24 Mar 2017
Culture is a conglomeration of various factors and social frequencies that reflects a corporate community of individuals. Language reflects something generally considered exclusive to the human race – having produced elaborate political and civil structures, and economic interactions. Language has been called to basic fundamental unit of a culture. From it, individual cultures’ characteristics can be ascertained – as can be seen with the Hieroglyphics extracted from the Rosetta stone. Language represents more then just the literal words however – it also may contain contextual detail intended for the recipient.
An ancient Example
Take Koine Greek, for example. While language obviously includes more then just the written form, the ancient Greeks exhibited then unprecedented detail to supplement their written knowledge with what has been identified as “parson code”. This language is an exquisite example of culture on display in written form. Without considering lingual phonology (we can’t hear the ancients actually talk today), we can articulate the grammar, morphology, and vocabulary they used. While much can be said of the gender, case, and syntax; the vocabulary alone provided greater depth of meaning then in our modern era. The Greeks had two common words for our one designation for “word”: “Logos” and “Rhema”. Another would be “love”, of which at least four are commonly known. Vocabulary carried often carried with it an emotional dimension not often found in our communication today.
It is often assumed that logical deductions, numerical analysis, and mental computation of information against mentally stored facts is the sole indicator of intelligence. This is simply not true. Harvard Gardner, in a 1991 paper, produced insight into seven different intelligences that people may possess. These include: Visual-spatial, Bodily-kinesthetic, Musical, Interpersonal, Intrapersonal, Linguistic, and Logical-mathematical (nine are now known). Being beings harnessing remarkably complex bodies, we have the capacity to develop a wondrous range of skills, abilities, and proficiencies. Language is, in fact, one of the skills that may be developed, but people obviously may develop other areas. The fact remains: language is the key to learning and developing. Language permits sharing and expression.
The late Mayan culture made headlines years back for their calendar system, which was far different from our presently-used Gregorian calendar, following the Earth’s orbit of our sun. The calendar made measurements of days, apparently accumulating to a climax, rather then allowing for future years not directly indicated in the system.
Religion and Mythology
One thing that has always fascinated me about cultures is the stories they tell. They reach back to the dawn of civilization. Not only are Deity pantheons worthy of noticing, but the preserved literature that surrounds them. I remember first hearing of “The Epic of Gilgamesh” in a Western Civilization class, and being ripe with curiosity at the passion of cultures to preserve their legends and civil developments. Obviously, The Judeo-Christian Bible (probably the most qualitative and quantitative, manuscript-wise) is another example, uniquely interesting, since the ancient language of Hebrew has been resurrected among Jews. The stories preserved in these texts are the stories from the perspectives of people from within the culture. Homer’s attempts and illustrating Greek history shrouded in more conspiracy and poetic art then anything else. Yet even Homer brought a highlight of ancient Greek culture to later define the later cultures that absorbed it. The Roman pantheon did little to change the Greek pantheon outside of the deities’ names.
Language has influential power. It isn’t just written or spoken – it is a means of expression. Body language is a surprising underecognised means of communication utilized in our present culture. The technological advance of social media apps have produced a society that has the highest levels of government intently watching the digitalized quips and trivials feuds of coach potatoes. It must also be acknowledged that historically, religion and mythology held a huge sway over the culture. While technology may have quelled the abject fear of distant deities, technology has also begun to move towards taking the place of mythological and philosophical ideas. Artificial Intelligence is an entity written in code. In the end, language is a medium of communication and expression. A data holder, not a soul bearer.