Culture 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’s appropriate, what’s 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 way in which they will say it. It lets us know how they will act, and how 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 continuing state of flux, altering incrementally, changing 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, in terms of percentages of the whole. Idiomatic language, most frequently found 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 general public at massive’, or in the sentence, 'The escaped convicts had been at large for two weeks earlier than being recaptured.’, the preposition 'at’ seems before what appears to be an adjective, 'large’. This appears to be in direct contradiction to the 'regular’ place such a part of speech occupies in a grammatically appropriate sentence, viz. earlier than a noun, such as within the following examples, 'at dwelling’, 'at work’, 'at the office’ et al. The phrase, 'at giant’ showing on the web page in isolation from any context that would make its which means more transparent, has an opaque quality the place semantic that 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 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 overseas language, any foreign language, culture imbues language with this opacity. The word, table is definitely understood and realized, but what in regards to the phrase, 'to table a motion’? That phrase carries a cultural worth that isn’t readily appreciated or apparent to a learner. The meaning does not reside within the individual words that make up the phrase. The verb, 'to table’ must initially appear nonsensical to a learner. Likewise, 'a motion’ must appear like an anachronism, having realized that motion is a synonym for the word 'movement’.

Every tradition has its own collection of phrases which are peculiar to it, and whose meanings will not be readily apparent. Were this not so, George Bernard Shaw’s adage that America and Britain are nations separated by the same language would have no ironical appeal. Ostensibly, we speak the identical language, the British and the Americans, however each varieties use many various words, and have many various phrases which might be often mutually unintelligible, and generally uttered very differently. Generally only the context in which a phrase or word is used serves to disentangle. Generally even the context will not be quite enough. Sometimes we think now we have understood when we now have not.

This factors out one other feature of culture sure language; that it exists within a bigger entity, that localized varieties exist. What is understandable to a person from one area could also be unintelligible to one from another. If this is true within the community of a particular set of users of 1 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 seek out the language at worst totally unintelligible, and at greatest 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 appropriately, and more narrowly defined, by the members of that particular speech community, and conversely, just isn’t readily understood by those who come from one other culture or even one other speech community, albeit ostensibly within the same culture.

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