Language Structure And Society Essay

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Language, Culture, Society, Sociology, People, Linguistics, Community, Relationships

Pages: 7

Words: 1925

Published: 2020/12/18


The association between language and the society is firmly fixed. This relationship is deeply rooted and language has several roles to play within the society, and the society does the same. The inexistence of one will automatically affect the other. Language is one of the most influential emblems of social behaviour and a system of symbols that enables members of the society in communicating with one another (Milligan, Astington & Dack, 2007). Apart from being a means of communication, language plays a fundamental role in shaping our cultures and perspectives of our reality. Different communities have different and varied cultures that are shaped by the kind of language they speak. The interaction between the various communities with the others are also developed and controlled by their languages. This study tends to look deep and focus on the aspects of language and the role they play in shaping our cultures, the relationship between language and culture and how they influence relationships. In the standard information transfer through language, language is used in sending social messages considered critical about the people we interact with, where we originate and the people we are. What is most surprising and shocking is the extent to which people judge one's intentions, character, and background based on the kind of language one speaks, their dialect and to some extent the option of single words (Danesi, 2012). Language being the primary tool for the purposes of communication is also used in establishing peace and order in the society, for showing power and authority and for attaining and achieving goals and objectives. On the other hand, language can be very harmful, and a destruction of the society if not used appropriately. The language used within the community must follow the conformity governing the society in order to avoid conflicts and in meeting the boundaries in individual differences. Linguists like Sapir-Whorf came up with different hypothesis in showing relationships between language and culture (Astington & Jenkins, 1999). The hypothesis accounts for differences in languages across different cultures, and that language is the guide to social reality. The hypothesis also talks of the attraction between language and the real world, the whole society. Given the social function of language, the study, therefore, tends to be based on and concentrates on the role of language in the society. Now, most of the societal cultures within the world are widening their base of communication, group and personal relationships take an upward advantage. The most fundamental issue on the sociolinguists’ minds is that language deploys symbols to represent key cocial behaviour magnitudes behaviour and the interactions of human beings (Danesi, 2012).This notion may look so simple though the way language reflects habits and social lives within the society can be very complex. Moreover, a bigger experience from scarcely well-defined relations to widely based international relations affects the association between language and society. Aspects that influences language and culture includes cultural aspects, social aspects, cognitive and physical aspects.Cultural aspect Culture is the context of social interaction between human beings involving the use of language. Every culture has an original language, the mother tongue, or more additional languages that helps them in interacting with different members of the society. This standard means of communication brings about the common basis of identity for grouping that is after that referred to as a people or a culture. Previous experiences in society and culture affect expectations. Therefore, differences in the experiences relating to the history, ethnic and cultural distinctiveness lead to expectation differences for communication events. It, in turn, again involves and affects language use (Danesi, 2012). The culture of every community is always much related to the kind of language they speak though there are people who can speak similar language but still come from different cultural backgrounds. For example, Swahili, Spanish, and French are multi-cultural and multi-national languages that are spoken by people from various cultural backgrounds. For this reason, people may speak the same language and still come from various cultural backgrounds because of different sets of experience and resulting different types of expectations existing in the same language community. Knowing the language spoken in a particular society does not necessarily qualify one to be from the said society and to fit correctly. The person must learn the people and their particular cultures for them to communicate effectively and efficiently (Danesi, 2012). Cognitive captures a bigger part of cultural knowledge and for this reason one can easily join a target group or society by learning these languages either by watching movies for cultural insights or through reading of sources from the native tough though these do not cover the social aspect of culture. Finally, language and its aspects are the main aspects of social culture, and each social encounter is a communication event. Communication events comprise exchange of cultural information.Cognitive aspect Society nevertheless controls our language through giving preferences to us on the acceptable and unacceptable since everyone has their views and perspectives. One group of people may accept a particular language while the other may see it as an insult or offence. For this reason, we must know where, how and when to say the language and on what purpose. Changes in the social structure produce language changes, and the effects of these changes have not been well understood. Language incorporate social values through the social; changes are only similar to linguistic values only when the society is unchangingly one and very stable. Special effects of language are only evident when the organization starts changing (Danesi, 2012). Another dissimilar worry between language and society closely focuses on the impacts specific types of social circumstances on the structure of the language. For example, the study of language contacts focuses on the linguistic composition and the origin of creole and pidgin languages. The two varieties of languages come about when chatterers from jointly incomprehensible groups of language require a common communication language. There are several socio-historical situations in the world that have led to these specialised language situations like in places like South America, Africa, Caribbean, Pacific Islands, and Asia. In this examination of the language contact situation, one needs to look at the content of a specific language and also at the details on the linguistic and social aspects showing how multi-lingual chatterers utilizes each language and shift amid them (Danesi, 2012).
Physical aspect Language and society has got another approach that emphasizes on the situation and use of languages as an action within its own right. In the study of languages within the social aspect, we realise that there is need of organisation of our social relations in a specific societies. In using and addressing, someone by their first name or terms of Ms or Mrs is not just a simple vocabulary per say but it’s all about the social position and the connection between the person being addressed and the speaker. At the same time, using polite words like kindly pass the spoon, I think this food could use a slightly less salt or would you mind sharing the food is not a simple matter in the structure of sentence but involves cultural norms and values of defence, politeness, and status (Salzmann, Stanlaw & Adachi, 2014). When we focus on language in a social perspective, the discovery of specific patterns and social rules in guiding a conversation must be put on focus. For example, the guidelines storytelling, starting and ending a conversation. Examination on how different people from various communities are managing their language in accordance to the experiences of the communities they belong and their objectives of interactions, if very possible. Researchers and sociolinguists investigates questions like how language change occurs and spreads to communities, variation in the relations in power apparent themselves in form of language, how mixed-gender conversations is different from single-gender discussions, how children are let to know ways through language can be used by their caretakers. These questions relating to language as a social activity are answered by a method of ethnographic by the sociolinguists.
Language shift Language shift is another aspect that affects the societal norms. It is a situation where one community abandons one language and adopts the other. In most cases, the weaker language is the one shifted and the stronger one adopted. The more vulnerable community will be compelled to forget their language and all that the language, their culture will be forgotten, and a new society will be developed in the other favour. The process of language shift is generally preceded by multilingualism. The process of the change can happen rapidly or slowly, for example, the Caribbean Creole language was developed in a period of within a century, but others took less time to the European and African languages (Salzmann, Stanlaw & Adachi, 2014). In Africa, most of the languages were lost in a period less than two generations due to slavery. This made of the African cultures to be lost in the process as the language change caused changes in the culture. Language and culture establish an excellent relationship. Language is used commonly from time to time and place to place during conversations with people and groups. At the same time, language reflects the beliefs and practices of a society. Language, in this case, is the driving force that strengthens and maintains the societal, cultural ties governing the lives of the people of the community. At the same time, it is attached to culture and culture is shown in the language we use. Language is the key to culture, and, for this reason, new language means learning new culture and the more language we learn, the more cultures we acquire. The students should, therefore, not only learn language in class but also the culture governing the society, the best language learning should, therefore, go hand in hand with proper styles of teaching and motivational strategies suited to the learners demands. Teachers entering different cultures should be able to respect values of different cultures, and they should not only teach their students language functions but also the context of the cultures they are placed. They should be able to appreciate different cultures and be able to know that different cultures and people learn things differently (Ottenheimer, 2013). They should be able to understand the similarities and differences in cultures and be able to put them in practise during teaching. Language is also a powerful tool that influences how people see the world and at the same time, it affects the way we think and behave and this significantly affects the norms and values of the society. One way in which language affects society in this area is in sexist language. In this field, language makes us view men and women in different ways because they are treated differently. The terms like chairman or fireman show that only men can do the work, and therefore women are left out. The form of the word can, therefore, influence the way we view things and people. When a word like “farmer” is used one probably picture a man in mind and there is no reason why the farmer should not be a woman, at the same time the word “actress” one immediately picture a woman just because of the form of the word. The terms and words used have significant influence on the societal norms and values. Either of the sex within the society may fell threatened hence affecting the community. For this reason, one need to put into consideration the attitude people are having towards their language ant the attitudes of other persons. The language we speak makes a significant difference in the way we see ourselves and the way we are perceived by the society, and generally it will influence the way we relate to the society (Duranti, 2009).Conclusion In general, language structure has a great influence on our societies, on the way we relate to different members of the society, it’s a form of respect and power, and finally it has fundamental influence on our way of life and hope we relate for the well-being of the society and for better and greater growth. Language and culture relates in several ways and we cannot talk of one and leave the other, language plays critical role in shaping our cultures and their influence affects the way we relate with different people. At the same time, transfer of information through the language we speak helps in sending important information about the people we associate with, who we are and where we come from. The surprising bit is the way and extent to which people judge others backgrounds and intentions based on the language one speaks and their dialect. Language also as a means of communication can be used as a means of maintaining cohesiveness among different people of the society in maintaining peace and order.


Milligan, K., Astington, J. W., & Dack, L. A. (2007). Language and theory of mind: meta‐ analysis of the relation between language ability and false‐belief understanding. Child development, 78(2), 622-646.
Danesi, M., & Danesi, M. (2012). Linguistic anthropology: A brief introduction. Toronto: Canadian Scholars' Press.
Duranti, A. (2009). Linguistic anthropology: A reader. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.
Ahearn, L. M. (2012). Living language: An introduction to linguistic anthropology. Chichester, West Sussex, U.K: Wiley-Blackwell.
Ottenheimer, H. (2013). The anthropology of language: An introduction to linguistic anthropology. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.
Salzmann, Z., Stanlaw, J., & Adachi, N. (2014). Language, Culture, and Society: An Introduction to Linguistic Anthropology. New York: Westview Press.

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