Language and  culture have a complex correlation. In fact, both evolved. A. L. Krober, a cultural anthropologist, one wrote that, “Culture started when speech was available and from that beginning, the enrichment of one led to the other to develop further.” Young children learn their language and culture from the society where they are born. In the process of language learning, they develop their cognitive abilities. The cognitive abilities of language learning relate to culture’s communicative pressure. This means that a child connects reality such as events, feelings and identities. The societies that live in the world are largely different, So is language different. In fact, no two languages are the same. According to the principle of linguistic relativity, people’s thought of the world is directly affected by the language that such people use to discuss the world itself. 

In addition, communication is very essential. This means that speaking a particular language shows that a person is assuming a particular culture. Then, knowing another culture based on this same principle means knowing a second language (L2). In other to fully interpret what the world truly represents through communication, inter language sets in. 

Inter language occurs when an idiolect (a person’s specific and unique way of speaking a language) is developed by a second language (L2) learner with features of the first language (L1). For example, it takes an extra skill for the second language learners of English to different between the correct pronunciations of words with double ‘oo’ spelling. This extra skill spells out the fact that the ‘oo’ in words like book, good, and look, are short /u/ while the ‘oo’ in words like pool, fool, and stool, are long /u:/ sound. Also, learners of the English language speak the pidgin or broken English because they are foreign learners of the language. You will hear an expression like: “Wetin be your name?” instead of “What’s your name?”

Furthermore, when two or more social norms are adopted by people with different cultures, we have inter-culture. Inter-cultural relations are very popular today. For example, many Nigerians, from different cultures who live in Abuja, widely consume the local drink made of grains-‘Kunu’. This is irrespective of the fact that these people do not have a recipe for the drink in their various tribes. This illustration clearly explains inter-culture. Communication using language also becomes crucial. This is because for any person to get along and understand people whose background and beliefs are generally different, they must understand each other through language. 

Language is learnt. It is through the learning and teaching of other languages that culture can be transmitted. Children learn their first language based on words they are randomly exposed to as they have different encounters with the society they live in. The child is taught how to read , write and construct sentences in school. The exposure to first language was done at home, before the child went to school. 

Languages are different and so are cultures. Both language and culture are dynamic. So, they can change over a period of time. Language and culture change is faster in developed countries. The language that we speak influences our cultural identity. Learning a new language and culture breed peace, co-existence and oneness amongst people. This is very important, especially in a heterogeneous culture like Nigeria.

About the Author

Nancy Immaculate Akarulam holds a masters degree in Education, from the University of Abuja, in Nigeria, where she currently resides. She teaches English language at the NAOWA college, Abuja. Her research interests are in Language, Literature and Education.

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