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Language and Culture

 Language Learning Forum : Cultural Experiences in Foreign Languages Post Reply
24 messages over 3 pages: 1 2
United Kingdom
Joined 4415 days ago

28 posts - 31 votes
Speaks: English*
Studies: German

 Message 17 of 24
11 June 2013 at 2:13pm | IP Logged 
I think that language in itself carries the history and culture of its speakers but , I
mean culture in terms of the important periods that the native population would know.As
for culture I want to know enough to understand the people I speak to. I mean I think
language would just be lines on a page without culture and history that lead to idioms
and common wisdom in the language.
2 persons have voted this message useful

Senior Member
United States
Joined 5601 days ago

525 posts - 1071 votes 
Speaks: English*, German, Japanese
Studies: Korean, Mandarin

 Message 18 of 24
11 June 2013 at 5:36pm | IP Logged 
Volte wrote:

There's a middle ground: if you spend a lot of time around people from the local culture
who don't read gossip magazines, you'll pick up on the key pop-cultural highlights of the
past few decades almost by osmosis.

That's the way I see it. I'll learn some pop culture by osmosis, and to hell with the
rest of it.
1 person has voted this message useful

Senior Member
Joined 4085 days ago

747 posts - 1123 votes 
Speaks: Cantonese*, English, Mandarin
Studies: French

 Message 19 of 24
14 June 2013 at 2:24am | IP Logged 
Interesting observation. In a way this is true. Several people in the family took French
but not 1 had a high enough fluency beside basic grammar & vocabulary. Another took
Japanese as a hobby. Again not very high fluency level not living in places where
specific languages are spoken.

However, there are exceptions to the rule like Moses McCormick from Akron, Ohio who
managed to learn 50+ languages to a high enough level to be understood by natives.
Obviously he didn't travel to all the places where the languages he is learning is
spoken. He would always mix himself into the people from various countries, dine in
exotic cuisines and talking to waiters & waitresses in their native tongue.
1 person has voted this message useful

United States
Joined 3845 days ago

64 posts - 115 votes 
Speaks: English*, Korean
Studies: Spanish, Japanese

 Message 20 of 24
14 June 2013 at 8:23pm | IP Logged 
I've always studied culture in tandem with it's language. I remember reading several
anthropological studies asserting that language is the main transmitter of culture.
When learning a language, you tend to learn more about the culture than you realize.
For example, a language like Korean changes verb forms depending on the relationship
between the speaker and listener. You learn (whether or not you realize) that a huge
part of the Korean culture lies in respect and humility.

I tend to read world history books, travel guides, traditional literature, ect. Even if
the information doesn't feel 100% applicable, I feel like it personifies the language,
if that makes any sense. I study languages mainly because I want to communicate with
people, so to me it makes perfect sense that I'd try and understand as much about their
way of life as I can. I like to learn about the pop culture too. I happen to hate
American Pop culture, so it's nice to have a break from it. Plus, I've noticed native
speakers seem to be really pleased when they see you understand various pop culture
references. I feel like I understand native speakers better when we watch the same
movies, listen to the same music, and read the same books. I feel like I can relate
1 person has voted this message useful

Senior Member
Joined 5022 days ago

3971 posts - 7746 votes 
Speaks: English, French*, GermanC1, Spanish, Japanese, Esperanto
Studies: Italian, Norwegian, Mandarin, Romanian, Estonian

 Message 21 of 24
14 June 2013 at 8:57pm | IP Logged 
To me, culture and language are two completely different things. While language is a system of communication, culture is the context in which it is used, but language also exists outside of culture. These two entities are not explained, understood or defined in similar terms either, and one language could be used within several different cultures and cultures that share a lot of elements could in turn use completely different languages. I enjoy learning about cultures as a human being, regardless of whether I know the culture's main language or not, and this not related to my interest for languages.
2 persons have voted this message useful

Senior Member
Joined 5681 days ago

294 posts - 363 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: Ancient Greek, French, Italian, Spanish, Russian, Mandarin, Japanese, Latin

 Message 22 of 24
14 June 2013 at 9:33pm | IP Logged 
I see culture and language as being deeply related and they both exert an influence and change one another. For me to be interested in a language I have to embrace some part of the culture whether thats pop culture, music, philosophy, history, politics etc I need to find something to make me appreciate the language in use not just use it mechanically for directions and ordering food at a restaurant.

I like to study the classical periods of history ie:- Greece, Rome, India, China eventually Arab and Persian because they still exert a strong presence in the present. I appreciate the English language alot more after studying Classical Greek and Latin and as a bonus I've found newspaper crosswords easier.
2 persons have voted this message useful

Senior Member
United States
Joined 3892 days ago

286 posts - 324 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: German, Spanish, Danish, Irish
Studies: Russian

 Message 23 of 24
15 June 2013 at 2:08am | IP Logged 
I see language and culture as separate as well. There's also the question of who's version of culture are you talking about?

For example, Spanish is spoken in many different countries, by a lot of different people. Even in the United States, it's spoken by people with vastly different worldviews. You have people like my husband's friend's wife who lives a fairly typical American life, then you have Spanish speakers in the United States who are big into racial politics and are trying to reclaim some of the southwestern US States and make them a part of Mexico again. Spanish is spoken from remote mountain villages to executive boardrooms. All of these people live completely different lives.

You have the same thing with English too. I'm sure that the Queen of England, a poor Appalachian family, and an office manager live completely different lives and have different cultural influences.

Language gives me the opportunity to communicate with all of the people that speak the language. As I complete my traditional language coursework and move more into native materials, I'll probably gravitate to works in the subculture that I find most attractive. I probably won't be interacting much with the parts of the culture that I'm not as interested in.
2 persons have voted this message useful

United States
Joined 4222 days ago

39 posts - 150 votes 
Speaks: English*, Russian, German
Studies: Spanish, Arabic (Gulf)

 Message 24 of 24
15 June 2013 at 3:20am | IP Logged 
Gomorritis wrote:
Embracing the culture is an important part of my language learning: I have grown a beard to learn Greek.

-- I have been to Greece twice.

A woman 'embracing the culture' will have to avoid the razor with the same level of dedication.

2 persons have voted this message useful

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