Minggu, 06 Juni 2010

LANGUAGE AND CULTURE

LANGUAGE AND CULTURE

Lado (1974: 23) says that language is part of the culture of a people and the chief means by which the members of a society communicate. A language is both a component of culture and a central network through which the other components are expressed. It means that by knowing the style of a person speak and uses a language; it reflects the culture of a person and can show where a person comes from. It is almost same as Corder’s argument about language and culture. Corder (1973: 70) argues that language mediates between the individual and the culture. It means that culture influences the way people use the language. People who come from different culture will use different style of language even they come from the same country. Language and culture are correlated because the sounds, words, and syntax of a language are related to the ways the speakers of that language experience and behave in it.

Even we live in Java, we have different term in refers something same. For the term ‘ibumu’ or ‘your mother’, people in Pati say ‘ibunem’ but people in Yogyakarta say ‘ibumu’. People in Yogyakarta say ‘goce’an’ but people in Pati say ‘cekelan’. So it is clear that different are a person come from will result different language that they used. There are also some Javanese language styles spoken by people who live in Java. People live in Yogyakarta spoken smooth Javanese (bahasa Jawa halus) and people from Tegal spoke different Javanese language which called ‘bahasa Jawa ngapak’.

Different ideas stem from differing language use within one’s culture and the whole intertwining of these relationships start at one’s birth. From birth, the child’s life, opinions, and language are shaped by what it comes in contact with. The interactions between persons or groups vary widely from place to place. Then the behavior is formed. Behaviors which are acceptable will vary from location to location thus forming the basis of different cultures.

Everyone’s views are dependent on the culture which has influenced them, as well as being described using the language which has been shaped by that culture. The understanding of a culture and its people can be enhanced by the knowledge of their language. Even though people are brought up under similar behavioral backgrounds or cultural situations but however speak different languages, their world view may be very different. Different thoughts are brought about by the use of different forms of language. One is limited by the language used to express one’s ideas. Different languages will create different limitations, therefore a people who share a culture but speak different languages, will have different world views. Still, language is rooted in culture and culture is reflected and passed on by language from one generation to the next

Because of that the Eskimos have many words for snow because every day they experience the condition of “snowing” more often than other people from different countries. Indonesia doesn’t pass snow or winter season, so Indonesian only knows snow for snow. The other hand America has winter season but Eskimo has greater number for the term snow than American. It is because every day of Eskimo’s life is with snow. Different experience and culture will result different language that people used.

It’s almost same as Indonesians way. Indonesians have so many names for the term banana. Indonesia is a tropic country and banana is a kind of fruit which can grow up easily in Indonesia. So, there are so many kinds of banana and Indonesians have so many terms for banana for example; pisang kapok, pisang susu, pisang raja, pisang putri etc. it is different from Americans way in stating banana. Americans doesn’t care about the kind of banana. Americans only know that a long, curved fruit with a yellow skin is called banana. So, it is clear enough that different though, different feeling, different experience and different culture wilt result the differences language that is used. Language is always to express ideas, feelings, experiences and cultures.

1. CULTURE AND ANTHROPOLOGY

a. Culture

Lado (1974: 24) says that man has been a social being and has lived in society, so he has developed patterned ways of doing things and talking about them that facilitate the communication and interaction necessary for social living. When these patterned ways of acting, talking, thinking, and feeling become sufficiently uniform in a society and sufficiently different from those of other societies, they constitute a culture. So language takes important role in a society. Language reflects thinking and feeling of a society. Thought and feeling of a society is different from another society, so a culture of a society is also different from another society’s culture.

Based on Sapir’s theory which is quoted by Cooper (1973: 99), culture is defined as “what a society does and think” Each society has different ways of thinking, expressing ideas and interpreting messages; thus, each society has different cultural background. The way of thinking, expressing ideas and interpreting messages are influenced by their experience and cultural background. The experience and cultural background of a society is different from another society and as the result different society has different culture.

The Eskimos of the cold Arctic regions have many different words of snow. The words refer snow is based on the Eskimos experience with snow. Snow is very important for Eskimos so based on daily experience with snow; Eskimos born some words refer to snow. It is very different from the other country done. The country which has no experience with snow and argue that snow doesn’t become the important thing will know snow as the snow.

In the other hand, Lado (1974:24) also says that when a person comes into contact with people of another culture, he may notice that they speak a different language, dress differently, and have some characteristics of behavior that identify them as members of a different society. People from Lombok are identical with their Muslim and their accent and language that they used are different from the way Javanese speak and use language. When people from Lombok come to Java, automatically the way they speak and dress are different from the way Javanese speak and dress. The Javanese can identify that they come from Lombok by hearing and identify the way they speak and dress.

Claire Kramsch argues that Culturerefers to what has been grown and groomed (from the Latin colere: to cultivate). The words culture evokes the traditional nature/nurture debate. Are human beings mainly what nature determines them to be from birth or what culture enables them to become through socialization and schooling?

b. Cultural Anthropology

Cultural anthropology is one of four or five fields of anthropology (the holistic study of humanity). It is the branch of anthropology that examines culture as a meaningful scientific concept. Cultural anthropologists study cultural variation among humans, collect observations, usually through participant observation called fieldwork and examine the impact of global economic and political processes on local cultural realities.

One of the earliest articulations of the anthropological meaning of the term "culture" came from Sir Edward Tylor who writes on the first page of his 1897 book: “Culture, or civilization, taken in its broad, ethnographic sense, is that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society.”

The core is same as Tylor, but Lado (1974) likes to say that cultural anthropology is a branch of anthropology which seeks to describe the structure of a culture as completely and neatly as possible. So, the kinds of structure which build the culture are explained in cultural anthropology. Cultural anthropology seeks not merely to portray a culture by recording it in greater or less detail, but more importantly to identify its structure. Knowledge, belief, art, morals, law and custom are explained and described in cultural anthropology.

c. Cultural Anthropology and the Language Teacher

Lado (1974: 25) since the language teacher teaches culture when he teaches language and since in teaching a language he must touch upon the cultural content that language serves to communicate, he should welcome the information and understanding that cultural anthropology supplies. It means that the language teacher teaches a language and the cultural content that is necessary if one is to know and use the language. When an English teacher teaches English automatically he should teach English culture. It is because English culture is very important to be known by the students who learn English.

Teachers must instruct their students on the cultural background of language usage. If one teaches language without teaching about the culture in which it operates, the students are learning empty or meaningless symbols or they may attach the incorrect meaning to what is being taught. The students, when using the learnt language, may use the language inappropriately or within the wrong cultural context, thus defeating the purpose of learning a language. Cultural anthropology is useful to the language teacher in determining the cultural context of what he teaches. It is very useful when students are in society and face the society directly.

2. CULTURAL CONTENT IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE LEARNING

a. Goal: Expression and understanding

Differences in cultural meaning across languages are a problem in learning a second language. Language teachers must remember that people from different cultures learn things in different ways. Indonesians will way in learning English is different from Chinese way in learning English. Because of that Lado (1974: 25) states that the goal of learning a foreign language are the ability to use it, understanding its meaning and connotations in terms of the target language and culture, and the ability to understand the speech and writing of natives of the target culture in terms of their meaning as well as their great ideas and achievements.

If the target language is English, it means that in achieving the goals, the ability of students in using English must be measured. In the other hand, if the students understand the meaning and connotation in term of English and culture of English it means that the goal is achieved. Students also mush have the ability to understand the speech and writing of native of English. If those are done well, the whole goals of learning English as foreign language is achieved.

Lado (1974:25) also says that there are three streams of influence that effect the cultural content involved in language learning: the romantic clichés and prejudicial distortions that often constitute the students’ image of the target culture, the literature and great achievements of the target culture and the last is the study of a culture as a constructed system of patterned behavior as the characteristic ways of people. The last means that every people have their own way in learning something for example culture. Each student has different way and ability in learning or understanding the material given.

When a teacher introduces language teaching materials, such as books or handouts, they must understand that these will be viewed differently by students depending on their cultural views (Maley 1986). So teacher must takes place himself as a student who doesn’t know and understand the material yet. Teacher must give explanation detail and uses languages that can be understood by the students in order that the students understand the material given.

When I teach English especially for speaking class, the student and teacher must use English fully even in giving instruction for the students. If my students do not understand the instruction that I give, directly I give the example of the instruction. The other example, when my students do not understand of the meaning of a word, I do not tell the meaning in Indonesian but I give the explanation and the example in English. For example when the student do not know the meaning of word ‘fragrant’ I do not tell the meaning in Indonesia but I let them identify and guessing by themselves by giving them example ‘flowers are fragrant’ or ‘perfume is fragrant’ and as the result the student understand that the meaning of ‘fragrant’ is ‘wangi’ in Indonesian.

b. False Clichés

Lado (1974: 26) says that it is necessary to understand the structure of cross cultural communication so that the misconception involved in the false clichés may be exploded by pointing out the facts in their setting in the framework of the target culture and not as they might be interpreted from the outside. The understanding of the structure of the target culture and of cross cultural communication is important also because teacher lack full descriptions of the major cultures of the world.

In learning English as the target language, the understanding of culture of English is very important. Besides comparing the target language with the first language is also important. It is in order to understand about cross cultural between two languages. Because language is so closely entwined with culture, language teachers entering a different culture must respect their cultural values. As Englebert (2004) describes: “…to teach a foreign language is also to teach a foreign culture, and it is important to be sensitive to the fact that our students, our colleges, our administrators, and, if we live abroad, our neighbors, do not share all of our cultural paradigms.”

c. Literature and Great Achievement

Hantrais (1989) puts forth the idea that culture is the beliefs and practices governing the life of a society for which a particular language is the vehicle of expression. While Lado (1974: 26) says that the term ‘culture’ in fact was used largely to denote the possession of the speech; knowledge and manners of those studied the classic. The twentieth century, through it revolutionary advances in transportation and communication, has brought all but the most isolated of men in contact with other cultures and other languages.

The purpose of learning a foreign language has changed. It changes into great literature, art, science, technology and language. But it seems to be a conflict between the study of language for its literature and great achievements on one hand and the anthropological view of culture on the other. Actually all of those relate and complement each other. The limit of responsibility as to cultural anthropological meaning was set as the necessary to speak with understanding and to understand native speech.

Technical and nontechnical information made a distinction. Technical information is defined as that which is necessary for the performance of one’s job or professional work. While nontechnical information is defined as an appreciation of the major work of literature of a people for educated person in that culture. So in technical information, literary critics must know a great deal about literature and criticism that is not generally known by educated persons other than literary critics.

d. Linguistic-Cultural View

The meaning of units of expression such as words, idioms, and proverbs is called Elementary Meaning Units (EMU). EMU in the culture and differ from culture to culture and therefore from language to language (Lado, 1974: 28). English has ‘eye’ which is meant one of two organs in face which is used to see with. In Indonesia it meant ‘mata’ and in Javanese it meant ‘mripat’ for human and for animal ‘moto’. Javanese say that human have ‘mripat’ and animals have ‘moto’. Eskimos do the same way as Javanese, the various words that Eskimos have for snow represent different EMU’s in the culture and so do the Javanese in term ‘eye’.

Those IMUs point to the need for understanding a foreign culture through its own language rather than through translation. It is because everything is rendered in IMUs of the native language of the students, color or obscures the EMUs of the target language and its culture. Understanding everything about foreign or target language through native language of students will make learning easier, clearer and students understand faster. This also may avoid misunderstanding of the outsiders.

3. CULTURAL PATTERNS AND INDIVIDUAL

Lado (1974: 29) states that two types of variations which are sub cultural and individual are important to be distinguished in cultural meaning and patterns.

a. Subcultural Variations and Individual Freedom

Lado (1974: 29) says that social and educational differences within any given area also constitute sub cultural variations. As the example sub cultural variations in English world speaking are for example, the regional cultural differences represented by the United States, England, Australia etc. in Indonesia there is Javanese speaking in Yogyakarta, Bandung, Tegal, Surabaya and also Madura.

For individual freedom Lado (1974: 29) argues that in addition to group variations, individuals within a culture may follow, approve, and support some or its entire pattern, or may not follow, may disapprove and even resist them. The pattern themselves may in many instances allow for more than one position within the culture. The case for example is in elections, where the voters are given a choice.

b. Cultural Relativity and Ethical Value

In Great Britain automobiles are driven on the left and it becomes the proper one in Great Britain. But it is improper in Indonesia, because in Indonesia automobiles are driven on the right. This phenomenon is suitable with the principle that the ways of different cultures are valid within the culture themselves has a limitation based on the unity of the human race and the ethical nature of man (Lado, 1974: 29). Cultures like individuals are subject to restriction stemming from the ethical nature of man. If individual of another culture is judges, this must be done within the framework of that culture, which is turn this subject to the broader ethical framework of human race.

4. LEARNING CULTURE CONTENT

a. Influence of Native Culture

Valdes (1986) argues that not only similarities and contrasts in the native and target languages have been useful as teaching tools, but when the teacher understands cultural similarities and contrasts, and applies that knowledge to teaching practices, they too become advantageous learning tools. While Lado (1974: 30) argues that the students learn the target culture not from scratch as he learned his native one, but with the experience, meanings, and habits of his native culture influencing him at every step. For example, Indonesian who learn English will say thank you and honor for so many people who are important in the beginning of a speech although he/she speech in English. Actually English is direct and they do not say thanks for a lot of people in the beginning of a speech but only say thanks for the most important and influence person.

Lado (1974: 300 also argues that the native culture experience will facilitate learning the patterns that are sufficiently similar to function satisfactorily when transferred. The native culture experiences will interfere with those cultural patterns and meanings that are not equitable with similar ones or that are partly similar nut function differently in the target culture. So when students learn English as the second language or as a foreign language, it cannot be separated from their native or own language.

b. Target Language Versus Native Language

Since the EMUs of the native language are different from those of the target language, the study of the cultural content of the target language through the native language of the students gives him no experience in understanding the EMUs of the target culture (Lado, 1974: 30). Learning cultural content through the target language will not only identify the EMUs of the target culture but will give the students freedom to extend his understanding of the target culture independently according to their interest.

c. Motion Picture and Other Visual Aids

Lado (1974: 30) states that motion pictures made in the setting of the target culture provide a powerful medium for giving the students experience in cultural meanings within his control of the language. It can be so appropriate and inappropriate. When it the language used is inappropriate, it can be substituted. While, color slides are another good tool for learning cultural content. The teacher has to responsible of guiding the students into genuine experience in the foreign culture patterns and meaning.

d. Two Stages in Learning Cultural Content

Lado (1974: 31) argues that some control of the language has been achieved; cultural content may be learned through the target language in systematic and more comprehensive assignment. The degree of control of the language required for shifting to this second stage is admittedly a matter of opinion.

Language and culture are intertwined to such an extent whereas one cannot survive without the other. It is impossible for one to teach language without teaching culture. The implications for language teaching and policy making are therefore vast and far reaching. As a teacher of language, one must be culturally aware, considerate of the students` culture, and inform students of cultural differences thus promoting understanding. Language policy must reflect both the target language culture as well as the students`, teacher`s, and administrative persons` culture thus avoiding any cultural misinterpretations.

REFERENCE

Cooper, David E. (1973). Philosophy and the Nature of Language. London: Longman Group Ltd

Corder, S.P. 1973. Introducing Applied Linguistics. England: PenguinBooks Ltd

Englebert. 2004. Character or Culture. An EFL Journal, 24(2), 37-41.

Lado, Robert. 1974. Language Teaching. New Delhi: Tata McGraw Publishing

Maley, A. 1986. XANADU A miracle of rare device’: the teaching of English in China. In JM Valdes (ed) Culture bound: bridging the cultural gap in language teaching. Cambridge: Cambridge University
Press, pp 102–111

Tylor, Edward. 1920 [1871]. Primitive Culture. New York: J.P. Putnam’s Sons.1

Valdes, JM. 1986. Culture bound: bridging the cultural gap in language teaching. Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press.

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