The Relationship between Language and Culture
A Simple Example
By Amirreza Modaressanavi
The power of language to influence culture today is not hidden from anyone. Language can be regarded as the verbal manifestation of cultures. The language expresses many categories of our minds and shows what values are important in our country or place of residence. But is it really possible to illustrate the relationship between language and culture or to understand it more tangibly?
There are no words “left or right” in Pormpuraaw, a remote language in Australian tribes. Instead, it uses geographical directions, like north, southeast or west. For example, such sentence should not surprise you: Your southwest leg hurts.
In one study, a series of photographs of people from childhood to old age were given to three groups and asked to arrange them: English, a language written from right to left (such as Farsi). And the people of this Australian tribe. The result was very interesting:
- English speakers arranged photos from left to right.
- People in languages like Farsi: arranged photos from right to left.
- If they were to the south, people in the Australian tribe would take pictures from left to right (east to west) and if they were to the north, they would select from right to left (east to west).
In this simple example we can see how close the relationship of language and culture is. By learning different languages, we can expand our knowledge of different cultures at the same time.