What is Language?
• Mean of communication
• Use of signs, sounds and symbols
• Many animal and even plant species
communicate with each other
• Is that language too???????
The difference between animal communication
and human language is recursion ( the ability
to take discrete elements, like words or
numbers, and recombine them in a way that
creates an infinite variety of expression).
• Human system of communication makes an
extensive and varied use of arbitrary signals,
such as voice sounds, gestures, or written
• Human language is unique in being a symbolic
communication system that is learned instead
of biologically inherited.
What is culture?
• Appreciation of good literature, music, art,
and food.
• For a biologist, it is likely to be a colony of
bacteria or other microorganisms growing in a
nutrient medium in a laboratory Petri dish.
• For anthropologists and other behavioral
scientists, culture is the full range of learned
human behavior patterns.
• Our written languages, governments, buildings, and
other man-made things are merely the products of
culture. They are not culture in themselves.
• Culture is the way we learn to look at the world and
how we function in it.
• The totality of socially transmitted behavior patterns,
arts, beliefs, institutions, and all other products of
human work and thought typical of a population or
community at a given time.
Non-human culture?
This orangutan
mother is
using a specially
stick to "fish out" food
a crevice. She learned
skill and is now
teaching it
to her child who is
on her shoulder and
What is society?
• Societies are groups of people who directly or
indirectly interact with each other.
• People in human societies also generally
perceive that their society is distinct from
other societies in terms of shared traditions
and expectations.
Culture and Society
• Culture and society are not the same thing
• While cultures are complexes of learned
behavior patterns and perceptions, societies
are groups of interacting organisms
• They are inextricably connected because
culture is created and transmitted to others in
a society
Relationship Between Language,
Culture and Society
• In the normal transfer of information through
language, we use language
– to send vital social messages about
• who we are
• where we come from
• and who we associate with
• We may judge a person’s background,
character, and intentions based simply upon
the person's language
Relationship Between Language,
Culture and Society
• Sociology of language
– Focuses on the manner in which social and
political forces influence language use.
• Sociolinguistics
– Focuses on how language and language use reflect
the larger society
• The relationship between language and society
affects a wide range of encounters--from broadly
based international relations to narrowly defined
interpersonal relationships.
• The study of relationship between language and
• Sociolinguistics has become an increasingly
important and popular field of study with
Orientation of sociolinguistics
• Micro-sociolinguistics
Investigates how social structure influences the
way people talk & how language varieties and
patterns of use correlate with social attributes
such as age, gender, class.
• Macro-sociolinguistics
Studies what societies do with their language, i.e.
attitudes and attachments that account for
functional distribution of speech forms in society.
Rules !
Course Pack- a must.
No retakes.
Strict deadlines.
No mobile phones.
Note-taking preferred.