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 Language Learning Forum : Cultural Experiences in Foreign Languages Post Reply
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Mooby
Senior Member
Scotland
Joined 5746 days ago

707 posts - 1219 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: Polish

 
 Message 17 of 37
30 October 2012 at 8:23pm | IP Logged 
I think if you're attracted to the culture associated with the language you are learning, then of course, that's a bonus. But it doesn't have to be the primary motivation. I learn in order to communicate with people first and foremost. There are aspects of the culture which attract me (Polish literature) and others that don't (some of the cuisine).
I may be able to have a satisfying intellectual or emotional connection with culture, but I prefer to have personal connections with actual people. I can see that the exploration and sharing of culture makes these relationships richer. Indeed it is through these relationships that my eyes are opened to a culture I might have initially passed by.

1 person has voted this message useful



nimchimpsky
Diglot
Groupie
Netherlands
Joined 5252 days ago

73 posts - 108 votes 
Speaks: Dutch*, English

 
 Message 18 of 37
30 October 2012 at 8:36pm | IP Logged 
Chung wrote:
druckfehler wrote:
Chung wrote:
The original question dealt with the
need to learn everything about the culture to be fluent in the associated language.
Needing to know something (or even a lot) about the culture is different from needing
to know everything about it.


And your short answer was absolutely sufficient for the superficial question. But I
think the answers about gradations of cultural knowledge are worthwhile and more
thought-provoking than the initial question.


Indeed. I was merely reacting to nimchimpsky who assigns a stronger link between
cultural knowledge and fluency, and makes what I feel are strong statements on the
matter (esp. the association of WWII as part of the Dutch speech community's collective
memory/experience with their native language). For the record I knew nothing of Bieber
until Psy came into my consciousness in the summer and the subsequent link of the two
singers thanks to Scooter Braun.


How can you claim to be fluent in Dutch if you can't talk about what most Dutch people
talk about? I can also assure you that not knowing anything about WWII is much worse
than any grammar mistake you might make.


1 person has voted this message useful



Chung
Diglot
Senior Member
Joined 6797 days ago

4228 posts - 8258 votes 
20 sounds
Speaks: English*, French
Studies: Polish, Slovak, Uzbek, Turkish, Korean, Finnish

 
 Message 19 of 37
30 October 2012 at 8:46pm | IP Logged 
nimchimpsky wrote:
Chung wrote:
druckfehler wrote:
Chung wrote:
The original question dealt with the
need to learn everything about the culture to be fluent in the associated language.
Needing to know something (or even a lot) about the culture is different from needing
to know everything about it.


And your short answer was absolutely sufficient for the superficial question. But I
think the answers about gradations of cultural knowledge are worthwhile and more
thought-provoking than the initial question.


Indeed. I was merely reacting to nimchimpsky who assigns a stronger link between
cultural knowledge and fluency, and makes what I feel are strong statements on the
matter (esp. the association of WWII as part of the Dutch speech community's collective
memory/experience with their native language). For the record I knew nothing of Bieber
until Psy came into my consciousness in the summer and the subsequent link of the two
singers thanks to Scooter Braun.


How can you claim to be fluent in Dutch if you can't talk about what most Dutch people
talk about? I can also assure you that not knowing anything about WWII is much worse
than any grammar mistake you might make.



Very odd to me because it makes it out that WWII has an enormous effect on Dutch national consciousness/culture, and so knowing about WWII as the Dutch (or perhaps you, nimchimpsky?) see it is a prerequisite to fluency in Dutch. Funny, because WWII is only one of many topics a Dutch person may talk about.

May I remind you that it's called WORLD War II for a reason. The Chinese, Russians, Japanese, Koreans, Americans, British, Germans and Israelis of today among many others still bear evidence in their collective memories of that war. However you'd be hard-pressed to think that fluency in their respective native languages would also require knowing about it beyond a few dates or names of a couple big battles relevant to their native speech community rather than the events relevant to the collective memory of those who are native speakers of the target language (e.g. the battle of Stalingrad or siege of Leningrad mean squat to the average Japanese, but they mean a ton to the average Russian. The Battle of Nanking means next to nothing to the average German, but it means a ton to the average Chinese, the failure of Market Garden means nothing to the average Israeli, but a ton to the average Dutchman/woman etc.).

Edited by Chung on 30 October 2012 at 9:00pm

1 person has voted this message useful



nimchimpsky
Diglot
Groupie
Netherlands
Joined 5252 days ago

73 posts - 108 votes 
Speaks: Dutch*, English

 
 Message 20 of 37
30 October 2012 at 8:50pm | IP Logged 
Mooby wrote:
I think if you're attracted to the culture associated with the language
you are learning, then of course, that's a bonus. But it doesn't have to be the primary
motivation. I learn in order to communicate with people first and foremost. There are
aspects of the culture which attract me (Polish literature) and others that don't (some
of the cuisine).
I may be able to have a satisfying intellectual or emotional connection with culture,
but I prefer to have personal connections with actual people. I can see that the
exploration and sharing of culture makes these relationships richer. Indeed it is
through these relationships that my eyes are opened to a culture I might have initially
passed by.


People don't exist in a vacuum. Being Dutch is a part of me. Being able to buy a drink
or chat about the weather is not enough to establish a lasting relationship. There is
simply not enough to talk about.
1 person has voted this message useful



nimchimpsky
Diglot
Groupie
Netherlands
Joined 5252 days ago

73 posts - 108 votes 
Speaks: Dutch*, English

 
 Message 21 of 37
30 October 2012 at 9:02pm | IP Logged 
Chung wrote:
nimchimpsky wrote:
Chung wrote:
druckfehler wrote:
Chung wrote:

The original question dealt with the
need to learn everything about the culture to be fluent in the associated language.
Needing to know something (or even a lot) about the culture is different from needing
to know everything about it.


And your short answer was absolutely sufficient for the superficial question. But I
think the answers about gradations of cultural knowledge are worthwhile and more
thought-provoking than the initial question.


Indeed. I was merely reacting to nimchimpsky who assigns a stronger link between
cultural knowledge and fluency, and makes what I feel are strong statements on the
matter (esp. the association of WWII as part of the Dutch speech community's collective
memory/experience with their native language). For the record I knew nothing of Bieber
until Psy came into my consciousness in the summer and the subsequent link of the two
singers thanks to Scooter Braun.


How can you claim to be fluent in Dutch if you can't talk about what most Dutch people
talk about? I can also assure you that not knowing anything about WWII is much worse
than any grammar mistake you might make.



Very odd to me because it makes it out that WWII has an enormous effect on Dutch
national consciousness/culture, and so knowing about WWII as the Dutch (or perhaps you,
nimchimpsky?) see it is a prerequisite to fluency in Dutch. Funny, because WWII is only
one of many topics a Dutch person may talk about.

May I remind you that it's called WORLD War II for a reason. The Chinese,
Russians, Japanese, Koreans, Americans, British, Germans and Israelis of today among
many others still bear evidence in their collective memories of that war. However you'd
be hard-pressed to think that fluency in their respective native languages would also
require knowing about it beyond a few dates or names of a couple big battles relevant
to their native speech community rather than the events relevant to the collective
memory of those who are native speakers of the target language (e.g. the battle of
Stalingrad or siege of Leningrad mean squat to the average Japanese, but they mean a
ton to the average Russian. The Battle of Nanking means next to nothing to the average
German, but it means a ton to the average Chinese, etc.).


I never said you need detailed knowledge of WWII neither did I say anything about what
it means to other cultures. Cultural knowledge also doesn't have to be restricted to
stories about the Netherlands. Most Dutch people will also assume you know something
about the wider world.
1 person has voted this message useful



SamD
Triglot
Senior Member
United States
Joined 6300 days ago

823 posts - 987 votes 
Speaks: English*, Spanish, French
Studies: Portuguese, Norwegian

 
 Message 22 of 37
30 October 2012 at 9:19pm | IP Logged 
You don't need to know absolutely everything about a culture. However, it is awfully helpful if not necessary to know something about the culture to be able to have any truly meaningful conversation.

What good is it to be able to speak seven languages if you have nothing worth saying in any of them?
1 person has voted this message useful



Mooby
Senior Member
Scotland
Joined 5746 days ago

707 posts - 1219 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: Polish

 
 Message 23 of 37
30 October 2012 at 10:18pm | IP Logged 
nimchimpsky wrote:
Mooby wrote:
I think if you're attracted to the culture associated with the language
you are learning, then of course, that's a bonus. But it doesn't have to be the primary
motivation. I learn in order to communicate with people first and foremost. There are
aspects of the culture which attract me (Polish literature) and others that don't (some
of the cuisine).
I may be able to have a satisfying intellectual or emotional connection with culture,
but I prefer to have personal connections with actual people. I can see that the
exploration and sharing of culture makes these relationships richer. Indeed it is
through these relationships that my eyes are opened to a culture I might have initially
passed by.


People don't exist in a vacuum. Being Dutch is a part of me. Being able to buy a drink
or chat about the weather is not enough to establish a lasting relationship. There is
simply not enough to talk about.



There are tons of universal things we can talk about, like science, religion, work, fishing... IN ADDITION to sharing our cultures.
What might attract me to you or anyone else, as a friend, might have nothing to do with nationality.
Surely my appreciation / understanding of a person's culture could grow later, as I implied in my earlier post.
But I'll agree; if it does grow then there's a good chance that a lasting relationship could form.
3 persons have voted this message useful



iguanamon
Pentaglot
Senior Member
Virgin Islands
Speaks: Ladino
Joined 4903 days ago

2231 posts - 6710 votes 
Speaks: English*, Spanish, Portuguese, Haitian Creole, Creole (French)

 
 Message 24 of 37
31 October 2012 at 12:18am | IP Logged 
Jacques Barzun wrote:
"Whoever wants to know the heart and mind of America had better learn baseball."


Barzun was a cultural historian. He was born in France and moved to the US at 12 years old. He passed away just last week at 104 years old. His obituary in the New York times merited four pages. Jacques Barzun Obituary NYT There was a time in the US when baseball truly was the "national pastime". It was a huge part of the culture. The vocabulary of the game seeped into everyday American English- Baseball's influence on American English.

I'd be willing to bet that few of the non-native, highly proficient, English-speakers here on the forum know much about baseball. They don't have to in order to speak English, as even the English, Australians, Kiwis and South Africans have proven. I remember watching "Field of Dreams" in England and none of the English quite "got" it. Would my lack of passion for hockey prevent me from communicating in Toronto or Vancouver? It never has. I lived in England for a long time without knowing why a Cliff Richard reference should elicit guffaws from a television audience. (I did manage to learn the necessary quote references from "Dad's Army" and "Allo, Allo") That's with being a native English-speaker. I've got little hope in either Spanish or Portuguese!

No, you don't have to learn everything in order to be proficient in a language but you should have some awareness of the culture. You don't need to be a "renaissance man" or know all aspects of a culture. I don't even know all aspects of my own culture. That's not going to stop me from learning as much as I can, as well as I can, in the limited time I've been granted. As Yogi Berra (baseball) said "Ninety percent of this game is half mental."

Edited by iguanamon on 31 October 2012 at 12:30am



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