Language, Culture and Meal Times. Essay

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Language is central in creating a social connection with culture (Leveridge, 2008). By analysing the family Discourse of an evening meal, the fundamental concepts of this relationship can be shown to be complexly interlinked. The elemental theories of modern studies on the subject will initially be converged to synthesise a detailed understanding of the relationship between culture and language. Subsequently, the usage of language during meal times in a multicultural Australian family will be examined, and finally the relationship between the language used and the culture of this Discourse will be evaluated in relation to these theoretical studies.
Language is dynamic (Alford, 2011). Integral to this is culturally linked meaning which allows for communication within various social Discourses (Kramsch, 2006) (Emmitt & Pollock, 2003). As defined by linguist James Gee (YEAR), a post-modernist view of these ‘capital D Discourses’ is that they are “ways of using language, of thinking, feeling, believing, valuing and acting that can be used to identify oneself as a member of a socially meaningful group or ‘social network’” (Kramsch, 2006). These exist within all cultures – language cultures, urban and rural, popular, cyber and others - and essentially link together culture and language (Kramsch, 2006). The purpose of the language within these Discourses determines which of two forms of language is used - transactional or interactional (Emmitt & Pollock, 2003) (Corbett, 2003). While both are highly goal orientated, interactional talk is bound closer in every respect to culture, by the language’s use of phonemes and morphemes to create culturally meaningful sentences, and through its use of paralinguistics and voice to convey further mea...

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...ual Matters. Retrieved March 2012, from
Emmitt, M., & Pollock, J. (2003). An overview of language and learning. Language and learning: An introduction for teaching. 3rd edn., pp. 2-19. Oxford: OUP. Retrieved March 2012
Gee, J. P. (1991). What is literacy? Rewriting literacy: Culture and the discourseof the other, pp. 3-11. Westport, Conneticut; London: Bergin and Garvey. Retrieved March 2012
Kramsch, C. (2006). Culture in Language Teaching. In H. Anderson, K. Lund and K. Risager (Eds.). Culture in Language Learning, pp. 11-26. Aarhus: Aarhus University Press. Retrieved March 2012
Leveridge, A. N. (2008, Spetember). The Relationship Between Language & Culture and the Implications for Language Teaching. Retrieved March 28, 2012, from TEFL:

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