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How is the western/English culture reflected in its language? watch

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    Do try and think it over!

    By "culture" I mean beliefs, way of life, etc etc.

    Examples I have thought of:

    i) The Finnish 'sisu' means perseverance, determination and strength of will. The New York Times explains 'sisu' as "the word that explains Finland", and the Finns' "favorite word". In order to fully understand Finnish culture, 'sisu' must first be understood.

    ii) In Japanese, there are many politeness levels. This reflects the humility of the Japanese culture.

    What about English?
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    We borrowed a lot of words from other languages and because we are lazy and talk lazy all the words we borrowed have changed to make them easier to say. Look at 'orange' for example. This reflects our laziness and our habit of doing things our way (ie the British Empire).
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    (Original post by Jeffy91)
    We borrowed a lot of words from other languages and because we are lazy and talk lazy all the words we borrowed have changed to make them easier to say. Look at 'orange' for example. This reflects our laziness and our habit of doing things our way (ie the British Empire).
    "Borrowed" :rofl:
    No, we were invaded by various different cultures from Europe and we adopted words from all of their languages as they were ruling us.
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    In Romance languages, we have differing levels of formality, though nowhere near as many as the Japanese. We have the informal and formal 'you' -- English doesn't have a distinction between "you" and "you" because of a gradual disuse of 'Thou', the second-person singular pronoun, which was replaced by 'you', the second-person plural (or formal singular) pronoun. From this, you could say English is an inherently formal language - we don't distinguish between "You" and "Thou" anymore, and just brand everyone with the same pronoun.

    In terms of answering your question on "culture" -- it's less a language of our current culture, and more a language map of our history. Loan words show who we've been in contact with; lexical development shows the line from Saxon times to now; new words constantly seep into our language. There is no one word in the English language which could sum up everything about the British; the English language itself, being a melting pot, sums up being British.

    [[Admittedly, this is the same when applied to American or Australian English, except that their lexicon-specific loan-words are different, because of the different nationalities and creeds they have encountered]]
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    English grammatical and word structures, as well as our vocabulary, are formalised but evolved very differently from Latin-rooted languages like French, Spanish and Italian. When Romance languages evolve, it tends to be top down, with the controlling institute (or institutes) of a language dictating what the new word should be based on Latin roots. There are occasions where words are adopted from other languages, but they tend to be frowned upon (like "le parking" :rolleyes:) and a true substitute is sought as soon as possible. In English, parts of the language evolve from the bottom up. We don't have any controlling institution dictating what the formal terms should be, the OED simply documents what the common populace are using; instead we quickly adopt words from other languages, or just make them up and watch them spread, when a new word is required. Our grammar has also changed significantly from the continental model. We originally shed the neutral gender early on after the Norman Conquest, and then we shed the concept of linguistic genders altogether in the 16-18th Centuries. They're something that anyone has to re-learn when they come from an English speaking country and learn to speak French or Spanish. Our grammar is, on the whole, formalised, but not necessarily formal by any definition.

    I would argue that the inherent informality and flexibility of the English language is representative of Anglo-Saxon liberalism. We don't like enormous government (on the whole - even Labour had to move well into the centre to get elected), we don't like being told what we can or cannot do, and we love the right to say whatever we want, whenever we want, to whomever we want. It also charts English history - the mix of many words from across the world, and the dates at which they entered the English lexicon, could give even a fairly historically illiterate person a rough idea of which societies England and later Britain has interacted with over time.
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    "Faack off" sums up the English quite nicely. :yeah:
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    (Original post by Jeffy91)
    We borrowed a lot of words from other languages and because we are lazy and talk lazy all the words we borrowed have changed to make them easier to say. Look at 'orange' for example. This reflects our laziness and our habit of doing things our way (ie the British Empire).
    :lol: Just so you know, English isn't the laziest culture (with respect to its language) by far~ I know of others ten times worse
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    (Original post by Aphotic Cosmos)
    English grammatical and word structures, as well as our vocabulary, are formalised but evolved very differently from Latin-rooted languages like French, Spanish and Italian. When Romance languages evolve, it tends to be top down, with the controlling institute (or institutes) of a language dictating what the new word should be based on Latin roots. There are occasions where words are adopted from other languages, but they tend to be frowned upon (like "le parking" :rolleyes:) and a true substitute is sought as soon as possible. In English, parts of the language evolve from the bottom up. We don't have any controlling institution dictating what the formal terms should be, the OED simply documents what the common populace are using; instead we quickly adopt words from other languages, or just make them up and watch them spread, when a new word is required. Our grammar has also changed significantly from the continental model. We originally shed the neutral gender early on after the Norman Conquest, and then we shed the concept of linguistic genders altogether in the 16-18th Centuries. They're something that anyone has to re-learn when they come from an English speaking country and learn to speak French or Spanish. Our grammar is, on the whole, formalised, but not necessarily formal by any definition.

    I would argue that the inherent informality and flexibility of the English language is representative of Anglo-Saxon liberalism. We don't like enormous government (on the whole - even Labour had to move well into the centre to get elected), we don't like being told what we can or cannot do, and we love the right to say whatever we want, whenever we want, to whomever we want. It also charts English history - the mix of many words from across the world, and the dates at which they entered the English lexicon, could give even a fairly historically illiterate person a rough idea of which societies England and later Britain has interacted with over time.
    Isn't English a Germanic language (not Romance) ?
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    (Original post by Papkin)
    Isn't English a Germanic language (not Romance) ?
    Yes.

    I don't think I said it was a Germanic/Teutonic language anywhere, did I? Apologies if I did.

    I was trying to separate the formality of the Romance languages, and to a great extent the modern Teutonic languages, from the informality of English, which is a very divergent Teutonic language.
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    (Original post by Aphotic Cosmos)
    Yes.

    I don't think I said it was a Germanic/Teutonic language anywhere, did I? Apologies if I did.

    I was trying to separate the formality of the Romance languages, and to a great extent the modern Teutonic languages, from the informality of English, which is a very divergent Teutonic language.
    Sorry, I might have misintepretted it.
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    By the way, by "western" culture, I mean other English-speaking countries such as Scotland, Ireland, Wales and American. Australia too, if that counts.
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    (Original post by Aphotic Cosmos)
    English grammatical and word structures, as well as our vocabulary, are formalised but evolved very differently from Latin-rooted languages like French, Spanish and Italian. When Romance languages evolve, it tends to be top down, with the controlling institute (or institutes) of a language dictating what the new word should be based on Latin roots. There are occasions where words are adopted from other languages, but they tend to be frowned upon (like "le parking" :rolleyes:) and a true substitute is sought as soon as possible. In English, parts of the language evolve from the bottom up. We don't have any controlling institution dictating what the formal terms should be, the OED simply documents what the common populace are using; instead we quickly adopt words from other languages, or just make them up and watch them spread, when a new word is required. Our grammar has also changed significantly from the continental model. We originally shed the neutral gender early on after the Norman Conquest, and then we shed the concept of linguistic genders altogether in the 16-18th Centuries. They're something that anyone has to re-learn when they come from an English speaking country and learn to speak French or Spanish. Our grammar is, on the whole, formalised, but not necessarily formal by any definition.

    I would argue that the inherent informality and flexibility of the English language is representative of Anglo-Saxon liberalism. We don't like enormous government (on the whole - even Labour had to move well into the centre to get elected), we don't like being told what we can or cannot do, and we love the right to say whatever we want, whenever we want, to whomever we want. It also charts English history - the mix of many words from across the world, and the dates at which they entered the English lexicon, could give even a fairly historically illiterate person a rough idea of which societies England and later Britain has interacted with over time.
    are you ok bro?
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    n00b and other 1337speak words probably reflect that we're tech/games obsessed
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    The eclectic origins of various words from the English language reflect the cultural and ethnic diversity of contemporary western society but they are also indicative of the cultural hegemony held by the British Empire when it occupied such a large amount of the world's territory in the late nineteenth century. Of course, the latter is probably better exhibited by how widely spoken the English language is in various creoles or as a second language in most parts of the world but the Empire caused words from various languages to be assimilated into standard English.

    As Britain's influence in the world grew, the English language grew further and further away from its Germanic roots. It is very interesting to look at the immense difference between the words used in English before the Norman Conquest and those used today as this mirrors the cultures that shaped Britain and the cultures that Britain shaped. It would have been unthinkable that words borrowed from, say, South Asian or Native American languages would be used in English a few hundred years ago but as English speakers had increasing contact with those cultures, they integrated parts of those languages into English.
 
 
 
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