Essay about understanding culture through language and literature

The importance of context in Literature!

Poetry was not only the province of professional poets. The Book of Songs enshrined poetry as the most important form of literature across East Asia.

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When Japan sought cultural independence from China, it did so by creating its own poetry collection. View image of The Tale of Genji. The importance of poetry also shaped one of the first great novels in world literature: The Tale of Genji. When she became a lady-in-waiting at the secretive court of Japan, she used this knowledge to compose a portrait of life at court, full of detail and psychological insight, producing a masterpiece that grew to over a thousand pages. To give her novel the status of high literature, she included nearly poems.

As more and more parts of the world became literate, new technologies, above all paper and print, increased the reach and influence of written stories. Both inventions lowered the cost of literature, which meant that new groups of readers could have access to written stories. This development was particularly visible in the Arabic world, which had acquired the secret of making paper from China and turned it into a thriving industry. For the first time, stories that had only been told orally made it into writing and were assembled in story collections such as the One Thousand and One Nights.

View image of Scheherazade. More varied than the older epic stories or poetry collections, the One Thousand and One Nights provided entertainment and education in equal measure, framed by the unforgettable story of Scheherazade and the king who had sworn to kill any woman after spending only one night with her. Faced with the prospect of certain death, Scheherazade began to tell story after story until the king found himself cured of his murderous oath — making Scheherazade not only his queen but also the hero of storytelling.

Poetry collections, story collections, and epic tales cast a long shadow over subsequent literary history.

When the Italian poet Dante Alighieri set out to capture and elaborate the Christian view of Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven, he chose the form of epic poetry, thus competing with classical authors cleverly, he put Homer in limbo since Homer had the misfortune of living before Christ. View image of Dante. Dante wrote this Comedy not in highly regarded Latin, but in the spoken dialect of Tuscany. The decision helped turn that dialect into the legitimate language we now call Italian, a tribute to the importance of literature in shaping language.

An urban dialect often mixes characteristics of a geographical variety the rural dialects of the surrounding region and social varieties the speech of certain groups of society. For example, the Helsinki urban dialect, called Helsingin slangi or Stadin slangi in Finnish , was originally created and used by young members of the working class. Later it spread among other parts of the society, and today slangi is popular in many different spheres.

There is even a slangi version of the information platform of Helsinki City Transport. At the beginning of the 19th century, Helsinki was a small Swedish speaking town, but when it became the capital of Finland and massive industrialization started, many young Finnish speaking people moved to Helsinki to work there. In the s, the population was mixed and the city was multilingual: Swedish, Finnish, Russian and German were in use.

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Helsinki slang was created by workers whose mother tongue was Finnish. The grammar of this variety was the same as in colloquial Finnish, but the vocabulary was formed mostly from Swedish words, with some Russian and a little German. In the 20th century, when it was used by more and different people, Helsinki slang changed. In its modern form it is more similar to colloquial Finnish. While the Swedish element is still strong, new vocabulary now often comes from English.

There are several terms used to refer to varieties used by certain groups of speakers within a speech community. Sociolect or social dialect is a broad technical term for such varieties in linguistics. Both linguists and laymen use the term slang to refer to varieties of colloquial speech. We have just seen that the urban dialect of Helsinki is called slang.

Another example is teenager slang — varieties used by teenagers for chatting among friends, often associated with school. Sometimes teenagers of one school even have their own kind of slang which differs from that used in other schools. An important function of slang is to demonstrate and maintain in-group relationship: you can hear if someone belongs to your group or is an outsider. A good example is hip hop culture which originates in cultural practices of Afro-American and Latino youth in New York suburbs and is associated with their slang.

As hip hop culture became popular in other parts of the world, elements of this slang spread along with the customs, especially rap music. Varieties associated with a professional field for example, medicine or an activity such as hunting or weaving are called jargons or language for special purposes. A jargon is usually not thought of as non-standard language while a slang typically is , and it may be used both in speaking and writing. These explanations are only rough guidelines — there is no conformity in the use of such terms.

Maybe this is inevitable, because the varieties themselves have many facets and can be classed in different ways. Another term that is used in different meanings is argot. A jargon in turn mainly offers more differentiated means for communication within a certain field or about a topic. Slang, argots and jargons differ from the standard variety mainly with respect to vocabulary.

How do they build their vocabulary, where do new words come from? There are several techniques that can be found in languages all over the world. First, the words may come from another language. As mentioned above, the Helsinki urban dialect took its vocabulary mainly from Swedish. Teenager slang nowadays uses many words from English. In medical or academic jargon we find words of Latin and Greek origin.

The secret language of British Gypsies is or was Anglo-Romani , a language based on English but with many Romani words. What is Anglo-Romani? An explanation by Prof.

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Yaron Matras from Manchester University:. Speakers may insert a Romani word occasionally when welcoming Romani guests or when meeting with other family members. Sometimes the use of Romani is for humour, and sometimes British Romanies will use Romani words among themselves in public places in order to prevent Gaujos non-Gypsies from understanding what they are saying. Which words come from Romani, can you guess their meaning?

Their grandchildren, me included, have only the pogerdi chib, now. I married away from the kawlo rattee, a gawji whom I love to this day. Apart from my grandparents, I have never heard the pure chib spoken. I agree with Jacqueline, though — if you want the pukkered chib, go to the kawlo ratte, not the Romanes Rai or Rawnee.

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Second, new words may be created by giving an existing word another meaning. The old standard and the new special meaning may be linked by metaphor — a similarity is seen between the two concepts. Saying the opposite of what you mean can also be an indicator of a special situation, something out of the ordinary.

It consists of reversing the meaning of whole sentences. Jiriwirri or Jiliwirri : saying the opposite from what you mean examples from Riemer 95, citing Hale Third, new words can be formed by word-formation see Chapter 3 Language structure — especially derivation and compounding. The techniques may be the same as in the standard variety, but in slangs and argots there are often some special means of derivation that mark words as belonging to this slang. Two widespread techniques found in slang and secret languages, as well as in language games popular with children are i to insert additional vowels or syllables into a word, and ii to reverse the order of syllables or other parts of a word.

These two techniques may also be combined.

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You can find examples from many languages of the world in the English Wikipedia entry Language games. Thus, pu-pin-va-lo-da becomes pu-pu-pi-pin-va-pa-lo-po-da-pa of course, the fun is in speaking these words quickly. Two facts are worth noting here. First, although these are primarily or exclusively spoken varieties of a language, at least English Back slang and French Verlans rely on the spelling of a word, thus, written language.

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For example, if the English word knife [naif] were just spoken backwards, we would get fine [fain]. The French word femme is pronounced [fam], so if Verlans were based on pronunciation the outcome would be [maf].

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Cultures may differ in codes (language, literature, law, etc.) introspective person many years to understand even a small part of their own culture. in Z. N. Patil, S. Marathe and AtulPatil () Aspects of ELLT: Essays on Theory, Practice. Teaching Literature: Language and Cultural Awareness Using the Example of Publish your bachelor's or master's thesis, dissertation, term paper or essay. The text shows that students need to understand other cultural backgrounds in.

The other interesting fact is that this technique and varieties where it prevails are used by very different groups of speakers — from criminals to children. This function may be less important in Europe, but it is an important part, for example, of Australian aboriginal cultures. Several Australian languages have special varieties used in conversations between family members where a participant of the conversation is by social convention not allowed to speak in an ordinary way to another person.

There are certain taboos, words that must be avoided in the presence of certain persons, and therefore a variety called avoidance language must be used. As the taboo often involves in-laws, avoidance languages are also called mother-in-law languages the variety a man must use when speaking to his mother-in-law.

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In these avoidance languages we find the same techniques as described above: using words from another language, giving words another meaning, or forming new words by special rules. For both culture and language, various scholars have independently noted that these concepts are better understood as activities or processes, not as things — they are something we do or something that happens rather than something that exists or something that we possess.

To illustrate this idea, we may try to use the names of these concepts as verbs instead of nouns.

Essay About Understanding Culture Through Language And Literature

However, such very general statements are not very helpful — what do they mean? This essay will critically examine the way this interpretation is formed by following the model established by I. Cultural Aspects This commonality exemplifies what our students consider are some of the cultural aspects involved in learning a foreign language. For one, the text of the oral tradition becomes a written literary genre. Culture should include those aspects of life that concern people the most.

Reasoning about the nature of language, Wilhelm von Humboldt argued already in that language is not a product or result of activities, but the activity itself, and a creative force. This perspective leads us to new questions regarding the connection between culture and language, for example: How and in which situations do we do culture with language? Which linguistic activities are cultural practices? What forms do they have in different cultures? We may distinguish everyday cultural practices and those performed only at special occasions.

Another distinction is between practices shared by all members of a community and customs which are performed only by special members, because they require more training or talent such as writing poems or a special status such as preaching.

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Examples for customs performed by ordinary members of a culture are: exchanging greetings, saying grace before a meal, thanking for a gift, writing text messages wishing a happy birthday, singing Christmas carols, sending cards at weddings, reading a newspaper at breakfast, reading bedtime stories to children, writing diaries or blogs…. Some of these customs are universal — greeting and thanking are found everywhere in the world — others are more culture specific.

Some are oral practices performed by speaking and listening , others are literary practices using writing and reading. Languaging happens everywhere… seen in Berlin, photo Nicole Nau. When a practice is widespread among cultures, there are still differences in the way it is performed.

We become aware of these differences when we learn another language and visit the place where it is spoken. The more the culture where we are guests differs from our own, the more we recognize how much of our daily use of language is in fact cultural practices. A certain occasion, for example starting a meal or drinking wine at a party, may require just one or a few words in one culture, while in another culture much more has to be said or written. Click here to watch an example of a toast performed in the endangered language Svan.