The Student News Site of Dyer County School High School

Tribal Media

The Student News Site of Dyer County School High School

Tribal Media

The Student News Site of Dyer County School High School

Tribal Media

Literary Corner

Thinking About Talking

Thinking About Talking

Everyone has heard the phrase “think before you speak,” but have you ever thought about how you speak? Language is vital to our very existence. Since the beginning of time, every civilization has had a form of communication. The way we talk helps form our societies and cultures. Studying language guides us in understanding our culture and who we are.

Language and culture have always gone hand in hand. No linguist can agree on what a language is. Languages are often national or used in that manner. The Chinese government would claim that Cantonese and Mandarin are the same language despite having entirely different lexicons. That said, no one would call Portuguese and Spanish the same language despite having 90% lexical similarity. Languages often represent cultures and have barriers drawn there.

Languages are similarly hard to define because of how languages evolve. British English speakers and American English speakers undeniably have many differences. Moreover, different places within a country have their slang. Are these differences enough to categorize them as a new language? For example, Cajun French holds many phrases no longer used in the standard French lexicon. French has evolved much further than the French still used in Cajun regions. Should we consider Cajun its own language? Spoken near the Cajun region is Haitian Creole. Creoles occur from the mixing of different languages. Several places in the world have mixed lexicons, yet they are not recognized as separate languages. Spanish is another example of language evolution throughout the world. The Spanish spoken in Spain can often be so different from the Spanish spoken in Latin American countries that children who grew up in Hispanic homes will struggle with Spanish classes. The grammar and vocabulary are so different they can’t breeze through the class teaching European Spanish. This raises the question, should every culture have its own language?

Defining language based on its cultural and national usage isn’t the only way it helps to understand different cultures. Studying the etymology of a language shows the roots of what created the culture that uses the language. For example, the word nice comes from the Latin word nescius, meaning unaware or ignorant. The thought that nice people were doing so out of ignorance shows how English speakers tend to view acts of niceness. That is not to say everyone who is nice is ignorant; it is to say that English speakers using the word saw kind acts towards a stranger as acts of lack of knowledge, as one doesn’t know anything about the other. The roots of every word show something about the society that evolved the language in the first place. 

Language can’t possibly be defined, so only looking for language definition limits how much you can learn about a culture from the language. Understanding slang from each region and being able to understand others is very important to communication. Knowing multiple languages gives you an ability that should be highly coveted: the ability to speak with others. Knowing the nation’s sign language will help connect with those who are deaf. Knowing the second most common language of the country will give you more opportunities to speak to others. Knowing the language of the tourists visiting your homeland will help you share your culture with them. 

Languages are another aspect of knowledge, though often overlooked. Language helps us understand the culture around us and brings humanity together. Without knowledge of one’s own language and what makes it unique, one knows very little about their culture. Truly understanding language helps to understand people. Understanding people helps to understand the world. Understanding the world brings you to peace with differences others may have. Language is a resource everyone uses but very few people think about it.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
About the Contributor
Zee Campbell, Editor-in-chief
My name is Zee Campbell, and it is my senior year. Writing has always been a passion of mine. I love writing about the things that matter most to me, but I also love writing for fun. My goal is to share how I feel and hope to inform others about every topic I write about. Happy reading!

Comments (0)

All Tribal Media Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *