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’s appropriate, what is normal, what is acceptable when dealing with different 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 knowledge of the ages handed down to the present. We are affected by it, and it is affected by us. Tradition is in a relentless 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 the use of idiomatic language. Idiomaticity is arguably the commonest form of language, by way of percentages of the whole. Idiomatic language, most often found within the form of phrases consisting of more than one word, typically does not conform to say the grammatical structure of non-idiomatic language. For example, within the phrase, 'at massive’, as used in the expression, 'the general public at massive’, or in the sentence, 'The escaped convicts were at giant for 2 weeks before being recaptured.’, the preposition 'at’ appears earlier than what seems to be an adjective, 'large’. This appears to be in direct contradiction to the 'normal’ place such a part of speech occupies in a grammatically correct sentence, viz. before a noun, reminiscent of in the following examples, 'at house’, '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 that means more clear, has an opaque quality where semantic which means is anxious, and maybe still retains a few of its opacity of which means even within the context of a sentence.
To members of the community utilizing such idiomatic language, there’s tacit agreement on what these phrases mean, despite their opaque quality. Idioms are cultural entities.
To learners of a foreign language, any foreign language, culture imbues language with this opacity. The word, table is easily understood and learned, however what in regards to the phrase, 'to table a motion’? That phrase carries a cultural value that isn’t readily appreciated or obvious to a learner. The that means doesn’t reside in the individual words that make up the phrase. The verb, 'to table’ must initially seem nonsensical to a learner. Likewise, 'a motion’ should appear like an anachronism, having realized that motion is a synonym for the word 'movement’.
Each tradition has its own assortment of phrases which might be peculiar to it, and whose meanings should not readily apparent. Had been this not so, George Bernard Shaw’s adage that America and Britain are two nations separated by the identical language would have no ironical appeal. Ostensibly, we speak the identical language, the British and the Individuals, but each varieties use many alternative words, and have many various phrases which might be typically mutually unintelligible, and typically uttered very differently. Typically only the context in which a phrase or word is used serves to disentangle. Generally even the context is just not quite enough. Typically we think we have understood when we’ve not.
This factors out another characteristic of tradition bound language; that it exists within a bigger entity, that localized varieties exist. What is understandable to a person from one region may be unintelligible to at least one from another. If this is true within the community of a particular set of users of one language, how much more must it hold true to learners of that language. Many a learner of English, feeling herself proficient, has gone to England only to find the language at worst totally unintelligible, and at best emblematic, however 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 maybe more accurately, 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 tradition or even another speech community, albeit ostensibly within the identical culture.
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