Topics in Language and Culture essay

Everyone has the capacity to learn a language and as per Chomsky language is innate and found in each and every one of us. It is not acquired and even learnt but it naturally comes to everyone. Language Acquisition Device was believed to be found in the brain as a major part that language is biological. Critical Period Hypothesis is believed that language is more of a innate biological factor than an external influence on a person. This hypothesis states that children must learn a language before the start of puberty or they will not be successful at all.

(Brown & Eisterhold, 15-17) 2) Apes and other animals can communicate with one another but it is widely disputed that these animals have a language or a language of their own. Human language has a lot of features that distinguishes it as a language. Such as duality, productivity, displacement, meta-language, and the cultural transmission are fundamental to human language which are not at present nor found in the animal kingdom. (Brown & Eisterhold, 17)

The difference between viewing culture as transmitted knowledge and culture as negotiated is that the former is learned and transmitted from one generation to another and is arbitrary. Culture transmitted is more of a too that becomes the structure which the language is based on as well as setting peoples perspective. Transmittal of culture is that it has two parts which are propositional and procedural knowledge. Propositional knowledge is the norms and ideas which are found in a culture.

Where as procedural knowledge knows how to act within a specific situation. Culture negotiated is more on the result of human interaction that takes place which does not only include acting within the societal norms but to also analyze the meaning whenever one acts in a given situation as also stated by Vygotsky in his Zone of Proximal Development. (Brown & Eisterhold, 21-23) 4) Sapir-Whorf hypothesis stating that there is a connection between language and culture.

This hypothesis is divided into two which are linguistic relativity and linguistic determinism. Linguistic relativity states that there are no two languages that are alike with regards to words, structures, syntax, and etc. Linguistic determinism that states that languages determines thought. More on a basic level, Sapir-Whorf hypothesis is believed that language influences but not determine. (Brown & Eisterhold, 23-24) 5) Language and culture are not the only factors that explain human behavior.

In fact there are numerous factors that define human behavior such as social norms, mores, traditions, external factors such as external and acquired knowledge and influences as well an ever changing societal view and environmental factors. 6) Critical Period Hypothesis – A hypothesis that states that children must learn a language before puberty starts and that language acquisition, for children, will be harder after or on the onset of puberty. (Brown & Eisterhold, 16)

Competence/Performance (Internal/External Language) – Competence is the innate knowledge of the ability to correct one’s own native language. Performance is the actual use of the language. (Brown & Eistehold, 16-17) Language – Language is the generally used socially and politically. Dialect – Language used in a particular region. Schema – a language.


Brown, Steven & Eisterhold, Jodi (2004). Topics in Language and Culture for Teachers. pp. 15-25