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 Language culture separable? Connection to critical theory?

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Seleucus

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PostSubject: Language culture separable? Connection to critical theory? Thu May 04, 2017 12:30 am

I would like to get some input on the subject of the separability of language and culture. On why a supposed unseparableness might be essential to critical theory (political correctness), and the implications for national language policy and nation building.

The structuralists, Lévi-Strauss or Saussure for instance, took the view that language could be analyzed independently of the cultural milieu it resided in, or at least this position was attributed to them. Sapir and Whorf, or Wittgenstein, however linked culture and language. The post-modern or critical theory position, which includes post-structuralism, assumes this enmeshed view of "languaculture".

This has bearing for national language policies and nation building where, for example in the UK, it is believed that teaching immigrants the national language will facilitate integration and adoption of national values. It also has bearing on national educational policies, governments may be reluctant to include languages such as English, Mandarin, Arabic or local languages in national curriculum out of fear they threaten nation building projects and local culture.

Some considerations however seem to contradict the hypothesis that language and culture are inseparable...

In the case Arabic, it seems to have been a carrier of Arab culture in the form of Islam. Meanwhile however, while Greek and and Persian medicine and mathematics advanced during the Islamic golden age, politics and other cultural items like philosophy and literature were repressed. Greek and Persian cultural artifacts we separable from their language. This is somewhat opposite of the situation today where in many places medicine and engineering are taught in English, while in school classrooms the language has been carefully separated from its culture so as not to impose Western hegemony on the local cultures.

Furthermore, following Nietzsche for example, who called civilization a process of violence, it would follow that watching Hollywood movies and studying textbooks in school does not involve an immediate immersion in American culture, in the sense of paying taxes, being bullied, holding employment, and the sort of more visceral and emotional experiences that create cultural transmission.

Inglehart and Welzel seem to be showing that cultures tend to have enormous inertia, and that their components are multiply reinforces and therefore very resistant to change. Timur Kuran says the same in his work on cultural change, or rather resistance to it.

It seems therefore that countries like the UK or Australia who insist that immigrants learn English as a way of encouraging integration may be misguided. And local countries the educational policies of which avoid teaching foreign languages out of fear of undermining their local cultures and national identities may be worrying for nothing?

A question continues to be outstanding, at least to me, which is why are language and culture held to be inseparable for critical theory? Since critical theory is the dominant narrative against which nation building and educational policies are being designed today, it is an important theoretical point that needs to be addressed, particularly as most lessons from history tend not to be scientific or conclusive but more anecdotal.
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PostSubject: Re: Language culture separable? Connection to critical theory? Sun May 07, 2017 7:47 pm

The inseparability of language and culture is not the contention of critical theorists/Political Correctness alone. There are organic and inorganic relations, and rootedness of language in culture that in turn cultivates and breeds and acculturates is an organic cycle and an organic relation between the two.

Furthermore, culture itself, can be natural, or un-natural, even anti-natural - as in the case of semitic religions that were birthed by the "Word" of God/Abs. that corresponds to no phenomenal reality. PC integration of language into secular humanism/humanist culture is a continuation of that anti-naturalness. That is, its not technically culture, but a Civilizing, a Taming, assimilation/domestication, of life reduced to only pleasant limits.  

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Seleucus

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PostSubject: Re: Language culture separable? Connection to critical theory? Mon May 08, 2017 2:00 am

Thanks for the comments and links, greatly appreciated. Let me read over everything before replying...
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