The cultural practices of different communities cannot exist or be understood if they are not communicated. Therefore, language is the most important tool in the growth and understanding of one’s culture. The ideas carried in a certain culture can only be communicated to the whole world through that society’s language of communication.
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Culture on the other hand has a big influence in the contents of the language used in that society. This is the reason why same words might have very different and even conflicting meanings. Separation of a language from its culture might therefore be of adverse effect.
Study of a foreign language without studying the foreign culture does not give the learner the full satisfaction. The learner does not get a chance to experience the interrelationship of the two. It becomes hard to bring out the desired ideas when the learner communicates in the foreign language, as there is no natural connection between the two.
In his work, Leveridge (2008,) tells of his experience as an English teacher in Taiwan where the culture advocated for individualism unlike English that involve active participation of all parties. Failure to understand the culture of a certain language can lead to frustration and in some cases; it has led to depression and even suicide.
Different cultures in most cases have one language used to convey their ideas and to pass the culture from one generation to another. When a child is born in such a society, interaction with the members of the society through communication gives the child the components of the society’s culture.
The child understands the culture through various terms some of which are unique to that culture. For instance, if a culture is based on farming, most likely that culture’s language will have many words describing various farm tools, seasons, and plants.
On the other hand, if it is based on animal keeping or hunting, many terms referring to animals will be characteristic of that culture’s language. Just as it affects the language, culture also has a big influence in one’s point of view in various issues affecting the world. The culture that one grows up in moulds one’s way of thinking and reasoning.
Depending on the culture that a language is based on, various terms might have very different meanings. The Romans did not have a word for a woman as a man’s friend because to them, this was impossible.
The use of the word dog differs completely between the European culture and the Chinese culture. In Europe, a dog is a friend while in some parts of the world the word may be an insult or even food. Therefore, diversity in cultures also means diversity in languages used.
This therefore calls for understanding of both and not one. In China, delivering an apology requires use of many polite words than it would be in English. This is because Chinese culture places politeness at a higher level that English does.
In conclusion, it is clear that culture and language are two inseparable elements. A culture cannot be understood and passed on to future generations if it does not have a language characterizing that culture. On the other hand, culture has a great influence in development of a language as it determines most of the words in that language. It is therefore of great importance to understand both the language and the culture.
Leveridge, A. (2008).The relationship between language & culture and the Implications for language teaching. TEFL.net. Retrieved from <https://www.tefl.net/elt/articles/teacher-technique/language-culture/>