Language, Culture, and Behavior

July 12, 2010
COM 200: Interpersonal Communication
Professor Doug Seigler

Language, Culture, and Behavior
Can one’s culture affect their communication behaviors?   According to an article by Margaret Cote entitled “Language Reflects Culture”, the answer is yes.   She begins by discussing the cultural differences between the Saulteaux Indian language and the English language.   She states that “language determines the way a person views the world” and describes how Indian people view things around them differently than English speaking people do (Cote, 1985).   She bases this on her personal experience of being fluent in Saulteaux and English and states “I have two different attitudes and even two different personalities, depending on which language I use” (Cote, 1985).   In this paper I will discuss how attitudes and behavior are determined by the language one speaks and how language does indeed reflect a culture.
Culture is an important in your life because it is a part of who you are.   It not only influences your perception of yourself and others, but your perception of everything in life with which you have contact (Hybels & Weaver, 2007).   Concepts and objects have frames of reference that differ from culture to culture (Cote, 1985).   Many cultures have their own language and therefore, the meaning of a word in one language may not be the same in another.   For example, Cote explains that when she returns home the language she speaks and her cultural identity is determined by the topic of the conversation.   If she is discussing her personal life or culture related topics, she speaks Saulteaux and if she is discussing her studies she speaks English due to the Saulteaux language being “very literal and exact which makes it difficult to translate one language to another “(Cote, 1985).  
Different cultures have different beliefs and values which are expressed in their language, whether it be verbal or non-verbal.   Countless misunderstandings occur in...