Language and Tradition

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Tradition has been defined as ‘the total set of beliefs, attitudes, customs, behaviour, and social habits of the members of a particular society’. Our culture informs us what’s appropriate, what is regular, what is settle forable when dealing with other members of our society. Our culture lets us know what to expect from others, what they will say in sure situations, and the manner in which they will say it. It lets us know how they will act, and how they will react. It is the wisdom of the ages handed down to the present. We are affected by it, and it is affected by us. Culture is in a constant state of flux, changing incrementally, altering the way we speak and the way we think, the way we act and the way we react.

That culture is indelibly linked to language is undeniable, for language is a vehicle by which it is transmitted, probably its chief vehicle. One observable way in which language acts as a vehicle for, or a transmitter of, culture is in the usage of idiomatic language. Idiomaticity is arguably the commonest form of language, in terms of percentages of the whole. Idiomatic language, most often found in the form of phrases consisting of more than one word, usually doesn’t conform to say the grammatical construction of non-idiomatic language. For example, within the phrase, ‘at large’, as used in the expression, ‘the general public at giant’, or in the sentence, ‘The escaped convicts have been at large for 2 weeks before being recaptured.’, the preposition ‘at’ seems before what seems to be an adjective, ‘giant’. This seems to be in direct contradiction to the ‘normal’ place such a part of speech occupies in a grammatically correct sentence, viz. earlier than a noun, similar to in the following examples, ‘at house’, ‘at work’, ‘at the office’ et al. The phrase, ‘at giant’ showing on the page in isolation from any context that may make its which means more transparent, has an opaque quality the place semantic meaning is worried, and maybe still retains a few of its opacity of meaning even within the context of a sentence.

To members of the community utilizing such idiomatic language, there is tacit agreement on what these phrases imply, despite their opaque quality. Idioms are cultural entities.

To learners of a foreign language, any foreign language, culture imbues language with this opacity. The word, table is definitely understood and learned, but what in regards to the phrase, ‘to table a motion’? That phrase carries a cultural worth that is not readily appreciated or apparent to a learner. The which means doesn’t reside in the individual words that make up the phrase. The verb, ‘to table’ must initially seem nonsensical to a learner. Likewise, ‘a motion’ should appear like an anachronism, having discovered that motion is a synonym for the word ‘movement’.

Each culture has its own assortment of phrases that are peculiar to it, and whose meanings aren’t readily apparent. Have been this not so, George Bernard Shaw’s adage that America and Britain are nations separated by the identical language would haven’t any ironical appeal. Ostensibly, we speak the identical language, the British and the Americans, however each varieties use many alternative words, and have many different phrases that are usually mutually unintelligible, and generally uttered very differently. Typically only the context in which a phrase or word is used serves to disentangle. Sometimes even the context is not quite enough. Generally we think now we have understood when we have not.

This points out another characteristic of tradition bound language; that it exists within a bigger entity, that localized varieties exist. What’s understandable to an individual from one area could also be unintelligible to at least one from another. If this is true within the community of a particular set of customers of 1 language, how a lot more should it hold true to learners of that language. Many a learner of English, feeling herself proficient, has gone to England only to seek out the language at worst totally unintelligible, and at greatest emblematic, however still not fully comprehensible.

The ‘cultural weighting’ of any language, within the form of idiomatic phrases, is understood by members of that cultural community, or maybe more accurately, and more narrowly defined, by the members of that particular speech community, and conversely, will not be readily understood by those that come from one other tradition or even another speech community, albeit ostensibly within the identical culture.

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