You need to reflect on your discussion. Are there any similarities or differences in how meaning is created, and how might this matter for people when communicating with others across languages and cultures?
The humans for survival have invented the concept of language. Language has been considered necessary by the people, for the purpose of communication with one another. Language has been a significant component of culture. Language is a methodical form of communication, which can take a diversity of forms and is composed of particular rules pertinent to a language. Language is passed on subsequently from a generation to another (Owens 2016).
Linguistic diversity can be referred to, as a study or specific quantification of language density or concentration of distinctive languages together that can be measured by the Linguistic Diversity Index. The diversity of language is comprised of various types of traits, which include grammar, language family, vocabulary and others (Lupyan and Dale 2015).
The relationship between culture and language has been rooted deeply. Language can be termed as an expression of our identities as an individual; or a community; or a nation. On the other hand, culture can be referred to, as the social systems that are dynamic in nature; and common patters of beliefs, behavior, knowledge, values and attitudes (Hall 2013).
The different types of languages around the world have similar or dissimilar words used for the same idea or concept. An example can be taken to illustrate that, different words are used by different communities to explain the same concept (Sidnell et al.2012). Like in case of ‘Canis lupus familiaris’, it is known as a ‘dog’ in English language, it is known as ‘perro’ in Spanish language, and the Japanese call it as ‘inu’, and so on.
The varieties of languages are also pronounced in diverse and different ways. For example, in case of the pronunciation of ‘r’ in ‘perro’ in the Spanish language has not been familiar to most of the forms or varieties of the English language. Another important fact is that the languages differ by the usage of grammar, from one another (Edwards 2012).
A detailed study can be done to focus on the comparison of the different ways of ordering the parts of a sentence, in different languages. In case of a sentence in English language, the general order followed: is that the subject comes first, followed by the verb and finally the object (Richards and Rodgers 2014). This particular order has not been followed by every language . Such as, the general order followed in the Japanese language is that, the subject comes at first, followed by the object and finally the verb.
A sentence can be taken for example, such as ‘the student bought the book’. In this case: ‘student’ is the subject, ‘book’ being the object and the verb for this sentence is ‘brought’. This form is used in English language. If an example is taken of Welsh language, which is spoken mainly in the Wales region, where the general order followed in a sentence, is that the verb comes at first, then the subject, and finally the object (Jones 2012). The same sentence will be read as ‘prynodd y myfyriwr y llyfr’, like: bought the student the book. The meaning remains the same, but the order followed changes with the change in language, as the verb comes first in this case.
There are further differences in the grammar among languages which are more subtle (Barac and Bialystok 2012). Like, if an example can be cited in the English language, saying ‘I saw you and came here’. The former part of the given sentence, is a complete sentence in its own, but the latter part is not a complete one in its own, as the subject part is missing. As an English speaker, the interpretation of the subject is quite simple, that it means ‘I came here.’ The sentence is not to be interpreted as ‘you came here’.
However, the fact is that, every language does not behave in this manner. If an example of the Dyirbal language can be taken, which is almost an extinct language used by the aborigines of Northeast Queensland, the interpretation of the particular sentence will not be same in this language (Polinsky et al. 2012). As the latter part of the sentence, would be interpreted as ‘you came here’ instead of ‘I came here’. On the other hand, there are features that connect all languages as diverse manifestations of the human language ability.
During the time of my visit to the library, I had an encounter with an elderly woman, who was basically from the south western part of China. Her name was, Bian V?. We met each other in the ‘regional section’ of the library. I assumed that she had an inclination to know about different culture. As she had few books few books in her hand, which included Charlotte Barton’s piece of creation named, A Mother's Offering to Her Children; and ‘Australian legendry tales’ which was a compilation of stories of the aborigines of Australia. Perhaps, she had some difficulty in comprehending, hence approached me asking whether I was originally from Australia or not.
On clearing her doubts and questions regarding the genre and authors of the books of her interest, immediately asked for a gentle favor regarding my assignment. I had a faint questionnaire, for the purpose of knowing the similarities or dissimilarities between different languages and a comparison between the two. The questionnaire was not too rigid, and I was flexible to include the suggestions of the person, who would share her knowledge.
She proved to be of help, as she belonged to a different community distinct from mine. Hence, I could make a comparison. She could converse in English language, though not in a very fluent manner, but was sufficient for my own comprehension. She also seemed to be interested in the topic, and agreed gladly to spare some of her valuable time.
Initially I started off with, the alphabets of her language, Vietnamese. She was equally inquisitive, it seemed. She said that the schools in Vietnam teach the alphabets by using 29 letters, which are: a, b, c, d, e, g, h, i, k, l, m, n, o, p, q, r, s, t, u, v, x, y - ô, ?, â, ?, ê, ?, ?. She had some knowledge regarding the alphabets used in the English language (Pham and Kohnert 2014).
Then I went onto ask about the pronunciation followed in the Vietnamese language. Without being impatient, she started explaining the pronunciation of the alphabets, like, the pronunciation of ‘A a’ would be ‘/a??/’, ‘? ?’ would be pronounced as ‘/a???/’, ‘B b’ would be pronounced as ‘/?e?, ?????/’, the alphabet ‘C c’ would be pronounced as ‘/se?, k????/’ and so on. The pronunciation is inclusive of both the uppercase and the lowercase.
Patiently I asked the next question which enquired about the rules used in grammar, the order followed to construct a sentence in Vietnamese. She pointed that a sentence in Vietnamese follows the same order that is followed in English language, that is, subject, followed by the verb and finally the object. For example, Anh yêu em, where ‘anh’ is the subject meaning I, yêu is the verb meaning love and em is the object, which means you.
Then I enquired about the way of addressing a person, both male and female. She said that there are certain variations in the method of addressing a person, like: in case of addressing a male of similar age, ‘you’ can be addressed as ‘anh’. This is also used in a formal conversation. ‘Chi’ can be used to address an older female. ‘Chau’ can be used to make a conversation with a child. ‘Em’ can be used for addressing to cover both the formal as well as informal conversations.
At the end of my interaction, I asked a number of questions regarding the language, grammar and culture of the Vietnamese’, which included addressing nouns. Information have also been collected regarding the countable and uncountable nouns used in Vietnamese language. As we generally use ‘s’ in case of plurals, like pens, flowers, and the uncountable nouns are kept as it is, such as air, water, et cetera. In Vietnamese, ‘containers’ are used for uncountable nouns, just like the English language.
Conversely, in case of countable nouns, ‘classifiers’ or a ‘word for measure’ would be put in front. For example, in case of a sentence: ‘I have a book’. The translation in Vietnamese, would be Tôi có m?t sách, meaning I have a book.
Throughout the interaction with Bian, I had been a keen observer and a patient listener. Indeed it was a very interactive session. There was an exchange of knowledge about language, culture, diversities, variations, similarities as well as differences, and the like. There are a lot of variations among the language across the world. Starting from the alphabets, construction of sentences, the rules relating to grammar usage like the usual order followed in construction of a sentence, pronunciation of words, and others.
People often use different words for the same concept. The pronunciations are different for a particular word. Hence, it is observed that diversities exist but nevertheless, there have been features that connect all the languages as diverse manifestations of the human language ability.
Barac, R. and Bialystok, E., 2012. Bilingual effects on cognitive and linguistic development: Role of language, cultural background, and education. Child development, 83(2), pp.413-422.
Edwards, J., 2012. Multilingualism: Understanding linguistic diversity. Bloomsbury Publishing.
Hall, J.K., 2013. Teaching and researching: Language and culture. Routledge.
Jones, H.M., 2012. A statistical overview of the Welsh language. Cardiff: Welsh Language Board.
Lupyan, G. and Dale, R.A., 2015. The role of adaptation in understanding linguistic diversity. Language structure and environment: Social, cultural, and natural factors, pp.287-16.
Owens Jr, R.E., 2016. Language Development: An Introduction| Edition: 9. Instructor.
Pham, G. and Kohnert, K., 2014. A longitudinal study of lexical development in children learning Vietnamese and English. Child development, 85(2), pp.767-782.
Polinsky, M., Gallo, C.G., Graff, P. and Kravtchenko, E., 2012. Subject preference and ergativity. Lingua, 122(3), pp.267-277.
Richards, J.C. and Rodgers, T.S., 2014. Approaches and methods in language teaching. Cambridge university press.
Sidnell, J., Enfield, N.J., Duranti, A., Heritage, J., Leavitt, J., Michael, L., Silverstein, M., Woolard, K.A., Zinken, J., Enfield, N.J. and Sidnell, J., 2012. Language diversity and social action: A third locus of linguistic relativity. Current Anthropology, 53(3), pp.000-000.
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