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Language and Culture

Discussion in 'The Philosopher' started by speed, Apr 12, 2008.

  1. speed

    speed Member

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    Does language reflect the values of the culture and time it was written in? Therefore, does the current state of language, literature, journalism, etc, reflect the morality and values of our culture? Or, is language seperate from the values of culture? Do words have eternal, or long-standing historical meaning?

    This article by B. R. Myers, posits that literature and journalism is in an irreversible decline as it mirrors our valueless postmodern culture:
    http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200804/myers-robinson
     
  2. Vimana

    Vimana Member

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    In some ways I guess, Spanish, French and Italian, they are very light and soft languages, and I think they reflect the extroverted and low stress cultures.
     
  3. The Poona of Peshwa

    The Poona of Peshwa Blood Glutton

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    That's a lovely article. I think a good indicator of the decline of language and its importance could be seen reading Lincoln and Dubya side-by-side. Pandering to the lowest common denominator has become the American way.

    I really like Myers prediction that 'depraved' could lose its moral hang-ups as an adjective. I think that a good example of the way that we use words reflecting culture is found in swear-words. A hundred and fifty years ago 'goddamn', and 'go to hell' were seriously obscene language. People aren't exactly scared of hell anymore so swears are focused on sex and scatology, i.e. 'fuck', 'shit', 'cunt'. As Myers points out, even these words are losing their punch, being trotted out by the dozen in romantic comedies. It'll be interesting to see what the swears of the future will be, if anything remains sacred.
     
  4. speed

    speed Member

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    Yes, it would be frightening to compare Lincoln to W. And true, what is shocking these days? Profanity has lost its meaning. I think visual profanity via youtube, the news, etc is the only truly shocking thing left. Isnt that sad?
     
  5. Flal

    Flal Flal

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    I don't know if I agree. Are we really that much different than at the time when these authors consider english to have been "perfect"? (to suggest a decline is also to suggest a golden era). I think that today, as much as any other time, intelligent voices and literature are easy to find and properly accessible. They just don't reflect the majority of the population's wants and desire, hence, aren't heard as much as the "jackasses" or the romantic comedies that we see, hear, and read today. Think about it, I'm sure in Shakespeare's day the majority of people weren't reading going to see his plays or speaking eloquently. That was reserved for the educated. And since the educated were the only one's able to afford to be heard, their legacy is what remains today.

    I don't think that today's media represents a decline as much as an ability for the majority of the population to express what they like to hear on a grand scale. (This doesn't mean that I'm happy with it, it's simply what I believe to be true). I'm sure there were just as many bad english speakers (if not more) 100 years ago than there are today.

    And I think calling a Post-Modern world valueless is a bit of a contradiction. Post-Modern is a "collage" of old and new, which I think has plenty of value. I would agree that today's mass media is valueless, but definitely not post-modern.
     
  6. Flal

    Flal Flal

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    lol, and sorry if the above post seems critical (which it is, but I'm just presenting an idea). Do you guys agree?
     
  7. Flal

    Flal Flal

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    Oh, and for an interesting book and language and culture, Alberto Mangel's Massey Lecture ("The City of Words") is fantastic!
     
  8. razoredge

    razoredge Member

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    yes, language is a direct reflection of culture with a mirror glass finish... however culture is huge
    language and media are in steady decline
    literature and spoken word has lost much of its rhythmic grace and passionate indulgence, replaced by indulgence in abstracts and quests to use uncommon words in a false sense of profoundness

    is the last question do words have lastng value individually or in how they are phrased ? a single word has little value, graceful phrasing is priceless and will stand the test of time.

    I perfer the dialog of days gone by, such grace, even in the slang of commoners
     
  9. forbidden fruit

    forbidden fruit ...is always best

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    Definitely.
    Language is one of the biggest losers in the internet, mobile phone, disposable everything age...
    The 'smileys' available, & more to the point, heavily used, in forums & social networking sites, is testament to this.
    Some of it is already so ingrained in common vernacular that it's made it's way into dictionaries, & worse yet, verbal communication.

    I had someone say "OMG" to me yesterday at work, I shit you not...

    To express ideas, you first need to be able to verbalise it in your head, what the fuck's going to happen to the people who grow up in this day and age when someone asks them to describe a waterfall?
    "errr ahhh... BRB", or at best; "Sweet"?... it's a fucking waterfall dammit!, it's 'majestic'!!!!!!!!!!!

    What's going to happen when someone asks them; "What can you bring to this position?"
     
  10. razoredge

    razoredge Member

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    I really enjoy "period movies" not that I know for a fact that they are really using the dialog from those times. But it is still more poetically elegant
     
  11. speed

    speed Member

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    And I sometimes think the same as well. I think much of it has to do with the egalitarianization of society. Alot if open to everyone, not just a select few. I suppose this is good in some ways. I also think language in its written and oral forms is being dramatically changed by technology. It has lost its importance in many ways, and is in essence, being replaced as society changes.

    However, Shakespeare did play at the Globe, and the vast majority of his audience was poor. Moliere played country shows with his plays before he found a royal audience. Shaw was a huge hit at the general box office. If you look just fifty years ago, famous authors were on the cover of major magazines, and became celebrities themselves: Hemingway, Faulkner, Mailer, Capote, Vidal, Nabokov, amongst others sold alot of copies of their books, were in magazines, etc. I dont know of any author or playwright who is even talked about much besides J.K. Rowling and John Grisham; of the so-called serious American authors, Roth, Updike, and McCarthy get some attention, but not too much.

    Postmodern is nonsense. Necessary nonsense I suppose, but nonsense nonetheless.
     
  12. MURAI

    MURAI -

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    This is a good article on language:
    http://www.george-orwell.org/Politics_and_the_English_Language/0.html

    What Orwell wants to say is that language should be treated properly because its a tool that shapes and expresses thought. So, one should keep it concise and simple and keep it as a sharp tool. What is disturbing is that many young people can't even string togather words coherently because their attention spans have gotten so short.

    Interesting to note, I think language not only tells something about that society but you can even predict a person's personality by how that person uses language.
     
  13. Satan is My Stewardess

    Satan is My Stewardess New Metal Member

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    Isn't that a pretty much an axiomatic principle at this point?
     
  14. MURAI

    MURAI -

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    The annoying thing is that some people use the word "post-modern" to look hip and educated. I am not saying you are like that but just saying that people just use the word to look sophisticated.

    It is not clear what even that word even means or when that era started to part with that modernism era but I will guess its nature. The Post-Modern era started around the 50's, after World War II, when the T.V set was available in many homes which made mass media more pervasive. Values became increasingly more relative, mass media more prevalant, and the nation state breaks down. Values become more relative I say generally when there's lack of consensus on how one should live. Meaning there's is the weakening of any real religions and culture defining people's values along with the dissolution of community interaction. Again, mass media becomes prevalant with the television and internet and the danger is the fact that since it is so common that people become more uncritical and passive to it. The nation state dissolves in this post modern age because with the internet one can easily interact without physical limitations and things (information, labor, goods etc) can move around easily for work/ entertainment. Finally, the post modern age is marked by the blurring of any real and copy. Again, with the prevalance of mass media and anything being able to be reproduced and copied then it means it gets more difficult of telling what the original is. For example, images can easily be reproduced by anyone by using the photocopier or photoshop. Images can easily be crafted without referring to anything real. For example, one can take a photograph of something and put it on the net. One can easily manipulate that image and more one tampers with it then more it gets away from the original. But many images are presented as very photorealistic and real but one can not see the process on how it was created. Possibly it can be from a photo from a scene from reality or it could of been crafted completely digitally from photoshop. One can never really know.

    The post modern age, I argue, is valueless because its values very relative and there's the weakening of true culture in Westernized countries, especially the Canada and the US. One can not have real culture when society has no direction or unifying values which ANUS argues it is because of democratization and multi-culturalism. They argue, there is such a thing as "race" and it shapes culture, which I agree. Culture is a product from a long period of history of that certain reace and ANUS points out multi-cultural societies have no true culture because they built societies recently. I say the problem is that the masses become more passive with the prevalance of generic multi national corporations and mass media. Who needs to make true culture when one can just watch TV and buy mall products. Generic, mass-produced products are preferred over true cultural products because they are cheaper, common and have more potential to generate money. I brought up mass media domination characterizes this age because it is very common and people rely on it for everything from work to entertainment to daily necessities. People spend their times living in digital-representational worlds on the internet and television than living.
     
  15. speed

    speed Member

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    I fully agree.
     

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