Tradition has been defined as 'the total set of beliefs, attitudes, customs, behaviour, and social habits of the members of a particular society’. Our culture informs us what is appropriate, what’s regular, what is acceptable when dealing with different members of our society. Our culture lets us know what to expect from others, what they will say in certain situations, and the style in which they will say it. It lets us know how they will act, and how they will react. It is the knowledge of the ages handed down to the present. We’re affected by it, and it is affected by us. Tradition is in a continuing state of flux, changing incrementally, changing the way we speak and the way we think, the way we act and the way we react.
That culture is indelibly linked to language is undeniable, for language is a vehicle by which it is transmitted, probably its chief vehicle. One observable way in which language acts as a vehicle for, or a transmitter of, tradition is in using idiomatic language. Idiomaticity is arguably the most typical form of language, in terms of percentages of the whole. Idiomatic language, most often discovered in the form of phrases consisting of more than one word, usually does not conform to say the grammatical structure of non-idiomatic language. For example, in the phrase, 'at large’, as used within the expression, 'the public at giant’, or in the sentence, 'The escaped convicts were at massive for 2 weeks before being recaptured.’, the preposition 'at’ seems earlier than what seems to be an adjective, 'giant’. This appears to be in direct contradiction to the 'regular’ place such a part of speech occupies in a grammatically correct sentence, viz. earlier than a noun, akin to in the following examples, 'at dwelling’, 'at work’, 'on the office’ et al. The phrase, 'at massive’ appearing on the web page in isolation from any context that may make its meaning more transparent, has an opaque quality the place semantic meaning is concerned, and perhaps still retains some of its opacity of which means even within the context of a sentence.
To members of the community using such idiomatic language, there may be tacit agreement on what these phrases mean, despite their opaque quality. Idioms are cultural entities.
To learners of a foreign language, any foreign language, tradition imbues language with this opacity. The word, table is well understood and discovered, however what concerning the phrase, 'to table a motion’? That phrase carries a cultural value that’s not readily appreciated or apparent to a learner. The meaning doesn’t reside within the particular person words that make up the phrase. The verb, 'to table’ should initially seem nonsensical to a learner. Likewise, 'a motion’ should appear like an anachronism, having discovered that motion is a synonym for the word 'movement’.
Each culture has its own collection of phrases that are peculiar to it, and whose meanings are not readily apparent. Were this not so, George Bernard Shaw’s adage that America and Britain are nations separated by the same language would don’t have any ironical appeal. Ostensibly, we speak the identical language, the British and the Individuals, however each varieties use many alternative words, and have many alternative phrases which are usually mutually unintelligible, and sometimes uttered very differently. Typically only the context in which a phrase or word is used serves to disentangle. Sometimes even the context just isn’t quite enough. Sometimes we think we have now understood when we have now not.
This factors out another feature of culture bound language; that it exists within a larger entity, that localized varieties exist. What’s understandable to an individual from one region may be unintelligible to at least one from another. If this is true within the community of a particular set of customers of one language, how much more should it hold true to learners of that language. Many a learner of English, feeling herself proficient, has gone to England only to seek out the language at worst totally unintelligible, and at best emblematic, but still not totally comprehensible.
The 'cultural weighting’ of any language, in the form of idiomatic phrases, is understood by members of that cultural community, or perhaps more accurately, and more narrowly defined, by the members of that particular speech community, and conversely, shouldn’t be readily understood by those that come from another culture and even one other speech community, albeit ostensibly within the identical culture.
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