Thisstudy will have an in-depth insight into the study of culture basedon the language and the effects of learning a language on culture.The comparisons will be drawn from four reviewed articles done bydifferent authors in the second volume of Baltic Journal of EnglishLanguage, Literature and Culture.
Cultureand language are closely knit and are to some extent not separable.Language refers to the specific mode of communication or expression,regardless of the means used. A language may employ the use of words,gestures, symbols and even signs so long as the intended informationis passed. Culture on the other hand refers to the values, beliefsand norms held to by a particular group of people, and which ischaracterized by being inherent. Despite the likelihood distortionand dynamism of culture, it is highly transferable from one group ofpeople to another and from one generation to the other. Culture isknown to be inherent through language. It is through language thatculture is transmitted from a group to the other or from a generationto another. Language can therefore be regarded as a carrier and ameans of preserving culture as it waits to be transmitted to the nextgroup.
Thelearning of any new language doubles up as a learning of a newculture. The meaning of a word may differ from one language to theother depending on the cultural use. For instance, a word that isconsidered to be extremely vulgar in British English may be viewed asjust alright for use in an ordinary situation in American English.Considering that language is a carrier of culture, learning of a newlanguage demands that you also learn their culture and the registerunder which certain words may be used. Diction and register areimportant aspects of a language, but again very much dependent on themother language. The interdependence indicates that a culture ishighly intertwined with language thus the proof of why language andculture are inseparable.
Inan attempt to acquire a new language, effective communication isemphasized and which refers to interpretation of the encoded messageexactly as the sender had intended it to be. The effective decodingof a message requires that one clearly understands the cultural use.The words or gestures may mean something different from one’smother language and interpreting it in own’s original languagemight be a barrier to effective communication. It is the culture in agiven language that dictates its semantics, whether conceptual orlexical. A statement becomes semantically correct if it makes somecognitive sense. Again, lexical semantics must be put in place whilealso adhering to the conceptual semantics. The parameters to gauge ifa statement makes both lexical and conceptual semantics are solelydependent on the cultural use.In Anna Duszak’s article,globalization is seen to have vastly affected culture. Globalizationrefers to a situation where an aspect spreads over vast geographicalareas globally. Language has largely globalized, thus spreading itsculture to other global regions. According to her, globalization hasplayed a big role in enforcement of culture and language. Thesituation enjoys a strength point in that there has been vast spreadof language in the technological realm which has made it very easy tolearn new languages and as well translate the language that one donot understand to the language that they are conversant with throughthe assistance of technology. This as been in particular beennecessitated by the global market and which mainly puts into use whatmay be referred to as core and widespread languages globally.Anopportunity is created when action scenarios are included inglobalization. The vast spreading of language is instrumental incoming up with the implementation of a successful functioning of thelanguage in making an individual’s social space profitable. Someopportunities will only come along the way of an individual who islocated in the social space through learning and getting to know theusage and meaning of a language and its cultural stipulations. Thisway, the culture determines the extent of involvement and alsocreates a huge gap between those who understand the language and itsculture and those who do not understand it. This aspect leads toglocalization. The word is coined from two words ‘global’ and‘local’. It occurs when there is increased interaction betweenthe global population and the locals.
Asa result, there has been a weakness in that the global language hasbeen taking over and slowly diminishing the use of local languagesand their cultural perspectives. For instance, in the Central andEastern Europe region, English as a language has undermined any otherdominant language. It has also resulted to drastic changes in theeducation policies as training in languages has been beefed up. Inspecific, the training is on foreign languages purposely forprofessional success. It has been deemed that for one to drasticallygrow in their perspective careers, they ought to train on thepurported foreign languages due to the demand for knowledge-basedsociety. At long run, the dominant languages and their culturalperspective slowly starts diminishing as they continue to learn andget more accustomed to the new language and its cultural meaning(Duszak).
Inthe next article under review, the power of rhetoric vested on howone is conversant with the language is highlighted. The articlemainly focuses on the points of weakness in academic skills when oneis using English as a foreign language. The ability of one toadequately follow the academic instructions in essays and the extentof communication effectiveness is highly pegged on how well one isconversant with the language of use and its cultural meaning. Thistherefore indicates that in regards to English academic essays andwhose examiner is of English culture, it is likely that nativeEnglish will score higher than a person who has learnt English as asecond language.
Argumentativeessays have in particular brought out the difference. In such anessay, the level to which one convinces the examiner is vital.Rhetoric prowess is here put into practice and is based on thecultural meaning. The rhetorical pattern exhibited by the English asforeign language students has been seen to be problematic as theirunderstanding of the intended culture is quite different with whatthey understand. As such, the students are likely to base theargumentation on their native language which again, will not be inline with the requirements by the examiner.
Thestrength of culture is that academic writing requires that a studentstrictly adhere to certain structures and schemata that are expectedin the target culture. It therefore creates an opportunity for thestudents to see the dire need of learning the culture of the specificlanguage being used. Depending on the knowledge of the culturecontained in a language, a student is able to remain in the rightcontext. It also promotes coherence. The sentences are able to followa logical sequence and observing the need for semantics thuspromoting effective communication. The revelation behind this is thatunderstanding a language involves more than just knowing how tofluently read or write it but rather the combination of the fluencyand knowledge of the cultural context(Farneste).
InKarapetjana and Rozina’s article in the same journal, culture in alanguage is emphasized as a major component of effectiveinterpersonal skills. The use of culture in a language brings out theaspect of linguistic politeness. However, there exists a weakness inthat different languages have different cultural bearings and assuch, what is polite in one language may be impolite in another. Ifone learns a new language, they are likely to try to push the politeaspect of it into the new language which may not auger well with theaudience. The authors give an example of the Latvian language userswho often seem to import their speech acts and politeness strategiesinto the new language which ends up in serious sociopragmaticfailure. However, all is not lost in that there exists an opportunitywhereby indirect requests and politeness strategies may beeffectively used to communicate at the expense of the direct requests(Karapetjana and Rozina).
Inthe final article, global languages are seen as diluting the dominantones. For instance, English as a global language is seen to have anegative impact upon the Latvian language. The semantic spheres havebeen highly affected. According to the author, the exponential growthof English has led to the change of about eight hundred conceptualand lexical units of the Latvian language for the past two hundredyears. Fortunately, English language has been instrumental in most oftheir undertakings regardless of whether it is second language,foreign language or lingua franca. This has been a point of strengthin that their familiarisation with the global language has helpedtrace them on the global market. Further, the language dominates thelinguistic opportunity of human beings globally thus offering anopportunity for the Latvian natives to actively take part in theglobal community(Veisbergs).
Thefour reviewed articles bring into perspective the effects of languageand culture and the reason as to why the two entities areinseparable. The cultural contexts of any language are the keydeterminants of the effectiveness of communication. Therefore,learning of a new language must be closely followed by the urge tolearn the cultural context of the language.
Duszak,A. “Regional: A Lost Dimension?” BalticJournal of English Language, Literature and Culture2 (2012): 29-41.
Farneste,Monta. “Usage of Comparison/Contrast Pattern in UndergraduateAcademic Essays.” BalticJournal of English Language, Literature and Culture2 (2012): 42-53.
Karapetjana,Indra and Gunta Rozina. “Politeness Strategies in ElectronicCommunication The Speec Act of Request.” BalticJournal of English Language, Literature and Culture2 (2012): 63-71.
Veisbergs,Andrejs. “Semantic Changes in Latvian Under the Influence ofEnglish.” BalticJournal of English Language, Literature and Culture2 (2012): 103-121.