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 is appropriate, what is regular, what’s settle forable when dealing with different members of our society. Our tradition lets us know what to anticipate from others, what they will say in sure situations, and the way in which they will say it. It lets us know how they will act, and the way 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 continuing state of flux, altering incrementally, altering the way we speak and the way we think, the way we act and the way we react.

That tradition 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, tradition is in the use of idiomatic language. Idiomaticity is arguably the most typical form of language, in terms of percentages of the whole. Idiomatic language, most often discovered in the form of phrases consisting of more than one word, typically doesn’t conform to say the grammatical construction of non-idiomatic language. For instance, in the phrase, ‘at massive’, as used within the expression, ‘the public at giant’, or in the sentence, ‘The escaped convicts had been at large for two weeks earlier than being recaptured.’, the preposition ‘at’ seems earlier than what appears to be an adjective, ‘massive’. This appears to be in direct contradiction to the ‘normal’ place such a part of speech occupies in a grammatically appropriate sentence, viz. earlier than a noun, akin to within the following examples, ‘at dwelling’, ‘at work’, ‘at the office’ et al. The phrase, ‘at giant’ appearing on the web page in isolation from any context that would make its meaning more clear, has an opaque quality where semantic which means is concerned, and maybe still retains a few of its opacity of that means even within the context of a sentence.

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

To learners of a foreign language, any foreign language, tradition imbues language with this opacity. The word, table is well understood and realized, however what in regards to the phrase, ‘to table a motion’? That phrase carries a cultural value that is not readily appreciated or apparent to a learner. The that means does not reside within the particular person words that make up the phrase. The verb, ‘to table’ must initially appear nonsensical to a learner. Likewise, ‘a motion’ must appear like an anachronism, having realized that motion is a synonym for the word ‘movement’.

Every tradition has its own assortment of phrases which might be peculiar to it, and whose meanings should not 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 same language, the British and the People, however each varieties use many various words, and have many different phrases which might be typically mutually unintelligible, and sometimes uttered very differently. Typically only the context in which a phrase or word is used serves to disentangle. Sometimes even the context isn’t quite enough. Typically we think now we have understood when we have now not.

This points out another characteristic of culture sure language; that it exists within a bigger entity, that localized varieties exist. What’s comprehensible to a person from one region could also be unintelligible to at least one from another. If this is true within the community of a particular set of users of 1 language, how much more must it hold true to learners of that language. Many a learner of English, feeling herself proficient, has gone to England only to find the language at worst totally unintelligible, and at greatest emblematic, however still not totally comprehensible.

The ‘cultural weighting’ of any language, in the form of idiomatic phrases, is understood by members of that cultural community, or perhaps 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 another culture or even one other speech community, albeit ostensibly within the identical culture.

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