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learning a second language means learning a new culture

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chill out
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learning a second language means learning a new culture

Unread postby chill out » Tue Sep 18, 2007 9:45 am

hi there,
It has been said that learning a second language is a ' master key ' for learning a second culture. Based on your experience, What do you think? Is it true that learning a second language means learning a new culture? If yes, what are those experiences you went through? Do you have any specific experience that proves the given idea?

Waiting to read your comments ..

thanks ...

Lynn
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Unread postby Lynn » Tue Sep 18, 2007 1:31 pm

I'll have a go at this one. When I was about nine or ten, I watched an old Tarzan movie. I don't remember what it was about or any of the action, but I did come away with the definite conviction that if you can understand a person's language, then you can understand how that person thinks! (I am not talking about Tarzan's rapport with the animals, but with his dealings with a group of villagers.) More than forty years down the road, and having studied French, Greek, Hebrew and Cantonese, and now being mostly fluent in Cantonese, I am still convinced of this.

Learning a language is a lot more than grammar and vocabulary. I do not think it is possible to separate language from culture. There is a debate about which one influences the other. Personally, I believe it's a matter of 'you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours'. Culture influences the way we phrase our communication. Language provides a medium for us to express our culture. (Of course, language is only one medium of communication, but it is also the most universal one.)

If you want to prove this, try understanding a joke. The language used, body language, facial expressions, eye contact and pauses all contribute to the joke; and all of these are dictated by the culture that produced the joke. It may be possible to understand all the words of a joke and still not see the humor, but it is impossible to understand the joke if you don't understand the language!

These are just a few of my thoughts on the question. I wonder what new culture and language you are wanting to learn and why. Just my curiosity rearing it's ugly head.

Els
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Joined: Thu Sep 20, 2007 6:42 pm

Re: learning a second language means learning a new culture

Unread postby Els » Thu Sep 20, 2007 7:01 pm

chill out wrote:hi there,
It has been said that learning a second language is a ' master key ' for learning a second culture. Based on your experience, What do you think? Is it true that learning a second language means learning a new culture? If yes, what are those experiences you went through? Do you have any specific experience that proves the given idea?

Waiting to read your comments ..

thanks ...
I sure think that learning a second language is learning about a new culture.
I speak Dutch, German, French, Italian and English, but it is very difficult to point out in which class or sub category a person belongs when you don’t speak the language fluently. Every sub category or subculture uses its own language. Some words are only used in the lower classes and others only in the higher classes even the pronunciation differs.
E.g. once I had an Italian boyfriend, but I was very worried about the fact that he might be in a very different sub culture than I thought he was, just because I couldn’t understand him very well. Maybe he was swearing all the time or using bad language without me knowing it.
Dutch is my mother tongue and I can point out immediately to which sub culture a person belongs, as this is my cultural background. Therefore culture and language are strongly linked together and cannot be seen as separated entities to my point of view.
I hope my reply is useful to you.
Kind regards
Els


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