Discuss the differences in the way language is used in different cultures or the ways in which the language reflects the culture and its worldview.I have to write a 4 page paper and I am not sure...

Discuss the differences in the way language is used in different cultures or the ways in which the language reflects the culture and its worldview.

I have to write a 4 page paper and I am not sure where to start. Please be sure to cite references.

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herappleness's profile pic

M.P. Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

According to Albert Bandura's Social Learning theory, and Vygotsky's theory of constructivism, language is a tool of communication that promotes learning in terms of acquiring intelligence, expressing emotions, and analyzing information.

In a culture, any culture, it is through language how you acquire the idiosyncrasies of your culture, the mannerisms that are unique to your heritage and, most importantly, it is through language that you pass on the knowledge, folklore, information, and traditions from one generation to another.

It is a powerful tool that is still studied by cognitive psycholinguists in the way that its intonation or changes in it, produces affect in other people: For instance, a stern tone of voice causes fear at times.

In the Spanish culture, I can tell you a quote that once I heard: "You train dogs in German, You speak to Women in French but you pray to God in Spanish"- Surely that sounds totally biased, but the person who quoted this must have been very keen on the power of language. We are very dependant on our language particularly in our non-verbal language. This is why you may have heard that Spanish people "talk with their hands"- What really happens is that we are very passionate and hot blooded individuals, and we use our entire bodies to convey communication.

This latter is an example of how through language we have conveyed those behavior qualities that make us unique.

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Sorry, I don't have references, but I hope something is better than nothing.

I think that you can really argue that languages do reflect the world views of different cultures.  I'm going to talk a bit about English, Japanese (which I can speak okay) and Pohnpeian (the language of a little island called Pohnpei, where I grew up).

The Japanese world view is, to me, very formal, structured and hierarchical when compared to that of the US.  Therefore, it makes sense to me that their language is like that too.  For example, they have different verbs for giving something to someone higher than you in status, someone lower than you, and someone equal to you.

Both Japan and Pohnpei are more family oriented cultures than ours in the US.  I think you can see that in language.  In Japanese, the family name comes first and you only call close friends by their first names.  In Pohnpeian, extended family is important and so there is no distinction between the words for "uncle" and "father" or "brother" and "cousin."

I hope that at least gives you some ideas as to what you should look for...

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