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Effects of Language on a Specific Region

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  • Crystal Mullen

 

ASSIGNMENT: Select a specific region that interests you, such as South America, Central America, Asia, etc., and research, as well as evaluate, the power of language in creating the idea of a region.

  • Is language a self-sufficient and complete geographical model?
  • Write a 1-2 page paper explaining your findings.
  • Please be sure to substantiate your opinions with examples, as well as cite your resources using APA format. in length.

Professor Sandve’s Explanation: 1) Define a region. What is a region?

2) Evaluate the power of language. Can you define a region's society, traditions, norms, climate, topography, etc. by evaluating the language?

3) Is language a self-sufficient and complete geographical model? What is a geographical model? If language is the only characteristic you're evaluating, can you fully define the region?

I believe a region means something different to different people or industries. Before taking this class, I thought a region was that part of the basement or that portion of an attic that scary movies warned us to avoid. The Merriam-Webster dictionary had a different view:

“Region: a part of a country, of the world, etc., that is different or separate from other parts in some way (Merriam-Webster.com, 2014)”

This definition appears to speak more to the topic of geography because we are now discussing spatial locations that offer distinct characteristics that are found in that found in that location. However, I need to know what a region is from a geographer’s point of view.

Region: in geography, an area of the earth that displays distinctive grouping of physical or cultural phenomena or is functionally united as a single organizational unit (Getis, Bjelland, & Getis, 2014).”

This definition best describes geography in the for this assignment because it encourages me to pick an area of the world that I find interesting because of how various physical or cultural features are joined into one spatial location. One region that I that does interest me is Africa.

Africa is the second largest continent in the world; as well as the world’s second most-populous continent. Within its borders one will find 54 countries that are share the home for the continent’s many mountains, rivers, valleys and deserts. First of all, the Atlas Mountains run from the southwestern portion of Morocco along the coastline of the Mediterranean, all the way to Tunisia’s eastern edge. Also, the Great Rift Valley is the continent’s ground form of depression. Here is found a series of geological faults at are approximately 4,000 miles in length. The extent of the Great Rift Valley extends from the Red Sea region near Jordan, to the country of Mozambique. Furthermore, Africa is home to the Congo River Basin which dominates the landscape of central Africa’s Democratic Republic of the Congo. Finally though certainly not I would be remiss to speak of Africa without speaking of the Sahara Desert. The Sahara Desert cover close those a third of Africa’s surface. It is the world’s largest desert in the world at approximately 3,500,000 square miles in total size (World Atlas, 2014). Based on this the geographical information, I would be surprised to learn if there is a cohesion of language within the continent to unify the continent of Africa.

The range of traditions and customs in Africa are as diverse as Africa’s geography. For example, when it comes to meal time, the men eat before the women. Children remain silent while adult meal conversation is in progress. Also, hospitality is very important to the country of Africa. When they welcome their guests, they wash their hands, clap, and offer their best meats as a symbol of graciousness. Furthermore, when it comes to courtship, it appears that it is the girl who initiates the process. She will send a multi-colored beaded bracelet to the boy of her choice. Each bead represents a secret meaning and once the courtship process is over the secret behind the beads are revealed. Finally, though certainly exhaustively, it is customary during an African wedding that the bride wears a wedding dress that reflects her culture’s traditions and heritage. Also, the bride and groom are often tied at the wrists with either cloth or braided grass as a symbol of their newly created union (Drake, 2014). When I read these customs, I feel as if it is possible for language to be a complete self-sufficient model of its people because their customs appear to transcend their multi-faceted geography,

The aspect about Africa is their massive diversity of languages and dialects. While no one appears to know for absolute certainty, the best estimate of the number of languages and dialects spoken in Africa are around 2,000. One group of African languages are known as the Afro-Asiatic language group of languages. The 400 languages under this umbrella is generally heard spoken in North, East, and Southwest Africa. Some examples of these languages include Aramaic, Amharic, Arabic, Hausa, Hebrew, and Tigrinya. Another family of languages heard spoken in Africa is the Khoisan, or language. This happens a language that may be dying out, it is currently spoken in Angola, Botswana, and Namibia. This is the family of fifty different languages that use mainly clicking or tonal sounds to communicate. Finally though certainly not exhaustively the language family that holds the greatest number of languages is the Niger-Congo language family. Under this umbrella of languages one will find almost 400 languages that are spoken by over 500 million people. Common languages that fall within this family include Igbo, Swahili, Yoruba, and Zulu (wiseGEEK, 2014). I find it fascinating that there are countless languages for a person in Africa to express the frustration of the desert sand, being insulted by a dinner guest or vowing his or her life to a new spouse.

I find myself conflicted when I consider if language is a complete, self-sufficient geographical model of the region of Africa. On the one hand, because there are over 2,000 languages, spoken in Africa, I would say that each language and dialect is a perfect representation of the country, or portion of that country within Africa. If language were my only representation I was evaluating, I could easily define that particular region. On the other hand, because there are over 2,000 languages, spoken in Africa, I would say that each language and dialect creates the perfect storm for confusion for Africa as a whole. I don’t see how I could identify Africa as a continent because the continent cannot unite behind one or two languages. In this scenario, if language were my only representation I was evaluating, I would greatly struggle to define the continent because millions of African citizens would not be representing in my definition. Therefore, I find that the African languages both reflect and confuses the geographic model found in the continent of Africa.

References

Drake, F. (2014). African Customs. Retrieved January 26, 2014, from eHow.com: http://www.ehow.com/info_8582146_african-customs.html

Getis, A., Bjelland, M., & Getis, V. (2014, January 7). Glossary. In A. Getis, M. Bjelland, & V. Getis, Introduction to Geography (pp. G-9). New York: McGraw Hill. Retrieved from Balanced Politics: http://www.balancedpolitics.org/affirmative_action.htm

Merriam-Webster.com. (2014). Definiton of Region. Retrieved January 26, 2014, from Merriam-Webster.com: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/region

wiseGEEK. (2014). How Many Languages are Spoken in Africa? Retrieved January 26, 2014, from wiseGEEK: http://www.wisegeek.org/how-many-languages-are-spoken-in-africa.htm

World Atlas. (2014). Africa Map. Retrieved January 26, 2014, from World Atlas: http://www.worldatlas.com/webimage/countrys/af.htm

World Atlas. (2014). Geography - Africa. Retrieved January 26, 2014, from World Atlas: http://www.worldatlas.com/webimage/countrys/afland.htm


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