Cultural Function of Language

Culture Function of Language Aynur Huseynaliyeva (magistr) Aynur. [email protected] com Qafqaz universiteti People from different cultures have different world views that are reflected in their language. Culture is said to be the beliefs and values that are used to manage people’s life in a particular society and people use the language in the society to express the different views in the community. So person’s view depends on the culture. A person expresses his view, mind using the language that has been developed by his culture.

According to Sapir, culture is a set of beliefs and practices which govern the life of a society for which a particular language is the vehicle of expression (quoted in Damen 1964; p. 61). That’s why our views are dependent on our culture that influences to our mind and way of thinking, as well as we express our thoughts using the language which is formed by that culture. Understanding of culture is possible by means of language. Emmitt and Pollock (1997) argued that even though people are brought up under similar behavioral backgrounds or cultural situations but however speak different languages, their world view may be very different.

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According to Sapir-Whorf, different thoughts are brought about by the use of different forms of languages. One language doesn’t give enough possibilities to speaker to express his/her ideas properly the other language is open for speaker to find plenty of ways of describing thoughts. It basically depends on the culture rules and culture restrictions. Therefore people who share a culture but speak different languages will have quite unlike world views. However language is shaped in culture and culture is reflected and passed on by language from one generation to the other. Emmitt and Pollock 1997) The power of language to reflect culture and influence thinking was first proposed by an American linguist and anthropologist, Edward Sapir (1884–1939), and his student, Benjamin Whorf (1897–1941). The Sapir–Whorf hypothesis stated that the way we think and view the world is determined by our language (Anderson & Lightfoot, 2002; Crystal, 1987; Hayes, Ornstein, & Gage, 1987). Language was viewed by American linguists and anthropologists as eing more important than it actually is in shaping our perception of reality. The study of the role of languages in the social lives of individuals and community is anthropological linguistics, which investigates the relationship between language and culture. Culture and language are indispensible for our life. “Culture is a grand total including custom and religion inherited by society, which decides the organization of our life” (Sapir 221). “Language is a system of arbitrary vocal symbols used for human communication” (Zuowen and Chaohong 3).

Language is an important part of culture. However, the relationship between language and culture is more complicated than the relationship of a part and the whole. As Kluckhohn claims, human culture without language is unthinkable (quoted in Damen 1944; p. 26). In addition, Sapir claims that we may think of language as the symbolic guide to culture (quotetd in Damen 1964; p. 70). Consequently, language is derived in culture and culture is reflected and passed on from one generation to the next only by means of language.

Wenying Jiang in his article ‘The relationship between culture and language” presents three new metaphors relating to culture and language, and explores cultural content in specific language items through a survey of word associations. This author’s understanding of language and culture is conveyed through the following three new metaphors: 1. From a philosophical view: Language and culture makes a living organism; language is flesh, and culture is blood. Without culture, language would be dead; without language, culture would have no shape. 2.

From a communicative view: Communication is swimming, language is the swimming skill, and culture is water. Without language, communication would remain to a very limited degree (in very shallow water); without culture, there would be no communication at all. 3. From a pragmatic view: Communication is like transportation, language is the vehicle and culture is traffic light. Language makes communication easier and faster; culture regulates, sometimes promotes and sometimes hinders communication. In a word, language and culture, as different as they are, form a whole. ELT Journal Volume 54/4 October 2000 © Oxford University Press 2000; p. 328-329) It is impossible to imagine any culture without language, language can be viewed as a verbal expression of culture and it is the way for culture to realize. It is used to maintain and convey culture and cultural ties. Language is heavily influenced by culture – as cultures come up with new ideas, they develop language components to express those ideas. A culture must have at least one language, which it uses as a distinct medium of communication to convey its defining ideas, customs, beliefs, etc. from one member of the culture to another member.

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Cultural Function of Language. (2016, Sep 23). Retrieved from