Human Beings And The Influence Of Language English Language Essay

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This paper explores the relations between the factors that influence the way people think and their behaviour, also here I will explain my opinion about the point of view of Sapir (1921). Factors like the History, culture and geography are useful to analyse if the language is the main point to explain why people do what they do and think what they think.

Before the first meeting with my fellows my point of view was the same that Sapir. Because I thought in the differences between people of different countries and I assumed that the cause was the language, for instance, German people are more structured than the Spanish people and I thought that the language was the principal factor (the Spanish language is more flexible than the German language). But during the first meeting I realised that there are more factors that have a great importance in the way the people think and in their behaviour.

Tsovinar noticed that the geographical conditions and weather are also important in order to understand the way people live. For instance, in the mountains, with cold weather and difficulties to live, the people are ruder than who live in the beaches or the valleys. And that have an influence in the way they speak. Usually, the people in the mountains speak heavier and louder. If we go to the north of Switzerland, the part where people speak German, we can hear the difference between the German spoken in Germany and the German spoken in Switzerland. In this last one country, the people who leave in the Alps, in villages quite separated one from the other, the language is incredibly hard. For me, a beginner in the German language is almost impossible to understand them but also for native German people. And that is the same in many places in Austria and the south of Bavaria. But I do not have to go to another country to explain that, in Spain, near of Madrid, there is a region quite depopulated with villages of less than fifty inhabitants and surrounded by mountains, I go there in many occasions and the Spanish they speak is difficult to understand. They use little statements, in many times they do not finish the words, the pronunciation is loud and so on. Here we can appreciate that to have the same language is not the key point to determinate the thought of the people who speak it.

Ramesh, also brought up a very important point: the culture. Depending on in which culture you grow up, the way you think is completely different. A good example for this point of view is what we have seen during the lecture five of this subject about a man who was talking to a group of people belonging to a tribe in Africa. The story he told was about a man who tried to find a woman he loved, and to do that he had to conquer several difficulties. The people of the tribe could not understand that, because they thought that looking for another woman was easier , they do not have the concept of love that many people have in many places, for instance in Europe or USA. This little example shows that depending on the culture where we grow up, the way to think is completely different. Another example to illustrate the differences produced by the culture in human beings is the way the people celebrate Christmas in Germany. In the north, the people during Christmas receive the visit of the Weihnachtsmann, the equivalence to

Slides of "Media, Cultura and Mind", lecture five.


Santa Klaus in North America, and in the south, people celebrate the Christmas day with the Christkind, who is Jesus when he was just born. It is very interesting the difference between one part and the other. The south is more catholic and that is visible in the representing of Jesus when he was a baby, and in the north the people have traditions imported from Scandinavia and more pagan than in the south. Here we have the same country and the same language but with differences influenced by the history and culture of the country. The south of Germany was nearer to the catholic influence of the Spanish empire in the middle ages and some centuries after that in the regions of Austria and north Italy. But the north of Germany was influenced by Sweden, Norway and Denmark which traditions were completely different. So culture is another point to take into account.

Ramesh also noticed that history is necessary to understand the thought and behaviour of people. To explain this we can also use the case of Germany. Since the last of Second World War, Germany was divided in west and east. In the East Germany, under the communism influence, the Government tried to erase the influence of the Church in the people. After fifty years in this situation, the Christmas in the East Germany is completely non-catholic and different to the way that is celebrated in the rest of Germany. A curiosity of this circumstance is that the people in the east have different names for some icons typical of Christmas (for instance, the angels) that in the rest part of Germany. With this example, we see that History is also a key point determinant to understand the human being's mentality.

After the chats with my fellows I checked some websites to have more information about this issue. This first document was also of this subject, the article of Lera Boroditsky "Linguistic Relativity". In her document she says that if the languages are different, the speakers of each language have to be also different in their perception and behaviour . In this article is exposed also the Whorfian point of view, which assures that "the thought and the action are entirely determined by language" , this is quite similar to the Sapir point of view. Now, I not agree with this statement and a simple but strong reasoning: if the language is the only thing which has an influence in the people, all will have the same thought and behaviour. And that is not true, in each country there are many different political parties because people have different point of views, there are people who like to spend some days in the mountain but there are other who love the beach, there are people who study science and other who study arts. But not only the thoughts, the behaviour is also completely different because I like climb mountains but another one could only love to stay in the couch watching the TV, there are people who loves riding

Lera Borodisky, "Linguistic Relativity"

Whorf, "Language, Thought and Reality: Selected Writings of Benjamín Lee Whorf"


bike and other only go by car. This strict statement does not take in account the different ways of think of the people and also their behaviour.

One of the pages I checked in order to do this essay talked about a group of children in Nicaragua who developed a new sign language . If we apply the point of SAPIR this is not possible because is the language which change us and not vice versa. But actually this is possible, and another example, and this is quite known, is the language created in the 19th century, Esperanto, created by Zamenhof . This is the great proof that the Sapir thesis is not correct. This language was developed by a group of people of many countries and different cultures working all together. In addition, this language is in use like any other and evolves too, like Italian, Portuguese or any other. But a curiosity of this language is that if you want to learn it you only have to study. You can not study the context of this language, I mean, if you want to learn a language is quite important to know the culture of the country where it is spoken, the traditions, the people, and as many data of this language as you can because that is a key point to learn it more easily.

In the paper of Aubrey Neil Leveridge the importance of teaching the culture of the country and not only the language is clear visible that culture influence in the language . In this article a teacher of English in Taiwan exposes the difficult to teach another language in a different culture. The author exposes that the language of a country can help to understand the culture and the people of the country. It is explained also many points which show the completely change of mentality. For instance, the students do not participate in the lectures talking with the teacher if he asks something, at first sight, this is the same that in Spain where students are always silent, but in our case is due to shyness and not because of the reason in Taiwan. There, the education follows the Chinese model and is completely forbidden to interact in the lectures with the teacher. In order to conquer this obstacle, the teacher had to change his role and act like a friend instead of a teacher, because for the students were completely impossible to change their mind.

Moreover, to learn a new language implies to learn the culture as Allwright and Bailey in their paper maintain.

Julianna Kettlewell,

Aubrey Neil Leveridge,

Allwright and Bailey, "Focus on the language classroom: an introduction to classroom research for language teachers"




With the contributions of my fellows and the articles read I think that the language is not the factor that influence in the human beings but the conditions where the people live, the history of the region and the culture are which determine the language and the way of people think and their behaviour.