Language, Culture and Linguistic Evolution Considered
Apr 29, 2016 English Language Learning (ELL) 2573 Views
Ask any linguist if people control language or does language control them and you will get reasoning and answers completely different each time. Thus, it is a conundrum always open for debate. We know that humans process information using the words that they speak, the definitions of these words and their meanings are therefore omnipresent in their minds and subconscious as they go about their daily endeavors. One professor put it to me this way;
"Are people whose first language is one of the romance languages with their gender assignments to all nouns more outgoing in their expression of affections? If so, is it because of the language, or did some early Italian tribes that had that attribute evolve a language that was attuned to their culture? We can spin the globe and ask similar questions about the linkage between cultural norms and the attributes of the local language that seem to be at least attuned to those norms. I suspect that there is no easy answer to this question."
Indeed our resident Linguistics professor makes great points about language and thought, culture and the 'chicken-egg' conundrum. In the US there was a Native Indian tribe with some 50 words for "love" - love of a mother, love of a daughter, couple, nature, food, water, stars, etc. in their language. Did that tribe live more peaceful than the other tribes some 8,000 years ago. Turns out the answer seems to be yes. They were less war mongering, but just as territorial, like the difference between Bonobos and Chimps I suppose, maybe Jane Goodall could tell us if our sub-species has a language or less hostile tone too?
Please watch the YouTube Linguistics Video and TED Talk: "Could Your Language Affect Your Ability to Save Money" by Keith Chen.
Now then, yes we can travel the world and see how language affects thought, planning, culture and thus, potential future outcomes can't we? A rich language is honorable and preferable I would guess, however a universal and simple use of language which can be shared across said Pale Blue Dot is also quite preferable. Since English seems to be the Business Language and Internet Language of the world and since we would like to bring the world closer together using those mechanisms, I would like to think that too stringent a set of rules upon its use could avail us to something less than optimal in the outcome of our mission for let's say Whirled Peas, if you please?
Personally, I do enjoy the TED Talks on this subject and completely enjoyed the reality an implications of saving ancient or old languages, so very interesting indeed. Please familiarize yourself with this topic and then let's talk some more in the next linguistics article.