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Before discussing the relationship between language and culture, we have to know the
definition of them. First, we talk about language. Let us follow some definitions about language.
A language is system of arbitrary, vocal symbol that permit all people in a given culture, or other
people who have learned the system of the culture, to communicate or to interact (Finocchioro, in
Ramelan, 1984)
A language is a system of arbitrary vocal symbol used for human communication (Wardhaugh, in
Ramelan, 1984)
A language is arbitrary system of articulated sounds made used by a group of human as a mean
of carrying on the affairs of their society (Francis, in Ramelan 1984)
A language is a set of rules enabling speakers to translate information from the outside world
into sounds (Gumper, 1972)
A language is a means of communication that use speech sound as a medium (Ramelan, 1984)

Based on the definitions of language above, we can state some characteristics of language:

Language is systematic
Language is a set of arbitrary symbol
Those symbols are primarily vocal
The symbols have conventionalized meanings to which they refer
Language is used for communication
Language operates in a speech community or culture
Language is essentially human
Language is acquired by all people in much the same way

After knowing the definitions of language, next we want to talk about culture.
Edward Sapir defines culture as pattern behavior. Each culture has unique pattern. These
culture pattern may be:
1. Static units (man, woman, horse, dog, cow, teacher, banker, animal, etc)
2. Processes (to rest, to study, to run, to think, to hear, to read, etc)
3. Qualities(good, bad, hot, cold, slow, fast, moral, immoral, etc)

These categories may be identified as the same in a given culture at a given time. This means that
culture embraces all aspects of shared life in a community. Culture is a way of life. Culture is a context
within which we exist, think, feel, and relate to others.
Culture as described by Larson and Emalley is a blue print. It guides the behavior of people in
community and is developed in family life.
According to Condon, culture is more than the sum of ideas, customs, skills, arts, and tools; it is
a system of integrated pattern, most of which unconsciously govern human behavior like strings of a
puppet control its emotions.


Language and culture according to J.R. Gladstone are enter twined. Language is an outcome or a
result of the culture as a whole and also a vehicle by which the other aspects of the culture are shaped
and communicated. The language we learn as a child gives us not only a system of communication but it
also dictates the type and the form of the communication we make.
A culture and the language used by it are inseparable. Most of the cultural attitudes when a
native speaker has built into him are reflected in his speech patterns. The native speaker also brings with
him to his language a background of knowledge that is culturally based. Language and culture are
connected in several other intricate and dynamic ways. The language is a product of culture, and the
culture is simultaneously shaped by how the language allows us to view it. The language and culture
reinforce each other. The culture begins by giving a view point. Language gives this idea oral expression
which in turn gives response to the view point.
Fatchul Muin and Sirajudin kamal. 2006. An Introduction (Teaching Material for
Sociolinguistics). Banjarmasin: PBS FKIP Lambung Mangkurat University.
Brown, H. Douglas. 1982. Principles of Language Teaching and Learning. New York: Addison
Wesley Longman, Inc.