Lecture 14 3/6/2013 10:29:00 AM
Is it enough to simply learn the appropriate sounds, lexicon and grammatical
rules to know the right way to speak a language?
Social Context of interaction:
No! to know the right way to speak a language we lso have to be aware of the
appropriate social patterns of interaction
Languages differ in discourse patterns:
English: second person singular or plural
o Second person singular: tu
o Second person plural: vous
o “vous” can also be used in a formal context, to be polite when speaking to
a single individual.
Language differ in discourse patterns
We find different behaviours linked to language in its context of use
o How do we talk?
o When do we talk?
o Where do we talk?
o To whom do we talk?
Ex. Gestures, silence, etiquette, intonation.
Why do discourse patterns vary cross culturally?
They are learned and socially acquires: they depend of socialization
Values and beliefs linked to the appropriate way of speaking are transmitted by
adults to children depending on their culture.
Relationship between language and culture: A different language implies a different way of talking, but also a different way of
thinking, imagining and experiencing the world
We are not free to describe the world impartially:
o We are influences by the modes of interpretation given by our language
o Language influences through i.e. it influences the way we see and
categorize the world.
Does this mean that language determines our way of thinking, imagining and
experiencing the world?
No! if language determines our way of thinking
Each language would be a completely sealed universe
Translation would not be possible.
There is a difference between influencing and determining:
The language one speaks does not limit what is possible to think: that is why
there are original thinkers and creators in all societies
There is a difference between what is possible to think, which is unlimited in any
language, and what people usually thin, which is strongly influenced by a
This theory has been misinterpreted by some scientist who deemed it as
o They wrongly understood it as if language determines thought.
This theory can rather be understood as linguistic relativity
Language does not determine how we view the world:
o It rather gives us a position, a different point of view on the world.
The way speakers of the Western European languages conceive the world is
right, everyone else is wrong: evolutionism
Everyone in the world conceive language in the same way: universalism Each language is a unique sealed universe that must be preserved:
We seek for a comparative approach that prevents us from neglecting how each
culture make different classifications based on their own criteria.
A language which is used among people whose mother tongues are different in
order to facilitate communication between them.
Ex: trade language, contact language, international language (English today),
auxiliary language (Es