All living beings have some way or another to communicate with each other of the same species. From plants to mammals, each one can communicate to each other. What makes humans both unique and special is the fact that we have the ability to teach others through both written and verbal communication. This is how we pass what is known as culture from one generation to another. In my essay I will explore if there is a link between language, culture, and how the world views other cultures.
Humans are the only creature that has what we call culture. Culture is what is passed on from one generation to another via language. It is a set of agreed upon rules or laws that regulate the society and how it operates. It is historical, functional, mental, structural, symbolic, topical, and normative. Culture can be any combination of these things that teach the younger generations how to survive in unfamiliar conditions, describe the world around them to others so that it can be understood, or many other things that we do not know at birth.
Communication is both verbal and non-verbal. The human ability to communicate is more than the ability to use verbal symbols. However, these can be done by other living beings as well. Animals hunt in packs. Insects move in organized swarms. Yet neither of them have language It may be through body language that a person learns to communicate feelings to others. We are also able to draw symbols that represent other things. Writing the word ‘desk’ does not look like a desk. However, we know what this arrangement of symbols represent.
Language is the ability to use symbols to communicate to others. As long as the people communicating share the same language, then the culture can be passed on. When they do not share the same language is where the problem come in. Different cultures may, and usually do, use different symbols to represent the same item. If two people from different cultures tried to communicate without knowing the others language, they would not be able to communicate effectively.
This is where language and culture build a bridge to each other. Without one you will not have the other. Culture depends on the ability of those who live in it to be able to show, teach, and pass-on its’ values and morals through the use of a symbol system. That is what language is. Language is what makes a culture. It is not the backbone, but it is the supporting structure. Language is developed by a culture so that its’ members can communicate with each other.
When a culture or society views something different or separate from their culture, this is called worldview. An example of this would be a culture that nomadic as opposed to one that thrives on meeting and dealing other cultures. A representative that went to a nomadic society may not be welcomed by the society because of their culture. The nomadic society probably would not send a representative to the other culture. Sometimes a society may judge some aspect another culture. This is ethnocentrism. This also has an effect of worldview. If a society watches another culture and learns from their advances, they may then classify the as more or less advanced, stronger or weaker, or any other classification to pass on to others in the society. As an example, when most North Americans hear Africans, the think of primitive, black tribes, not of countries, cities, and other accomplishments that may have occurred in their numerous societies and culture. What makes worldview so important is that it how one culture learns and grows from another culture.
Worldview, culture, and language are a triangle of humanity. Each one is just as important as the other. You cannot have one or two without the other ones. Language, the base of all cultures, is taught to a child even before the child can learn the set of symbols. Culture is dependent on language to move it not only from one generation to the next, but also from one society to another. Worldview is the window to the world and how it operates outside of our own society. These three items are all linked to each other both directly and firmly. If a society looses any of these three aspects, it will surely fail in a matter of generations.
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