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Culture and Language in Society

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Introduction

Culture and Language in Society In a world that is rapidly moving toward a predominantly technological and uniformed system, language and culture are becoming increasingly crucial to defining an individual. For many people, culture still completely dictates their way of life, as is evident in many religions, such as Hinduism, where the line between religious traditions and everyday life is blurred. Just as Henry Trueba can be quoted in Afforming Diversity, Whatever knowledge we acquire, it is always acquired through language and culture, two interlocked symbolic systems considered essential for human interaction and survival. Culture and language are so intricately intertwined that even trained scholars find it impossible to decide where language ends and begins, or which one of the two impacts the other the most (189). Without language, culture would be, as Trueba stated, virtually non-existent, as certain emotions can only be conveyed in certain languages. The same holds true for language, as it is often impossible to translate texts while retaining the same literary and emotional connotations the original version contained because certain words only exist in those languages. Moreover, language, especially in literature, leaves much up to interpretation, and translations often omit any ambiguity that the author may have originally intended. When searching for English versions of Fyodor Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment, several versions are available, each translated by different individuals. ...read more.

Middle

Much of the vocabulary accumulated in languages is a direct result of cultural practices, traditions and innovations. Each time a new revolution in society or technology takes place, a string of new words is developed. It is estimated that a few dozen new words are added to the English language alone each year. 1 Common words such as "television," "Internet," and "telephone" would have meant nothing two short centuries ago. The word "silhouette" only came into existence after the French Minister of Finance under Louis XV, Etienne de Silhouette, began decorating his office with cheap, black paper cutouts. Back then, the word was associated with stinginess, as the people felt oppressed by the strict financial measures he set on the French in order to replenish the treasury, which had suffered as a result of wars with Britain and Prussia. 2 Today, however, the word is often used to described stylish, chic products, and can be found on cars like the Oldsmobile Silhouette, and shoes, such as Silhouette, a Dutch shoe store. As culture develops, language, too, must evolve to accommodate the new changes as people feel the need to identify objects and feelings with words. A person's way of utilizing language can also tell a lot about his/her cultural background. ...read more.

Conclusion

To translate it literally, however, the same phrase would be "May the people of the world live for 10,000 years." Though the general meaning is the same, slight differences still exist. Language and culture are inextricably linked in defining an individual, society and nation. Without one, the other would cease to exist as we know it. Simply by listening to the language, or even a dialect, a person speaks, one can often tell a lot about their cultural background. Generally speaking, the Californian accent shows that the person is most likely laid back and easy going, while the Southern drawl may depict a person's tendency to take things slowly. As it would be unlikely to find a member of the social elite speaking Ebonics (Black English), it would be safe to assume that the individual who speaks the dialect is from an urban environment, and is culturally aware of the urban scene. Just as Trueba had states, there is no division at which language ends and culture begins, as they continue in a cycle with one completing the other. In order to understand ourselves better, we must first understand our heritage, which is composed largely of language and culture. To find a definite distinction between the two would be impossible and would call for a change to language and culture as we presently know it. 1 "Right matters 1." <http://tlsmarketing.com/matters/mm122.htm> 2 "Mr. Silhouette." < http://www.nzgirl.co.nz/articles/482> 3 "The History of the Original Ku Klux Klan." <www.kukluxklan.org> ...read more.

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