Language & Expression:
Correlation in the Way We Speak
A language is a cluster of words we learn right? Yes, while the words help you communicate, they are meaningless without context or combination. A common mistake many make is trying to understand a language without understanding its culture.
Think of it as going to the enchanted land of Italy and only eating at a Pizza Hut.
Now, not that there's anything wrong with a pizza from Pizza Hut, however, will you be missing out on the full Italian experience? Absolutely yes!
The same type of ordeal applies to culture and language. When one sets out to understand the culture of a language it allows that person to dwell on each word, each expression. Therefore, allowing them to better relate with a person who is perhaps native to the language or using help of a global language translation service technologies such as Torjoman.
Simply put, it's all connected. Continue reading to find out more about the correlation between culture and how it reflects our pattern of speech and behavior.
What's the Correlation?
So what is the direct correlation between culture and language? To understand that we first need to better understand what purpose a language holds.
Language is what we use to express ourselves. It allows us to convey thoughts, project our feelings. More so, it gives us the chance to share knowledge.
Better yet, think of it like this - you won't understand a culture without familiarizing yourself with its language, and vice-versa you cannot begin to comprehend a new language without being aware of the cultural emotions behind each word.
A Deeper Connection
The best way to understand the differences between two cultures is to look at their languages. In order to truly call yourself a master of any particular language, you have to first understand a value of beliefs that a native individual holds. Only then you may manifest all the small nuances of the language.
But how does one come about these sets of values? A look into the cultures' common expressions and idioms can give one a better understanding.
An example of this can be seen in the various idioms in the Chinese language where they all primarily deal with family structure and potential dynamics. Whereas, in the English language there's a lot of talk about bravery.
A Reflection of Our Perception
Any vernacular we use is a direct reflection of what we believe, therefore it has a direct implication on how we see and interact with society.
Language professor Lera Boroditsky conducted an experiment where she determined that people who speak English view time horizontally, whereas people who spoke Mandarian view time vertically. Now you must be thinking, what in the world does that mean? Boroditsky implies that English speakers think the past is behind us or to the left and the future is ahead or to the right. Whereas, a native Mandarian speaker may view the order of events from top to bottom.
More interesting, further studies indicate that people who often speak two languages have shown to ’switch’ personalities when switching between two languages. They might be not aware of this ’switch’ themselves but it happens when the speakers associate a certain style with a particular language.
Another aspect we cannot overlook is history’s role in a language. The Mandarian language for example, sees a strong presence of Daotists teachings allowing it thrive since the ancient times. We used the word 心 (Xīn) as a prime example. This work is often directly translated to “heart” in English, however in Mandarian it can refer to one's mind and emotions.
This also explains why sometimes those one-off words exist in certain languages. But there is also another determining factor.
Lasting Impressions Made By Others
The English language is truly the melting pot of languages and cultures. The Germanic Anglo-Normans and Latin-based French essentially planted the seed for English as we know it to grow. By doing some further investigation you may also find why some words are of Latin origin while some are of other foreign descent.
This holds true for most Romance languages. You will see a Latin root words that have been built upon throughout European history.
Another language we can see a lasting historical footprint is Spanish. Due to the Islamic conquests, you'll see the use of ’al’ in the Spanish language. Also, there are a lot of other words in Spanish that get their base root from the Arabic language.
Words change constantly. Today we have words such as bae, vibe, yeet. If you show these words to someone from 100 years ago they will not have the slightest idea in which context to even begin to use them.
Similarly, if you look at the word ’bimbo’ in today's language it reflects a derogatory comment for a not so bright woman. However, that was not always the case. The word originates from the Italian word ’bambino’ which means little child but when originally translated into English is meant, unintelligent man.
The case is that you never know when the definition of a word will change unless you look it up on the Internet or some native speaker points it out.
Counterparts Do Not Exist
When understanding another language it's important to understand that there are languages that do not have a direct transition. Arabic and Japanese are two prime examples. In the Japanese language, many words are closely affiliated with Japanese culture but some do not have a direct English counterpart. Also, the Japanese language does not have formal and informal forms, these are known as keigo.
What can we take away from this? Did we answer the age-old question of does culture truly reflect the way we speak and behave?
We believe it is safe to say, yes.
That being said, what's vital to remember is that a language is more than just mere words. There's emotion, history, and there's a whole belief system. Therefore, to avoid yourself from a rather embarrassing situation it's wise to understand a language in all its glory.