Language and Culture Influence on the Way of Thinking
The contemporary world includes an array of languages and cultures, which help people to learn each other by means of communication. Intercultural communication allowed seeing the differences between cultures and understanding that customs and traditions formulate a specific behaviour of each individual. However, the issue is whether culture and language affect the way of thinking of each individual. Doubts regarding the role of language in formulating an individual’s worldview still exist. This question worries millions of scientists and sociologists willing to understand the impact of language on the thinking process. The current paper is a reflection on investigation covering the idea that language and culture have a significant influence on the formulation of the specific thinking processes. The following discussion focuses on the evaluation of each aspect, which plays a vital role in shaping the overall understanding of the world and its perception.
General Principles of Speaking Different Languages
Language shapes specific characteristics of the surrounding world’s perception. Linguists mention that there are significant changes in switching from one language to another. It is possible to consider general observations, which everyone can make regardless of competence. First, different languages tend to have a direct influence on the formulation of visual perception of colours and affect the perception of scents. Changing is equal to changing the way of thinking. However, it happens unintentionally in a natural way, which allows the reformation of emotions, feelings, and perception of the surrounding world. Moreover, it is impossible to take away the ability to speak. It will have a significant influence on the performance and productivity of the individual. Language helps not only to speak but also to count and think about solutions to the problems. In addition, it helps in the formulation of the individual’s reality and human nature. Language also contributes to the development of knowledge. It is obvious that without language it would be completely impossible to exist. It is an ignition of all thinking processes, which help to formulate a set of knowledge and manage the information.
Culture also has a significant impact on human development. For example, it is possible to compare Western and East Asian cultures, which have essential differences in shaping the behaviour of each individual. While the USA focuses on rules and standards, China prefers aiming at personal experience and experiments. Various studies prove that both cultures have different approaches towards perception of the surrounding world. While Americans pay attention to big objects, Chinese seek to focus on the background and examination of small details. It is obvious that every culture has its peculiarities, which have an essential meaning in formulating the world of the individual belonging to a specific culture.
One might wonder at the reason for the difficulty of learning new languages. It is easy to explain since each language and culture use different approaches towards perception of the world. It is not enough to learn the vocabulary for understanding the language. People pay attention to different objects in the surrounding world. Each culture has its values which have a reflection on the language. In general, culture and language are indistinguishable elements, which cannot exist separately (Beal 1992). It is the primary connection which sets peculiarities in language. Learning new languages means not only learning words and phrases but also seeing the world in the same light. It is possible through the lenses of understanding the culture and feeling its spirit. However, the new language does not change the way of thinking in general. It provides an insight in the culture, enriches the mind with new words, and teaches to look at the same things differently. From this perspective, it is possible to claim that language is the door connecting different cultures, which mingle and transform due to the active exchange of vocabulary.
Language role in shaping thinking processes is an ancient debate, which worried many linguists and social critics. Nowadays, it is possible to clarify the differences between languages and their characteristic features without much effort. In general, the research proves that there are significant differences between imagination, perception and even orientation in the surrounding world (Liddicoat 2011). Surprisingly, every culture has its worldview, which depends on its evolutional process.
Concerning business development, language became a part of every culture determining the working style. For example, the USA focuses on individualism, explanations, and analytical way of thinking whereas China prefers an interpersonal approach and analysis of another person’s perception (Oyserman & Lee 2008). However, it does not mean that Western cultures are irresponsible. Conversely, the representatives of the western world seek to create comfort for every individual by listening to each idea and concept (Hickey & Stewart 2005). In the eastern part of the world, collectivism is the only appropriate method of business development. It helps to work in groups and generate ideas through continuous discussion. Moreover, the group members think about welfare of the whole group rather than of personal benefits. Eastern cultures prefer formal way of leading business full of mutual respect and understanding. It does not mean that some cultures are more successful than other due to specific approach towards leading business. Contrarily, the worldview of each culture varies depending on the cultural values.
Specific Ways of Language and Culture Influence on the Perception of the World
The world’s history counts dozens of cultures, which represent a cultural diversity and penetrate its individuals with different characteristic features. Languages are parts of the world’s cultures, which help communicate on the international basis. However, it is obvious that each language grants an individual with a unique ability to think, which relates to the cultural aspects. For example, American teenagers have personal language of abbreviations, which help to communicate through instant messaging (Tagliamonte & Denis 2008). As culture and language interrelate, it is possible to have an in-depth research of the dependence between thinking processes and the culture.
The language shapes the worldview of the individual by specific composition of the vocabulary. Languages tend to formulate words based on the experience of past generations contributing to its enrichment. In addition, there is a phenomenon of words diffusion when cultures start applying words from other languages as well as of the ones holding different meanings, which will not have the same representation in another language (Sharifian 2005). For example, German has a word, which describes loneliness in the wood in a single word, while English does not have any alternative to the same word. It is not a single example, which means that languages have specific composition describing cultural peculiarities. Many linguists have already proved that a direct connection between language and the way of thinking is based on the habitat (Philipsen 1975). It is understandable that language is a result of cultural development, which affects not only language itself but also perception, experience, feelings, associations, and orientation in the surrounding world. In particular, there are several ways of the cultural influence on the thinking process of every individual.
First, it is necessary to clarify the differences of envisioning the future among cultures. For example, in China, there are no distinguishing features between past, present, or future events. However, it does not mean that Chinese do not think about the future. The idea is that they focus on the present as they believe that the current activity is the most reliable determinant of the future. It helps to take mindful and reliable decisions, which save both time and money minimizing risks and threats. However, English and other languages have several forms of the future tenses, which help to state a certain moment. Some linguists claim that English speakers are less responsible in the decision making-process at the moment of speaking since it does not reflect all possible results of the future. In addition, Chinese have no distinction of the past, which means that orientation is only on present determining future.
Secondly, there are significant differences in orientation throughout languages. The majority of aboriginal languages do not use directions such as left or right (Liddicoat 2009). Instead, the language uses the cardinal directions of geographical location of the object. For example, some languages use northwest or southeast orientation of objects in order to inform about their placement. Such an orientation is due to the natural geolocation based on the natural environment. Moreover, representatives of such cultures remember changes of their orientation while moving. In other languages such as English, it is ridiculous to name the placement of the object by mentioning a geographical location (Tohidian 2008). However, there are still cultures, which believe that their way of orientation is a primary way of finding themselves in the world.
Thirdly, there is a significant difference in placing blame. For example, English does not consider intentional or unintentional break of the glass. If someone broke the glass, she/he would not mention whether it was intentionally or not. There will be a pure statement of the fact that the glass is broken. However, Spanish or Chinese languages consider a word combination that the glass broke itself, which describes unintentional its break. Such peculiarities in languages help speakers to recall who accidentally broke something. While some languages do not put a special emphasis on blame, others focus on putting it in mind for a long time (Boroditsky 2011).
Fourthly, there should be a special place of gender in shaping language peculiarities. In English, there is no need to mention the gender of a friend or neighbour. However, Spanish, German, and French have a rule of including gender identification. Moreover, inanimate objects also have a special identification of masculine or feminine. If a word is feminine in Spanish, it does not mean that it will have the same gender identification in German. English, in its turn, does not have any gender identification of objects. Numerous experiments show that language speakers have different vision of objects due to the gender identification. For example, Spanish speakers tend to describe a table as strong while German speakers describe it using the term of elegance since it has a feminine identification. It is one of the primary characteristic features of the thinking process, which outlines peculiarities of language and culture at the same time.
Finally, there are significant differences in the perception of colours by representatives of different cultures. For example, Russian includes words describing the diversity of shades such as light pink or dark pink. Russian speakers can better navigate through varying shades of colours, which help to specify each shade. Moreover, while Russian contains various identification of shades, other languages may not even have any word of the same colour. It means that paintings also have different effect on various cultures.
It is obvious that there are significant differences in the behaviour and thinking process of individuals belonging to different cultures. Language shapes the whole reality and perception of the world. Even bilingual speakers notice differences in emotional and thinking processes while switching to another language. The research argues that language is a mandatory part of the development of every human. Moreover, changing cultural environment can also have an impact on human development. Without language, it would be impossible even to count, which means that human performance and productivity will have a significant decrease. Cultures are a start of human development by shaping values, traditions, customs, and ability to envision the surrounding world. The research proves that language changes the perception of orientation, colours, and even scents. It is a natural identification of human peculiarities according to the cultural environment. It is possible to predict that in the future, language will increase its influence on human development by shaping new ways of the world’s perception since it transforms in terms of globalization. In general, cultures gain new characteristic features due to the interrelation character of languages, which exchange words and enrich each other’s meaning. Regarding globalization, it is easy to mix vocabularies of different languages and cultures. The future may have new cultures due to the active cooperation of languages. Nevertheless, it is possible to predict that language and culture will have the same impact on the perception of the world. Regardless of the cultural identity, language remains the main regulator of the thinking processes responsible for every decision and behavioural pattern.