Language is a key driving force in today’s society, and understandably so. Without apt communication, everything from the way we interact with our families, to how we keep ourselves entertained would be drastically different. The languages we grow up speaking can act as a form of identity, letting the people around us know where we’re from and in some cases, the cultures we may have grown up with, but how much of that language actually affects culture? We explore below.
How Other Languages Influence Our Own
There are thousands upon thousands of languages active today and while not all are as widespread as the likes of English, Mandarin, French or Spanish, each one is unique. Beyond just individual words, languages can have their own sentence structures which completely change how a certain sentence is perceived. When each individual language is exposed to other languages over the longer term, however, this can change and adapt according to alternative languages. By understanding more about the languages and how they’re formed, we can start to get a better insight into the culture behind the language.
Creating And Spreading Stereotypes
In some languages, the way sentences are formed and words are chosen can actually build and develop stereotypes in language. In some languages, such as English, generic language can actually fuel stereotypes. For example, a study conducted in 2012 at New York University found that a sentence as simple as “boys have short hair” could lead to a stereotype that only boys could have short hair and that it would be abnormal for a girl to have the same. The grammatical structure of some languages makes this far less prominent, though has the potential to create alternative stereotypes dependant on the topic at hand.
Whether it’s the language, or languages, that you speak, or the words and dialect you use within that language, our lexicon can not only express our identity but form changing ones as we grow. Take slang, for example – every generation will have their own particular word choices that other age groups may not immediately understand. This kind of language variation can help form a stronger sense of identity within and familiarity with those around them, whether of a similar age or who may have similar interests.
The language we use helps us to not only express our identity, but the mix of languages in the world can influence the culture we adopt individually, or as a community.