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 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 certain situations, and the way in which they will say it. It lets us know how they will act, and the way they will react. It is the wisdom of the ages handed down to the present. We’re affected by it, and it is affected by us. Tradition is in a constant 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, culture is in the usage of idiomatic language. Idiomaticity is arguably the most common form of language, in terms of percentages of the whole. Idiomatic language, most often 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 instance, within the phrase, 'at massive’, as used in the expression, 'the general public at large’, or in the sentence, 'The escaped convicts had been at massive for 2 weeks earlier than being recaptured.’, the preposition 'at’ appears earlier than what seems to be an adjective, 'massive’. This seems to be in direct contradiction to the 'regular’ place such a part of speech occupies in a grammatically right sentence, viz. earlier than a noun, reminiscent of within the following examples, 'at residence’, 'at work’, 'on the office’ et al. The phrase, 'at giant’ showing on the page in isolation from any context that may make its that means more clear, has an opaque quality where semantic meaning is anxious, and maybe still retains a few of its opacity of meaning even within the context of a sentence.
To members of the community utilizing 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 easily understood and realized, however what about the phrase, 'to table a motion’? That phrase carries a cultural value that is 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’ must 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’.
Every tradition has its own collection of phrases which can be peculiar to it, and whose meanings usually are not readily apparent. Had been this not so, George Bernard Shaw’s adage that America and Britain are two nations separated by the same language would have no ironical appeal. Ostensibly, we speak the identical language, the British and the Individuals, however both varieties use many different words, and have many different phrases which can be usually mutually unintelligible, and sometimes 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. Typically we think we have understood when we have now not.
This points out another feature of culture sure language; that it exists within a larger entity, that localized varieties exist. What is understandable to an individual 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 one 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 find the language at worst totally unintelligible, and at best emblematic, however still not absolutely comprehensible.
The 'cultural weighting’ of any language, within the form of idiomatic phrases, is understood by members of that cultural community, or maybe more appropriately, and more narrowly defined, by the members of that particular speech community, and conversely, is just not readily understood by those who come from another tradition and even one other speech community, albeit ostensibly within the identical culture.
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