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Examining Why Language is More than The Speaking of Words

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There is a lot more to language than spoken words. The words that are said or written can easily make a break a relationship, job or friendship. Often times we believe that putting things out on the table and speaking about our feelings when we are still angry makes the best time for communication. It is believed by some that speaking up at the time of the situation at hand allows people to communicate their feelings clearly. However, when it comes to communication, we need to be reasonable and calm in order to avoid saying things we dont mean or things that we may regret later on. Many cultures experience communication differently. When it comes to arguments, confessions or just general conversation, other cultures do things differently. Our cultural differences not only make a difference in our methods of communication but it also changes the effect it has on individuals.

A persons culture can affect their communication as a whole. Language and culture combined together can form a very hard barrier to defeat. Margaret Cote wrote, Language Reflects Culture which shows various differences between the English and Salteaux languages. Margaret Cote states that, Language determines the way a person views the world. She describes how Indian people have a different world-view, when compared to Western people. Margaret Cotes perspective varies between two worlds in two different ways; all determined by the different languages. Language whether spoken or acted out varies throughout the different cultures and different ideas stem from differing language use within ones culture.

Language is a complex and difficult fact; one naturally assumes that learning a language is like learning how to walk or eat. When you think of something in English, a different language may have its own internal meaning and understanding. Take Spanish for example, there are many things that when said in Spanish and then translated to English, do not have the exact same meaning or tone. Not only does verbal communication differ but so does body language. Many cultures do not have the same body language or sign language. In the U.S. we believe eye contact demonstrates respect and acknowledgement. There are cultures in which eye contact during conversation is a form of disrespect and a way of saying I dont care what you have to say. Also, the Spanish culture uses a lot have hand gestures when speaking, other cultures also find that rude, disrespectful and a lack of manners. The more languages vary from one another, the more it requires of you to rethink your world view. Unless one can understand a cultures language and methods of communication, it is hard to understand their world views.

During the first four decades of the 20th century, language was viewed by American linguists and anthropologists as being more important than it actually is in shaping our perception of reality. There are no “primitive” languages (Hooker, 1996). There is a system of sounds, words, and sentences that can effectively communicate the content of culture in every language. Cultures that have more complex, diverse economies and advanced technologies have larger vocabularies and often times express themselves differently from those who grew up in a less fortunate atmosphere. Most Americans only use 800-1,000 words in everyday conversation. A typical American college student knows 20,000-30,000 words by the time he or she graduates.

Even though all languages in some way install the experience of time into the languagefor instance, European languages distinguish between past, present, and future, and most European languages add other temporal categories: continuing actions in the past, unreal actions in the past, actions in the present that will continue into the future, etc.) Many American languages are clumped together to form words by combining several words together into a single word. A few examples of words being clumped together are conjunctions such as theyre, havent, didnt and etc). Other times these words simply serve as part of the sentence. There are several consequences of such a language on culture and world view: because of the difference in language and the clumping of words to make more or less words, there is the large chance that meanings and expressions may be changed and as an outsider, my world view has been alter, changed, or just badly influenced.

Every language can create new words to describe new situations and objects. Because of the constant addition of words, it is not surprising that all languages change through time. However, they change at different rates at different times in response to new social, cultural, and environmental situations. Like in the United States, there are many cultures that do not want a new language to take over their native language, communication and meaning. However, young people in most developed nations eagerly embrace new words regardless of attempts by their governments to retain the purity of the native tongue. As I write, I think of those in foreign countries in which many do not speak or acknowledge the American language. When it comes to languages, some people are very biased. People assume that because our words or body language is different, we are different people all together. Not only does this bias and misunderstanding occur when talking between cultures, it also takes place within the same cultures.

Harvard University, an Ivy League school teaches some of the smartest students across the states teaches students various things and at a rate which many feel would be too much to uphold. For those who do not have the opportunity to attend such a high ranking school, are they taught the same material? Yes, for the most part they are however, it is a sense of pride that drives these individuals to communicate through body language and verbally that they may hold themselves or feel at a higher level. Many times do these communication barriers challenge and affect our own worldview point of our country. Although they went to an expensive school, does that make you any less intelligent? It might go smoother when being addressed or when speaking to someone but it is portrayed that the more expensive a school or the higher a salary is, the more communication has played a crucial factor.

Although language in the United States is pretty general, cultures are being introduced here and there and our vocabulary continues to expand. However, can we continue to be civil and not turn on each other for lack of world view understanding? The world is constantly spinning and everything will constantly change and or improve; language being one of the many.

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