, which still means that they are members of the same cultural group.

Why is Language an Important Part of Culture?

On the other hand, language is more material than culture. It is a system that people use to communicate. It consists of sound and written elements that are used by people of particular territory for communication with each other. Language appears to be more of an exact science because it has a certain set of characters, rules, grammar, and so on. Still, there are wide relationships between language and culture. The language is initially learned from language surrounding like parents and peers, and later some of its aspects like writing or rules are learned at schools. Specified teaching is important for language because even in the case of native language, it has to be learned. To fully master it, you need to write, listen, speak, and read using the language.

With the help of language, we share ideas and interact with each other. The history of languages is vast and interesting because some of them evolved from others many years ago, which may be seen in their patterns and constructions nowadays. Still, it is hard to say which one was the first, and how exactly it was formed. Nowadays, we can see how languages evolve into each other if we look at Spanish in Spain and Latin America. It is different because people who brought Spanish to South America where they developed their settlements and started to live on new territory which led to changes in the language.

What is the Connection between Language and Culture?

Rita Mae Brown said: “Language is the Roadmap to Culture.” Indeed, language and culture are closely intertwined, as in some cases, they mean the same. There is a complex relationship between them because they are tied to each other. A child learns culture simultaneously with language, so for them, it is the same. They are indivisible parts because even when members of a certain culture go abroad, they are easy to recognize if they speak the local language and vice versa. Another point is, when people learn a new language, it also means learning a new culture. For example, there may be words for phenomena that don’t exist in the country of the learner. The Japanese language has the word “komorebi,” which means a phenomenon when sunlight is filtered through the leaves. So, with this word, a learner will get a Japanese approach to nature and beauty. The relationship between language and culture is very strong in this example.

Why is language an important part of culture?

It’s impossible to experience the culture without knowing the language because they are closely linked in people’s mindsets. That is why when people learn a new language, they often read authentic texts, visit countries, and speak with natives. They read about the country, its customs, and beliefs. Such learners usually achieve high results because they have an all-round approach to culture and language which always go hand in hand. The same goes for translation because a good specialist will always know the culture of the target country, for example, French document translation will demand a different approach than the Arabic one. Usually, translators are strict with cultures because the smallest word or “innocent” joke can offense people of the target language.

What Appeared First, Culture or Language?

It is hard to say how is language related to culture in terms of the time of creation. There are reasons to say that they appeared simultaneously. For example, scientists say that people did not develop a language for one day, and top theories say that words came from simple sounds that were meant to show the essence of things. That is why language is filled with onomatopoeia created words. The process of language creation was steady and slow. On the other side, culture didn’t form fast either. People who lived together at one territory began to share thoughts, create things, clothes, believe in the same gods. Simultaneously, the language evolved and became more advanced, which provoked the new wave of cultural development.

How do language and culture influence each other?

As people often don’t know what appeared first, culture or language, they don’t know what is more important for them, language or culture. However, if you understand the culture, it may help you in learning and backward. If a traveler heads to another culture, they learn main customs and traditions, as well as few words to get by. The same happens with each of us when we want to experience a new culture or language, so it doesn’t matter which aspect appeared first. It’s hard to imagine that they developed on their own because they have so much in common.

How Culture and Language Influence Our Identity

What role does language play in cultural identity? Scientists guess that language influences the way we think because it shapes our thoughts in a different forms. If we imagine the language as a puzzle, we will have to create our speech from small matching pieces. However, for the other language, pieces will be different, and we will create a different picture. This way, language can influence our behavior and word choice. Some studies suggest that our personality may change depending on the language we speak. We connect the language with the culture associated with it, which impacts us greatly.

Intercultural communication is an example of this phenomenon. When people from different cultures meet and try to speak each other’s languages, they broaden their horizons by borrowing and sharing culture. Intercultural interactions are especially strong in the globalization age because they enrichen each of the participants and mutually change each other’s worldview. Culture and languages tell us how to interact with other people, and also tell us which ethics and values we spread. We do not say this with the help of words, but language helps us shape what we have to tell. It is easy for us to translate our intrinsic values dictated by culture. A blend of culture and language determines how we speak, think, and interact with other people.

Importantly, culture makes us differentiate socially. It is a part of our personality, but personality can change over time. Language and culture are intertwined and can change, too. For example, people from Europe who immigrated to the United States, started to speak American English because they wanted to be a part of a big American community. However, they also lived in closely-knit groups of the same origin, for example, the Irish settled and lived together. They continued to speak their native language at home to avoid assimilation.

Such behavior gave interesting results, for example, the best pharmaceutical or technical translation company could start from family-owned businesses by members of a certain nationality. Indeed, culture defines who we are, and losing even the smallest part of our personality is painful.

Culture and Language Diversity

From the first sign, culture and language unify the community. However, there are signs of them otherwise. Within the same culture and language group, people of different ages may have different beliefs and ways of speaking. Younger people usually have different interests, they more eagerly adopt something new, including neologisms and terms from abroad. Older people are more set in their ways and use more standardized, sometimes archaic language. Moreover, several nations can bear the same culture.

In the globalization age, cultural and linguistic diversity is especially important. Cultures may spread worldwide and make people learn new languages, do business, and travel. The more languages the person learns, the more they become the “citizens of the world” who know about many countries and mindsets of people there. However, each culture may be assimilated if more mainstream and popular cultures capture the minds of people. This presents cultural issues and language learning which can influence them. That’s why ethnic groups need to share and safeguard their linguistic and cultural diversity.

Many countries of the Arab world differ, but they have certain shared values and language features for their geographical region. These national traits always stay and help people distinguish strangers and members of the community. Moreover, within each country, there exist dialects that reflect the realities of people living in different conditions. If the country encompasses several geographical zones, people are likely to develop several dialects. That happens because they live in a closed space far from other groups and start to develop neologisms even if they are in the same country. Germany may be an example of such a country because there are two distinct dialects that sometimes sound like two different languages for foreigners. Is language a part of culture in these cases? Surely, yes.

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The Last Word

The question of language and culture, their relations, and whether one of them appeared earlier, are eternal. Linguists around the world have many theories on how is language related to culture. Language and culture unify a certain group of people but also leave the space for creativity, which creates a unique blend of characteristics for every citizen. The clash of cultures in the modern world, cultural enrichment, and globalization spread culture worldwide with the help of language. The mission of TheWordPoint as a translation service is to unite people by bridging them with the help of languages.