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LANGUAGE, THOUGHT AND CULTURE

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Conclusion Language and culture influence our interpretation and representation of reality through Lexis (objects, attitudes) ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: LANGUAGE, THOUGHT AND CULTURE


1
LANGUAGE, THOUGHT AND CULTURE
2
How words shape our views
  • Advertisements weasel words
  • - unsurpassed, ultimate, supercharged,
    the right choice
  • - enriched and fortified food
  • - medium, large, extra large and jumbo
    eggs

3
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5
  • Sentence structuring (Loftus, 1976)
  • Did you see the broken headlight? Vs.
  • Did you see a broken headlight?
  • Shape recognition

6
Political correctness
  • Rest rooms, unmentionables
  • Sanitary engineer, bogármérnök
  • Menedzserasszisztens, gazdasági levelezo

7
  • Negro Black Afro-American
  • Mentally (horizontally/vertically??) challenged
    vs. Szellemi fogyatékos
  • Receiving waters and assimilative capacity
  • Substandard dwellings vs. Slums

8
Does language reflect or shape our world view?
  • Four main views

Universalism Relativism
Language thought Linguistic universalism Linguistic relativism
Thought language Cognitive universalism Cognitive relativism
9
Linguistic universalism
  • Inborn linguistic universals
  • Expressions of time and place
  • I hunt and my child sees me.
  • I will hunt.

10
Lingusitic universals
  • Example SVO components in sentences
  • - 75 of the world's languages
  • SVO (English, French, Vietnamese) or
  • SOV (Japanese, Tibetan, Korean)
  • - 10 - 15 VSO ( Welsh) or VOS (Malagasy)
  • - 10 - 15 free word order (Latin, Hungarian),
  • but SOV common Márta tortát evett.
  • NP and VP as main organising sentence components

11
Cognitive universalism
  • Universal principles of thinking reflect
  • the conditions and limitations of mental
    operations
  • the similar physical and natural environment
  • influence linguistic representation as well.

12
  • Structuring old and new information in sentences
    (theme rheme)
  • There is a chair in the corner.
  • A chair is in the corner.
  • The chair is in the corner.

13
  • Lexis
  • a fellegekben járt
  • over the moon, on top of the world
  • Colours

14
Linguistic relativism The Whorfian hypothesis
  • We dissect nature along lines laid down by our
    native languages. The categories and types that
    we isolate from the world of phenomena we do not
    find there because they stare every observer in
    the face on the contrary, the world is presented
    in a kaleidoscopic flux of impressions which has
    to be organised by our minds - and this means
    largely the linguistic system in our minds.
    (Whorf, 1956212)
  • Determinism vs. Relativism

15
Organising reality Time
  • Hungarian, Russian, Romanian, German
  • Jó reggelt Jó napot
    Jó estét
  • Buna dimineata Buna ziua
    Buna seara
  • Guten Morgen Guten Tag
    Guten Abend
  • English
  • Good morning Good afternoon Good
    evening
  • French
  • Bonjour Bonsoir

16
Organising reality Social relations
  • English
  • You address forms
  • John
  • Aunt Polly could you sign this?
  • Mr. Jones
  • No syntactic marking of verbs

17
  • Russian and French 2 distinctions
  • B? 2nd person plural (no distinction betw.
    Sg./Pl.)
  • Vu2nd person plural (no distinction betw.
    Sg./Pl.)
  • German 2 distinctions
  • Sie verb in 3rd. Person pl. (no distinction
    betw. Sg./Pl.)
  • Romanian 2 distinctions
  • Dumneavoastra 2nd pers./pl.
  • Dumneata 2nd pers./sing.

18
Social relations Hungarian
  • Formal/distant
  • Between strangers
  • From younger adult to older adult
  • Address forms Ön, Maga
  • 3rd. Person sing./pl.
  • Ön is a buszra vár?

19
  • Formal/familiar
  • From child to adult, young to old
  • Family, acquaintances, strangers
  • Address forms Anna néni, Pista bácsi
    (tetszik, tessék) infinitive
  • El tetszik tudni jönni?

20
  • Informal
  • Between friends and intimates
  • Often not reciprocal
  • Increasingly between strangers of the same age in
    public places
  • Address forms
  • Te, Ti 2nd. Pers./ sing. and pl.
  • Láttad már az új fiút?

21
Differences
  • Distancing or bringing closer?
  • English democratic or keeping everyone at arms
    length? (Wierzbicka, 1985)
  • Russian, French, Romanian
  • 2nd pers./pl. formal reference someone present,
    accessible, less distant.
  • German, Hungarian
  • 3rd pers./sing./pl. indicate someone distant, not
    accessible.
  • Hungarian formal/familiar tetszik
  • indicates respect and choice (do you like it?)

22
  • Resulted in ethnocentric evaluations
  • of cultures
  • "whether the Japanese are capable of using
    logical arguments to the degree that other people
    are" ( Hazen, 1986, p.232)
  • Arab rhetoric is characterised by "ideational
    vagueness and formalistic rigidity" (Koch, 1987
    as cited in Hatim, 1997, p. 52)

23
Grounds for criticism
  • Translation
  • Circumlocution (e.g. Hungarian másfélszobás
    lakás)
  • Possibility of acquiring the logical and
    conceptual system of another language.

24
Cognitive relativism
  • Different cultural experiences and ways of life
    result in different conceptualisations of reality
  • Lexis reflecting different physical, natural and
    cultural objects
  • Lexis reflecting values, attitudes
  • Másfél szobás lakás vs. Two-room flat

25
Attitude to money
  • American English
    MAKE money
  • British English EARN
    money
  • Russian 3APA?AT?BAT? EARN money
  • German VERDIENEN EARN money
  • Hungarian KERES SEARCH for money
  • Francia GAGNER WIN/EARN money
  • Romanian CÂSTIGA WIN money

26
Attitude to life and death
  • Hungarian
  • sírva vígad
  • majd meghal a nevetéstol/örömtol
  • halálosan jó/vicces
  • boldogan éltek, amíg meg nem haltak
  • German
  • und wenn sie nicht gestorben sind, dann leben
    sie noch heute
  • English
  • tickled to death
  • and they lived happily ever after

27
Culture-based intellectual traditions
influencing rhetoric
  • Culture-based rhetoric (Kaplan, 1966, 1997)

28
Weak version of the Whorfian Hypothesis
  • Language does not determine thought, but
    probably influences the way we capture and
    remember distinctions.

29
Conclusion
  • Language and culture influence our interpretation
    and representation of reality through
  • Lexis (objects, attitudes)
  • Discourse patterns
  • Pragmatics
  • Rhetoric
  • Wardhaugh (1976) it is possible to talk about
    anything in any language.
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