Tradition has been defined as 'the total set of beliefs, attitudes, customs, behaviour, and social habits of the members of a particular society’. Our tradition informs us what is appropriate, what’s regular, what’s acceptable when dealing with other members of our society. Our tradition lets us know what to anticipate from others, what they will say in sure situations, and the manner in which they will say it. It lets us know how they will act, and the way they will react. It’s the wisdom of the ages handed down to the present. We are affected by it, and it is affected by us. Culture is in a relentless state of flux, altering incrementally, altering the way we speak and the way we think, the way we act and the way we react.
That tradition 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 the use of idiomatic language. Idiomaticity is arguably the most typical form of language, by way of percentages of the whole. Idiomatic language, most frequently found in the form of phrases consisting of more than one word, usually doesn’t conform to say the grammatical structure of non-idiomatic language. For example, within the phrase, 'at giant’, as used in the expression, 'the public at massive’, or in the sentence, 'The escaped convicts have been at large for two weeks earlier than being recaptured.’, the preposition 'at’ seems earlier than what appears to be an adjective, 'large’. This seems to be in direct contradiction to the 'normal’ place such a part of speech occupies in a grammatically right sentence, viz. earlier than a noun, resembling in the following examples, 'at residence’, 'at work’, 'on the office’ et al. The phrase, 'at large’ appearing on the web page in isolation from any context that may make its meaning more transparent, has an opaque quality the place semantic which means is worried, and perhaps still retains a few of its opacity of meaning even within the context of a sentence.
To members of the community using such idiomatic language, there is tacit agreement on what these phrases imply, despite their opaque quality. Idioms are cultural entities.
To learners of a overseas language, any international language, culture imbues language with this opacity. The word, table is well understood and learned, however what about the phrase, 'to table a motion’? That phrase carries a cultural value that isn’t readily appreciated or apparent to a learner. The meaning does not reside in the particular person words that make up the phrase. The verb, 'to table’ must initially appear 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 assortment of phrases which might be peculiar to it, and whose meanings are not readily apparent. Have been this not so, George Bernard Shaw’s adage that America and Britain are two nations separated by the identical language would don’t have any ironical appeal. Ostensibly, we speak the identical language, the British and the Americans, however each varieties use many alternative words, and have many various phrases which can be typically mutually unintelligible, and generally uttered very differently. Sometimes only the context in which a phrase or word is used serves to disentangle. Sometimes even the context isn’t quite enough. Sometimes we think we have now understood when now we have not.
This factors out another function of culture sure language; that it exists within a larger entity, that localized varieties exist. What’s understandable to a person from one region could also be unintelligible to one from another. If this is true within the community of a particular set of customers of 1 language, how a lot more must it hold true to learners of that language. Many a learner of English, feeling herself proficient, has gone to England only to search out the language at worst totally unintelligible, and at finest emblematic, but still not fully comprehensible.
The 'cultural weighting’ of any language, within the form of idiomatic phrases, is understood by members of that cultural community, or perhaps more correctly, and more narrowly defined, by the members of that particular speech community, and conversely, will not be readily understood by those that come from another culture or even another speech community, albeit ostensibly within the identical culture.
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