Relationship between language and culture theory

relationship between language and culture theory

The relationship between language and culture is complex yet one is a part of the other. You learn the culture once you start learning a. Many of the assumptions, theories and goals of modern relationship between language and culture, and if so, what the relationship between language and. to separate language and culture, one has to question the validity and implications such separation brings. This relationship are discussed as they pertain to language education and . another theory that claims all people approach the.

Language policy must be used to create awareness and understandings of cultural differences, and written to incorporate the cultural values of those being taught. Implications for language teaching Teachers must instruct their students on the cultural background of language usage.

If one teaches language without teaching about the culture in which it operates, the students are learning empty or meaningless symbols or they may attach the incorrect meaning to what is being taught.

The students, when using the learnt language, may use the language inappropriately or within the wrong cultural context, thus defeating the purpose of learning a language. Conflict in teaching styles also stem from the relationship between language and culture. During the past decade, I have taught English in Taiwan and have observed a major difficulty in English instruction brought about by teachers and suffered by students.

Western English teachers who teach in Taiwan bring along with them any or all of their teaching and learning experiences. From this, they bring with them what they imagine to be appropriate teaching methodology. Pennycook continues by pointing out that student centered learning is unsuitable for Chinese students. The students may not know how to react to this different style of learning. A case in point, when at the beginning of my teaching career in Taiwan, I found it very easy to teach English, but very difficult to get the students to interact with me while I was teaching.

Teaching was very easy because the students were well behaved and very attentive. The difficulties surfaced when trying to get the students to interact with me, their teacher. At the time, I did not realize that in Taiwan, it was culturally unacceptable for students to interact with their teacher.

Language and Culture - Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Communication

The Taiwanese students were trained to listen to what the teacher said, memorize it, and later regurgitate it during an exam. The classroom setting had to be changed to a much less formal setting to coax out student interaction. The language classes taught using this style proved to be most beneficial to the students with an overall increase in the grade point average.

Because language is so closely entwined with culture, language teachers entering a different culture must respect their cultural values. As Englebert describes: As Spence argues, success and failure in a Chinese cultural framework influences not just oneself but the whole family or group. Therefore, teachers must remember to respect the culture in which they are located.

Language teachers must realize that their understanding of something is prone to interpretation. The meaning is bound in cultural context. One must not only explain the meaning of the language used, but the cultural context in which it is placed as well. Often meanings are lost because of cultural boundaries which do not allow such ideas to persist. As Porter argues, misunderstandings between language educators often evolve because of such differing cultural roots, ideologies, and cultural boundaries which limit expression.

Language teachers must remember that people from different cultures learn things in different ways. For example, in China memorization is the most pronounced way to study a language which is very unlike western ideologies where the onus is placed on free speech as a tool for utilizing and remembering vocabulary and grammar sequences Hui When a teacher introduces language teaching materials, such as books or handouts, they must understand that these will be viewed differently by students depending on their cultural views Maley For instance, westerners see books as only pages which contain facts that are open to interpretation.

This view is very dissimilar to Chinese students who think that books are the personification of all wisdom, knowledge and truth Maley One should not only compare, but contrast the cultural differences in language usage. Visualizing and understanding the differences between the two will enable the student to correctly judge the appropriate uses and causation of language idiosyncrasies.

For instance, I have found, during my teaching in Taiwan, that it is necessary to contrast the different language usages, especially grammatical and idiom use in their cultural contexts for the students to fully understand why certain things in English are said. Thank you, and you? This question was very difficult to answer, until I used an example based in Chinese culture to explain it to them.

relationship between language and culture theory

One example of this usage: It was culturally and possibly morally significant to ask someone if they had eaten upon meeting. This showed care and consideration for those around you. Even now, people are more affluent but this piece of language remains constant and people still ask on meeting someone, if they have eaten. If someone in a western society was greeted with this, they would think you are crazy or that it is none of your business.

It has enabled them to differentiate between appropriate and inappropriate circumstances of which to use English phrases and idioms that they have learnt. Valdes argues that not only similarities and contrasts in the native and target languages have been useful as teaching tools, but when the teacher understands cultural similarities and contrasts, and applies that knowledge to teaching practices, they too become advantageous learning tools.

Implications for language policy Creators of second language teaching policies must be sensitive to the local or indigenous languages not to make them seem inferior to the target language.

Language and Culture

English language teaching has become a phenomenon in Southeast Asia, especially in Taiwan. Most Taiwanese universities require an English placement test as an entry requirement Information for Foreigners Retrieved May 24, Foreigners non-native Taiwanese which are native English speaking students however, do not need to take a similar Chinese proficiency test, thus forwarding the ideology that the knowledge of English is superior to the Chinese counterpart and that to succeed in a globalized economy; one must be able to speak English Hu The implications for language policy makers are that policies must be formed which not only include but celebrate local languages.

Policies must not degrade other languages by placing them on a level of lower importance. Policies for language teaching must encompass and include cultural values from the societies from which the languages are derived as well as being taught.

In other words, when making policies regarding language teaching, one must consider the cultural ideologies of all and every student, the teacher, as well as the culture in which the target language is being taught. The American Council on The Teaching of Foreign Languages has expounded on the importance of combining the teaching of culture into the language curriculum to enhance understanding and acceptance of differences between people, cultures and ideologies Standards One example where as policy makers did not recognize the importance of culture is outlined by Kimin which the Korean government had consulted American ESL instructional guidelines which stated that for students to become competent in English they must speak English outside of the classroom.

A threat to positive face decreases approval from the hearer e. According to the politeness theory, the speaker can choose whether or not to perform face-threatening acts FTAs. When performing FTAs, the speaker will go on or off record. In going off record, the speaker uses hints or utterances that have more than one attributable intentions, so that he or she does not appear to have performed a speech act. In contrast, going on record means that the speaker performs the FTA i. With redress, the speaker indicates that he or she does not intend to violate social equilibrium by performing the FTA see further discussion below.

According to the politeness theory, the speaker wants to use the least amount of effort to maximize ends by considering the weight of performing the FTA. Brown and Levinson postulated a formula: They suggested that P and D were universal with some emic correlates.

The Relationship Between Language & Culture and the Implications for Language Teaching

Thus, in calculating Wx, S will consider the payoffs of each strategy. In using an on-record strategy, S may choose to be efficient, such as in an emergency e. After three decades, politeness theory remains one of the most tested theories. However, amongst its criticisms, the theory is said to account for intentional politeness, but not intentional impoliteness.

In particular, speakers are assumed to generate meanings and action, whereas hearers are treated as receivers who interpret the speech performance. Therefore, the politeness theory is unable to fully explain interactional organization in talk exchanges.

Conversation Analysis During the s, empirical science centered on the prediction of the effects of abstract ideas on communication and social life. Common predictors tested include personality types, cognition, biological sex, income level, and political stance.

Social scientists who studied language commonly adhered to the quantitative paradigm; they conducted experiments, used elicited conversations, and analyzed responses containing rehearsals of recollected conversations. The study of mundane rituals, however, was not of academic concern. Erving Goffman, a sociologist, later made a radical theoretical move that differed significantly from the mainstream empirical studies.

Goffman stated that orderliness was empirically observable from everyday conversation. In other words, sequential ordering of actions in social interaction reflects the macro social institution e.

He called attention to the orderliness that is observable in ordinary conversation—an area of investigation that other scientists neglected. Goffman did not test his ideas, nor did he develop any set of empirical methods that allowed the testing of his ideas.

Garfinkel proposed that ethno-methods i. He noted that social actors use multiple tacit methods e. Thus, conversation is a place where participants engage in mundane reason analysis, and conversational sequential structure—the organization of social interaction—reveals membership categorization.

They investigated how sequential structure is managed in institutional talk. Conversation analysts study conversation sequence organization, turn design, turn taking, lexical choices, the repair of difficulties in speech, and the overall conversational structure. They analyze linguistic mechanisms e. Institutional talk, as examined in later CA studies, focused on those that have fewer formal constraints as institutional practices e.

In general, CA theory postulates that talk is conducted in context. As such, sequential structure reveals socially shared and structured procedures Garfinkel, Thus, CA is the study of action, meaning, context management, and intersubjectivity. CA is qualitative in methodology, even though later scholarship involved statistical analysis. The method is criticized for several weaknesses, among them: Nevertheless, with a range of sub-areas quite well developed, CA is said to form its own discipline.

Discourse Analysis Discourse Analysis DA is a broad term for different analytical approaches used to examine text and talk. Discourse is considered language use in general, and language is viewed as a form of action.

However, the very different approaches and practices in DA have sparked disagreements among researchers about their applications and distinctions.

relationship between language and culture theory

Data used in DA range from written to spoken, such as recorded spontaneous conversation, news articles, historical documents, transcripts from counseling sessions, clinical talk, interviews, blogs, and the like. Socio-historical contexts are often included in DA. As a tool for analyzing text and talk, DA has significantly influenced the study of language and culture. However, in DP talk is considered constructive; language use is thus viewed as a social action or function.

This means that people use language to make sense of what they do in a socially meaningful world. Therefore, language is treated as a tool to get things done.

In DP, researchers study the details of what people say e. Researchers are concerned with how these features have particular effects or bear functions, such as shifting blame, denying responsibility, and providing counterarguments. DP researchers seek to understand the interests, attitudes, and motives of the speakers, particularly, why people use language the way they do and how they manage and construct identities.

Language use in news media coverage provides a good example for DP analysis. However, the Prime Minister and his acolytes in government in turn used descriptors such as criminals, crazy, unpatriotic, and shallow-minded culprits to label the demonstrators traitors to their country. The description above shows the way the speakers used language to construct their reality and their relationship to that reality.

In this case, DP researchers would analyze and illustrate how the Prime Minister and his government officials co-construct shared meanings in interaction, such as particular realities, beliefs, identities, or subjectivities.

The Relationship between Language and Culture - Lexiophiles

For instance, the government can be seen as attempting to exercise control over the public demonstrators through discourse in order to defend governmental power. Thus, by labeling the demonstrators culprits, the government asserted its identity as the authority—the elite power that runs the country and decides what goes. The researchers also assert that the productive examination of discourse must be considered within the context of language use, such as the institutional setting and local sequential organization of talk.

Thus, indexicality—the understanding that the meaning of a word is dependent on the context of use—is essential in DP analysis Potter, DP researchers insist that the analysis of text and talk should depend on the context exactly as construed by the language used. This means that extratextual information should not be inserted in the analysis.

  • The Relationship between Language and Culture

Therefore, DP cannot be utilized to interrogate broader social concerns, such as politics, ideology, and power Parker, As such, context is limited to and constituted by the interactional setting and functions of utterances.

DP is also criticized for casting speakers as conscious and agentic—that is, as autonomous subjects who manipulate language to do things. Such an assumption in fact closely resembles that of traditional psychology—the very idea that DP researchers attempted to shift away from Parker, Critical discourse analysts examine how societal power relations are enforced, legitimated, maintained, and dominated through the use of language.

The sociohistorical context of the text is emphasized.

Relationship between language & culture Part 1

The examination of social problems requires the analyst to be well versed in multiple disciplines. Commonly, the analysts are motivated by particular political agendas or ideologies, and they seek to challenge certain ideologies Fairclough, Therefore, based on, say, the motivation to fight social inequality and oppression, an analyst may seek out selected texts or talks for study.

It is in CDA studies that the abuse, dominance, and unequal distribution of social goods are called into question. Typical vocabulary in CDA studies includes power, dominance, hegemony, class, gender, race, discrimination, institution, reproduction, and ideology. Topics examined include gender inequality, media discourse, political discourse, racism, ethnocentrism, nationalism, and antiSemitism. Critical discourse analysts seek to answer questions such as: How do elite groups control public discourse?

How does such discourse control the less powerful group in terms of mind and action? What are the social consequences of such discourse control? The dominant social groups in politics, media, academics, and corporations are scrutinized in terms of the way they produce and maintain the dominant ideology.

Critical discourse analysts explore three contextual levels of discourse: At the macro level, analysts focus on the understanding of relationship between the text and broader social concerns and ideologies. At the meso level, analysts examine the contexts of production and reception of the text, and the ideologies portrayed. The analysts ask questions such as: Where did the text originate?

Who is are the author s and the intended audience of the text? What perspectives are being promoted? Linguistic features and components studied include direct and indirect quotations, terms used to refer to individuals or groups, sentence structure and grammar e.

While analysts frequently favor institutional texts e. In fact, everyday conversation is considered social group discourse that can be used to reveal societal norms and shared beliefs.

He called this specific type of talk a double strategy of positive self-representation and negative other-denigration. While the multidisciplinary nature of CDA seems beneficial, it is also one of its biggest criticisms. In particular, critical discourse analysts are often accused of not productively using a combination of multiple approaches.

Indeed, the more linguistically-oriented studies of text and talk overlooked theories in sociology and political sciences that focus on social and power inequality issues. On the other hand, those that focus on sociology and political sciences did not rigorously engage in DA.

Moreover, the relationship between discourse and action coupled with cognition remains inconclusive Van Dijk, The Ethnography of Communication The ethnography of communication originated from ethnology in the s and found a home in in anthropology. Bronislaw Malinowski, a Polish anthropologist, pioneered the ethnographic methods.

He intensively recorded the methods he used in his fieldwork when studying the Trobrian Islanders of Papua New Guinea inincluding intrinsic details about the people, their language, and their daily life Murdock, Franz Boas, a German anthropologist who lived among the Inuit in the late s, further propounded on the necessity for language training among ethnographers who wished to decode the emic i.

Ethnographers study social norms, meanings, and patterns of life by examining symbolic activities ranging from speech to social artifacts. By writing on culture, recording people, and natural history, ethnographers describe, analyze, and compare people from different communities. The painstaking work involved in ethnography provides rich data that are highly nuanced.

Ethnographic works are said to be the portraits of social life. Oftentimes, interviews are used concurrently, along with other methods e. Data analyses are conducted along with i. While an ethnographer may generate questions for investigation before entering the field, he or she must remain flexible and receptive to other important questions that may emerge on site. The focus of investigation might shift because theoretical sensitivity—the review of literature prior to fieldwork—may not sufficiently orient the ethnographer to actual interactions.

This is because the behaviors and activities that the ethnographer purports to study may have changed due to cultural shift. The use of such an inductive method allows the study of language and culture without theoretical constraints. Ethnographers may compare the behaviors cross-culturally when a sufficient number of studies of the cultures of interest become available. However, in the s, ethnography took a new turn with the greater emphasis on the study of language use.

Hymes, who was trained in anthropology and linguistics, sought to understand speech patterns, functions, and speaking in situatedness. He departed from microlinguistics which focuses on semantics, turn-taking, prosody, and conversational structure to pursue a more holistic account of interaction in context. Speaking is considered fundamental in understanding social reality. S represents the setting or scene; P, the participants and participant identities; E, the ends; A, the act sequence and act topic; K, the key or tone; I, the instrumentalities; N, the norms of interaction and interpretation; and G, the genre.

Although Hymes developed it to study spontaneous conversation, recent communication studies has broadened the scope of the data to include textual analysis and computer-mediated communication.

Bernstein argued that different social groups manifest different communicative practices and linguistic features.