Each culture has a different set of parameters and guidelines for thought. Learning the language of a new culture means that we have to adjust to those parameters and adapt so that we do not offend anyone who is of that particular culture.
In certain cultures, things that we, as Americans, may do may be offensive to those of different cultures such as in Turkey, it is offensive to put your hands in your front pockets; it is an insult. Belching in America is considered rude to us while in other countries, like Arabia, it is considered a compliment to the cook and is an insult if the person doesn't belch. In other cultures, things that we would normal do that would be "normal" for us may be insulting or rude in those other cultures.
Where language is concerned, one word may mean several things; it may have two related meanings or there may be two words with similar, if not like, meanings and may sound the same but when put into a specific sentence, will have two totally different meanings, depending on the sentence and which language is being used.
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The meaning of a word in the English language may mean something totally different in a target language. So looking at word sets and concept groupings is important to get a translation from English to the other language you are using, correctly. What one word means in English will mean something totally different in another language. Using a word out of its "other-language-context" could have embarrassing or fatal consequences.
When we learn another language other than our native one, we open ourselves up to a different way of thinking as well as a different way of communicating. However, this gives us an opportunity to discover the differences in cultures and the way other people live outside of our culture and our everyday norm. Just as other cultures learn our culture so as not to affront us, so we learn about other cultures for the same reason and also so that we can communicate with people of different languages who happen to speak our language.
English is the most spoken language in the world. It is spoken in fifty two countries as well as in small colonies and territories. It is also the dominant language for internet usage. Even if there are non-English speaking individuals, the English language is increasing in use for the internet, especially in Asia.
The majorities of languages are unwritten and are disappearing at an alarming rate of about one every two weeks and there are no "primitive" languages left and if there are, they are very few and far between.
Every language can create new words so it is not surprising that all language changes throughout time have new words that are added to describe things all the time and the use of language in specific cultures each has words that have their own meaning. What one word means in one language may not mean the same in another language (http://anthro.palomar.edu/language/language_2.htm). Sometimes, words that sound so similar can actually have a different meaning in one or more languages. The acronyms used in language can be very tricky and depending on where you are in the world, or where you come from, a word can be spelled the same, sound the same, but have totally different meanings.
For instance, in evaluating the use of the English language in our culture, we too use acronyms but they are spelled differently and each acronym is used in a different context. For instance: there, their, they're. These words sound the same but each means something different.
"There" = to place something or to show direction such as in "over there," "their" = a possessive noun; and "they're" = a contraction of "they are". Another example would be "one" and "won." One = the number 1, and Won = the opposite of loose.
Just as if we were to go to say, Germany and use the word "der". It could mean either an article or stand for the word "a". Each language has its own meaning of a particular word just as the English language does.
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I work for a man whose native land is in Lebanon. Although he has lived in the Americas for a very long time, and his English is quite good, some of the things that we do are very offensive to him. His way of speaking, though broken at times, is quite fast and sometimes hard to understand especially when he gets angry.
He has the bad habit of "over-talking" people even after he asks them a question. He starts off giving them the opportunity to answer but if the answer gets to a point that he disagrees with, he will talk over that person. To us, in America, this could be considered rude but to his native land, I suppose it could be something that is expected and is normal. However, it is hard to get a word in edgewise when you're talking to him. He wants to be heard and seldom gives anyone he's talking to the chance to be heard but if he is speaking with people of his native land, they will talk over each other. I find it rather humorous to say the least. How do they know what each other is saying if they continually talk over each other?
He can be misunderstood as well. He can say something in English but a person can take it wrong, answer the question or comment on what he has said, but then he gets upset because the person has taken, out of context, what he has said. So, repeating what he has said or repeating the question he has asked is always a wise idea so that the response to his comment or the answer to his question is correct in his eyes.