Definitions of Language

Some Definitions of Language
& Culture
NAJD 493
Definitions of Language
 1) Language as Code
 Traditionally, language is viewed as a code. In this
view, language is made up of words and a series of
rules that connect words together. If language is only
viewed in this way, language learning just involves
learning vocabulary and the rules for constructing
sentences. This understanding of language is,
however, a very narrow one. It sees language as fixed
and finite and does not explore the complexities
involved in using language for communication.
Definitions of Language
 2) Language as Social Practice
 An understanding of language as ‘open, dynamic,
energetic, constantly evolving and personal’(Shohamy,
2007:5) encompasses the rich complexities of
communication….Language is something that people do
in their daily lives and something they use to express,
create and interpret meanings and to establish and
maintain social and interpersonal relationships.
Definitions of Language
Language is a purely human
and non-instinctive method of
communicating ideas, emotions
and desires by means of
voluntarily produced symbols."
(Edward Sapir, , Language: An Introduction to the Study
of Speech. Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1921)
Definitions of Language
 We can define language as a system of
communication using sounds or symbols that
enables us to express our feelings, thoughts,
ideas, and experiences.
(E. Bruce Goldstein, Cognitive Psychology: Connecting
Mind, Research, and Everyday Experience, 2nd ed.
Thomson, 2008)
Definitions of Culture
 "Most social scientists today view culture as consisting
primarily of the symbolic, ideational, and
intangible aspects of human societies. The essence of
a culture is not its artifacts, tools, or other tangible cultural
elements but how the members of the group interpret, use,
and perceive them. It is the values, symbols,
interpretations, and perspectives that distinguish
one people from another in modernized societies;
it is not material objects and other tangible aspects
of human societies. People within a culture usually
interpret the meaning of symbols, artifacts, and behaviors
in the same or in similar ways." (Banks, J.A., Banks, & McGee, C. A.
(1989). Multicultural education. Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon. )
Definitions of Culture
 "Culture is the collective
programming of the mind which
distinguishes the members of one
category of people from another." (p. 51).
(Hofstede, G. (1984). National cultures and corporate cultures. In L.A.
Samovar & R.E. Porter (Eds.), Communication Between Cultures.
Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.)
Definitions of Culture
 "Culture has been defined in a number
of ways, but most simply, as the learned
and shared behavior of a community of
interacting human beings.” (p. 169). (Useem,
J., & Useem, R. (1963). Human Organizations, 22(3).)