Interaction of Language and Culture Essay
The Interaction of Language and Culture Language has a deep connection into our daily life and is fundamental to our culture; it’s hard to imagine life without using a language. In fact, language plays a big role when a person is trying to convey his/hers thoughts. Languages are different from one another in innumerable ways, just because people talk differently does not necessarily mean that they think differently. However, according to Edward Spair and Benjamin Whorf, language can shape the way we think, behave, and even see the world around us.
I agree, moreover in my opinion, language not only shapes the way we think but also affects culture; therefore, we can influence languages, and the language can also be influenced by our culture. This results from the structure of each language and the culture differences between each country. First of all, language influences the way people think by the sentences’ structure and grammar forms. Each language has a certain flow that shifts our thoughts into that language’s stereotype of structure.
For instance, when I learned to speak English, I was told that there are about 10 different tenses; I have to somehow change the verb to fit into the right tense. In Chinese, there is no explicit verb tenses, because the Chinese characters don’t have different verb forms, people just say as the meaning of that particular thing. Different language structure could influence our minds in different ways; this is because the language we used to speak will habitually leads us to think in its certain flow.
An example of how language structure affects our thinking is that if I want to invite you to a party in English, people will know the sponsor’s sex by him or her, and also may know something about the timing of the party. Chinese, on the other hand, it usually can not tell from the sponsor’s sex by the spoken Chinese because he/she pronounce the same. Also the exact time of the party maybe blur, since in Chinese the same verb form can be used for present, past or future. However, this does not mean that the Chinese people are unable to understand the timing issue.
But it does mean that they are not used to think about timing when they describe an action. Therefore, different language obliges people to specify certain types of information; changing how people talks can change the way they think. This habituation rooted into our minds, affecting our perceptions, feelings, memories and experience in the world. Secondly, languages can be affected by the culture around us. It is a common sense that if you don’t have a word for something, you can’t talk about it in a certain circumstances.
If one language has certain words that other languages don’t have, then naturally the speaker won’t think the same way as the other speaker. According to Firoozeh’s “The ‘F’ Word” the author was struggling with her “different” name, if we take as an example of this paragraph, is it acceptable that the exotic meaning of the name could not be understand by English speakers; since the Irish culture is different from the American culture and there is no such word called “Firoozeh” in English.
In order to understand of the name “Firoozeh” and to call her, peers have to create lots of substitutes which similar to “Firoozeh”. Besides words, dialect is also an example of how language can also be affected by the culture. In China each part has its own dialect; 56 minorities made up hundreds of different dialects. Each dialect influenced by its own unique historical background and provides its own cognitive flow. For instance, Cantonese tend to be sounds more gentle compared to other dialects.
Maybe because the people in that area don’t eat spicy stuff and their personality probably is less “harsh” than other area’s people. Therefore this shaped the way of how Cantonese people carry out a sentence, and this certain way gradually formed to become the way to speak a dialect. According to Amy Tan’s “Mother Tongue”, Amy mother’s “Chinglish” which informally put Chinese meaning into English is influenced by the Chinese culture around her when she grow up. It is tough for her to convert her brain to fit into another way to think.
It is weird for other people to listen to her speech when she speaks in her own way, but this will make sense to herself. In a word, different languages we speak can profoundly shape the way we think, the way we see the world and the way we live our lives. We can influence the language, and the language can also be influenced by the culture. Since language is central to our experience of being human and humanity has a deep relation to the culture. Therefore I think language and culture could influence by each other, this interaction is determined by the structure of language and the cultural differences.