Relative Points of View: Linguistic Representation of Culture

Relative Points of View: Linguistic Representation of Culture

Relative Points of View: Linguistic Representation of Culture

Relative Points of View: Linguistic Representation of Culture

Synopsis

The relationship between language and various kinds of non-linguistic behavior has been of great fascination for many of those working in the fields of cultural anthropology, linguistics, and philosophy, or, broadly understood, cultural studies. The authors in this volume explore this relationship in a number of cultures and social contexts and discuss the problem of linguistic relativism and its application to several areas of social interaction across cultures. The authors deal with such questions as how language and culture intersect resulting in different points of view on reality that are all equally authentic and rooted in experience. The question of the influence of language and culture on our perceptino of physical and social reality is re-examined for such domains as politics, commerce, working with people, religion, and gender relations.

Magda Stroinska teaches in the Department of Modern Languages, McMaster University.

Excerpt

When I first began to think of this volume, I had a pretty welldefined picture of the field that I hoped the book would cover. I saw it as a collection of essays that would present some nonstandard areas of interaction between culture and language. The aim was to show, using examples from several of those areas, that communication is an interplay of many factors that go beyond language and culture. On one hand, language itself is not transparent and neutral, and some of its properties and devices, such as the use of metaphor, may have an impact on our perception of issues and events. On the other hand, factors such as gender, profession, religion, social position, etc., along with our ethnicity and linguistic background, influence the way we speak and understand others.

When the first chapters started to arrive, I realised that the topic involved more instability, or, indeed, relativity, than I had initially envisaged, because I simply had not thought of all possible forces that may shape discourse. One such example is what happens to metaphorical expressions in reported speech (see Teresa Dobrzyńska’s contribution). At the same time, a pattern began to emerge. Both the additional factors themselves - such as gender or religion - and the notions that we started with - those of language and culture - are concepts under construction and not stabile entities. They need to be constantly redefined to reflect the fact that they are not finished and ready-to-use products, but processes.

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.