Comment on universal communication

NOOKANYC Tue, Jun 16, 2009
i would say that culture plays more a role in shaping the way one thinks than language. your parents [surrounding community and its culture(s)] can teach you right from wrong, imbue you with an inquisitive attitude, and instill a set of ethics in any language. language is a tool for communication.

here's a fun example: there are no curse words in japanese. there are no words equivalent to "mother f#cker" or the way "bitch" or "ass" is used pejoratively in many other languages. does this mean japanese people think differently in the sense that they don't need pejorative language? the answer is no, the japanese can make each other feel just as bad as using curse words by using different grammar – the effect is the same. this give the false impression to many foreigners that the japanese are nicer in general, but in reality, they are simply more polite [again, a function of culture, not language. you can be as polite in any language [if you chose].

japanese culture dictates a different use of language, not a different thought pattern. the same cultural pressure of centuries of high population density may very well produce similar patterns in a different language group elsewhere.

another great example is how different cultural groups, all whom speak english, perform differently in school and careers within the USA. again, the studies point to the cultural expectations of the sub groups and not the language spoken by the individuals as contributing to higher success.