For instance, you might greet one of your aunts with the name “??”, which effectively means “father’s older sister”, or you might call another aunt “?? ” which means “father’s younger sister”. Paternal and maternal grandparents are each named differently aswell. There is a distinction between your father’s father “?? ” and your mother’s father “?? “. In addition, you would usually identify your siblings with different names depending on if they are older (?? )or younger (?? ) than you. This makes each family member more important, in the sense that there is emphasis on how everybody relates to each other. Everybody has a sense of identity and place within the family.
A second point relating to “relational titles” is that every time I greet my paternal grandfather, it would be more polite to greet him with “?? (paternal grandfather)! “, rather than the western “hello! ” greeting. Many children will refer to their elders with these names, as a sign of respect to those who are older, but it is rarely used the other way around. My grandfather would therefore call me by my given name. It is evident that there is much emphasis on the family culture in China, which can be seen through the use of “relational titles”, which does not seem to be present in western culture.
Additionally, there is emphasis in Chinese culture to speak respectfully to one’s elders, as can be seen by the fact that younger people use these towards their aunts, uncles and grandparents, but not vice versa. These examples illustrate the linguistic relativity theory in terms of the use of lexis. Jandt (2009) states that “you can assume that if a language has a particularly rich vocabulary for a thing or activity in comparison to other languages, that thing or activity is important in that culture.
” This appears to be true in the case of the Chinese culture – the vocabulary for different family members is extensive. Language and the Ghanaian Culture – “Mom” A common saying in Ghana is “it takes a village to raise a child”. Many Ghanaian women will act like mothers towards their children’s friends. This is reflected in their language, as it is usual for children or young adults to call their friends’ mothers “mom”. The difference between the Ghanaian culture and the Canadian culture was noticeable for Macrina when she moved to Canada.
She still thinks of her friends’ mothers as “moms”, but tries to refrain from using the word “mom” with them even though that has been a large part of her world view and culture. This example shows that the way you address someone from one culture can influence your perception of people you interact with in a different culture. Following on from that idea, a friend’s mother who she mistakenly called “mom” really loved it, and wants Macrina to carry on with it – as a result, she treats her like her own daughter, for example giving her money and taking care of her as a mother normally would.
In the framework of linguistic relativity, perhaps her friend’s mother’s perceptions and attitudes were affected by Macrina’s use of the word “mom”. She may not have treated her like a daughter if Macrina didn’t initially start using that word. This coincides with the idea of linguistic relativity – how thoughts, perceptions and beliefs are affected by the way language is used. Language and the Pirahi?? Culture In many (especially Western) societies, time is seen as a commodity.
Language is used to describe time as being “spent” and “wasted”. You can “buy” time, “borrow” time (e.g. “can I borrow a minute of your time? “), “give” time (e. g. “give me one second”), “take” time out of your day, “make” time for meetings, and so on. In contrast, the concept of time is nonexistent in the Pirahi?? language. Linguists such as Dan Everett have attempted to teach tribes in the Pirahi?? villages of Brazil how to read and write (Everett, 2009), but his attempts have generally been unsuccessful. Consequently, the Pirahi?? do not have a numerical or letter system to calculate or represent time. They do not think of time, and they are always living in the present moment.
They do not tell stories in their culture or refer to any events in the past or future. They only communicate through humming and whistling. This could be related to the strong version of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, because if the concept of time cannot be understood through language, then perhaps the language determines or limits whether or not the Pirahi?? can even conceive of such a concept. Pejorative language in the Pirahi?? language When Dan Everett eventually learnt the basics of the Pirahi?? language, he invited a news reporter to visit the village.
Upon arrival, Everett communicated to the head of the tribe that the news reporter would be “staying a short while” in the village. The people responded with “Xai?? i hi goi?? kaisigi?? aihi?? xapagi?? iso”. Everett turned to the reporter and said “they want to know what you’re called in ‘crooked head’. ” The Pirahi?? use the term “crooked head” to refer to any language other than their own, and it is a pejorative or derogatory phrase. This clearly indicates what their world view and beliefs are: languages other than their own are inferior (source: Colapinto, 2007).
In conclusion, it is clear that there is a strong relationship between language, world view and beliefs. These examples have illustrated how language is used across Western, Chinese, Ghanaian and Pirahi?? cultures, and cover various issues such as abortion, family relations, the concept of time, and derogatory language. In addition, I have presented these within the framework of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis.
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