In my Study to answer the Question ‘To what extent is it true to say that the ‘limits of my language are the limits to my world’ i have decided to set up these parameters to clearly define what i believe to be limiting by this statement. What i mean when i say “limits “; It perpetuates the societal norms within that structure, everyone within that societal structure abides by the norms given and established by the common peoples , that is all that can be expressed or thought about therefore this narrows the chances of concepts outside the field of experience being developed and widened Part 1 Language Studies Emiko.
S. Kashima and Yoshihisa Kashima ( 1998 ) The Significance of pronouns, in a language with a lack or a non existence of personal pronouns it may theoretically indicate to a societal structure that has an absence of the idea of being an individual in the sense of singular ownership, existing in a culture where there is a clear lack of possessive pronouns may lead to an individual never having a concept of personnel material wealth, or never having the thought of ‘themselves’ ; the culture may be one founded on the base morals of ‘sharing’ as this does not include personal ownership. For these people to then migrate it is also presumed that there will be integration from the old ways to the adoption of new cultures and languages, for these people to then go out and learn new language forms and new fundamental ways to communicate completely new concepts; such as the usage of personal pronouns, it wouldn’t just be learning and using new words for them, it would have meaning behind it thus it’s not just the language they’re assuming it’s the whole form of behaviour that comes with it, behaviour in the terms of , new ways of acting, expressing oneself, learning, the day to day life of the peoples would be changed and shifted into new realms of understanding and thought.1.
a) Limits of Identity Kashimi and Kashimi (1998) first acknowledged a potential relationship between culture and language, in their study where they cross referenced 39 spoken languages across 71 cultures, Correlations and links were made between certain ideals and beliefs such as the general ideology of individualism against the usage of first and second – person singular pronouns ; it was noted that cultures without the usage of pronouns, tended to be less individualistic in the sense of being ‘less about themselves as a single identity’, it further displayed that the number of personal pronouns correlated with some cultural aspects that reflected the different ideals of the person.Furthermore John Adamopoulos and Yoshihisa Kashima ( 1999 ) a study was conducted between Japanese native speakers and those who spoke English – Australian. It is interesting to note that the English American anthropologist Ruth Benedict ( 1946 ) also classified Japan as a “shame” culture and, Western cultures as “guilt” based cultures.
She basically meant that shame is ruled by external moral standards while guilt is ruled by internal moral standards. In Japan it is felt that Shame is a collective emotion, bringing shame to a group of people whereas, In more western societies there is a guilt culture where its individual and felt by a singular person. .Here again we see reference to the idea of community or individualism. We see this idea John Lie ( 2001 ) as stated “The Japanese value mutual dependence and group membership, unlike the independence and individuality valued in the West” In the Kashimi study, It was noted that the Japanese spoke far fewer first person pronouns than the Australians, Furthermore, it was noted that the japanese spoke no second person pronouns compared to the australians who mentioned ‘you’ a few times. What we can take away from this study is that the Japanese practices and customs contextualize the self in the situation of the interpersonal relationships, i.e community based, whereas the Australian culture practice the idea of the self or the individual similar to the customs seen in the west, so as to to differentiate ‘the self’ opposed to the concept of community. What I gather from this, is that there is a correlation between behaviour and language which could lead to being conceptually hindered; as said in the study of language and cognition, Brown, Roger W.
,Lenneberg, Eric H 1945 there are two main hypothesis when it comes to language and thought ie. conceptual knowledge ; A ) Different linguistic communities perceive and conceive reality in different ways and (b) The language spoken in a community helps to shape the cognitive functions of the individuals speaking that languageOverall im using this language study to highlight that the ideologies of collectivism and individualism can affect how the language develops and conveys the ides of ownership, these ideals then go hand in hand with how knowledge is shared and how people can benefit from this sharing, with the sharing of knowledge innovation is able to be born and this is where we see conceptual knowledge and theory, meet reality to merge into a beneficial advancement or improvement in society.In regards to whether the limit of my world is the limit of my language; without the behaviours regarding the usage of certain prefixes we see whole ideas of ownership or singular identities being nulled effectively cutting off potential concepts regarding oneself.
The group collectivism is all that is allowed to be expressed by not having a system to refer to one’s own identity In colloquial Vietnamese for instance there is no word for ‘I’ or for the pronoun ‘you’ as stated by Language log ( 2017 ) vietnamese people who abide by the social norm address each other according to their ages for example ‘anh’ for older brother, or ‘chi’ for older sister, ’em’ for younger sibling, it has become a normal behaviour in vietnamese culture to ask strangers and those around them for their age quickly so that they can use the appropriate pronounThis whole language structure and methodical approach to giving one a generic label and appropriate level of respect stems from a group identity whereas to identify people’s roles as part of the group dynamic almost as part of a family, where in this ideal the groups survival as a whole, or the development and treatment of the group is held at the utmost priority, the groups hierarchy regarding age further suggest that the collective is more important that the singular entity . The familiar language of no ‘you’ s or ‘he’s’ suggests a broad sense of community philosophy . Conceptually however this is limiting as due to the grouped dynamic it would seem hard to break away from this mould as gain personal success without first initializing the understanding of oneself, or one’s own self improvement. 1.b) Limits of your Environment The washington post ( 2013 ) stated in an article that there are more words for snow in the Inuit and Yupik languages, than in english.
The Yupik people live in Siberia, Saint Lawrence Island and the Diomede Islands in the Bering Sea and Bering Strait, and Alaska ( windows2universe 2018 ). Inuit communities are found in the Arctic, in the Northwest Territories, Labrador and Quebec in Canada, above tree line in Alaska; (britannica 2018) both the yupik and Inuit are culturally related suggesting that there are similarities between their behaviours and their dialects. Both languages are efficient and more than competent when trying to define different snowfall patterns, snow type and ice as well as describe the environment they inhabit and their surroundings Franz Boas ( 1911 ) & Igor Krupnik ( 2012 ). However there are limitations when trying to describe something other than snow if not having experienced an environment that is non-snow like or completely different, such as a tropical rainforest , an environment completely polar opposite to their norm; therefore hindering their understanding of a greater world outside of Alaska.
It would be difficult to explain concepts outside of their environment as the people’s wouldn’t have the words for them. If we extrapolate this to other communities we can explore the theory that if you’re language is limited it is going to be difficult to delve into concepts or believe that there is a greater level of knowledge or thought outside of the environment you’ve been born in, and lived in. With globalisation and information being passed across cultures and nations the question can be asked that ‘Will cultures that don’t have words to embrace new technologies be able to adapt to change?” and “will the individuals in those communities be able to contribute to that change?’, “will they get an equal chance to be able to contribute to that change?’ Following on from the last point concerning surplus amounts of words for a singular idea The Sami people of northern Scandinavia have been observed to have over 1,000 different terms for reindeer, this idea is again stated Dr Ole Henrik Magga (n/a) that “The need for terminology for reindeer comes from the fact that in good reindeer herding practices there is a need to identify and describe animals for various purposes” This entire ideal shows us that the need for a larger range of language coincides directly to the practical need of being able to develop an understanding of purpose, as in having a concept or an idea leads to an action that is a direct consequence of the idea, the Sami people needed to have over 1000 different words to describe physical traits of reindeer, age, gender, suitability for slaughter for the single purpose of fitting into their environmental framework, their use of language directly effected how efficiently their concepts could grow and evolve into action and then effect.Finally, both examples of the inuit , Yupik dialects and the Sami people convey the sense that language is formed and is directly linked to your environment and atmosphere of course this is a common idea that makes direct sense and is straightforward however it also shows that there is a finite amount of ideas this language can take on if your environment remains stagnant and unchanging, if one is not able to expand the environment in which they inhabit can we assume that conceptually they are limited as they dont have the correct words or vocabulary in order to voice their ideas, or to develop growing ideas or even new ideologies.Furthermore also stated by Franz Boas ( 1911 ) he mentions the Magyar people who offer further insight into limitations surrounding a collective environment;When people move around, migrate and intermix they are completely changing their language and their culture in the fact that their speech, vocabulary and their morals shift. This is the norm for human movement and development. However not as commonly it can be shown that people have kept their language and their norms while undergoing material cultural changes. An example would be the Magyar’s who have retained their language but have changed their culture and language.
This rigid unchanging nature to keep language constant puts forward the notion that language is important for the maintenance of the community, by changing their external factors such as noticeable culture transformation , material changes and geographically moving it almost seems that the original Maygar people are non existent, but keeping the internal value the same such as the way they communicate with each other which is more intimate and personal, the key value is remaining unbroken therefore in a sense their identity in the terms of what they deem to be external or internal, limits their world in context of community as they are held within the bounds of association, yet they are able to change all external parts within the bounds of their language thus it could be reasonable to propose that the foundation of the language facilitated this external change and allowed the change to take place . Furthermore when describing migration and the movement of culture or a dialect around the world Boas ( 1911 ) describes the mixing of theses languages to become so fluid and intermixed that in the future it may become impossible to pinpoint exactly where a language has originated from, therefore elucidating the impression that concepts and words become so amalgamated that the sharing of ideas and vocabulary to further develop initial thoughts is common nature and the language is ready to facilitate the continuous development of knowledge. I wanted to include these 5 studies of language from all different places in the world to highlight that language as a format of communication is limiting, no language offers complete freedom or the means to speak freely without risk of association with a certain behaviour, or cultural insight, when it comes to the idea that the limits of my language are the limit of my world we see these restrictions a how is one able to express themselves openly if the language itself does not reflect that ideal, how can one think of new innovative ideas to better this world if the foundations to build upon these ideas in their native language are non existent or non translatable .
If the language can’t construct a system in order for knowledge outside its bounds to be passed on readily then potential new perceptions can’t be shared or developed.