aquarius wrote:Cavesa, do you mean that OTHER PEOPLE perceive speaking Russian publicly as a sign of sympathy with Russian politics, or do YOU perceive it like this?
Most people above 30 make the connection. Some of those claiming not to see it just clearly sympathise with that regime and values too. Some are the case of "I care about money, not values" but that is much more common in my generation, under 30. They also often happen to be the people not knowing the significance of the most important dates in our history, as some kinds of research show.
Nope, I am not some weird exception imagining things. It is not like under the communist regime (everybody was supposed to learn Russian but very few did, it was a sort of a protest to be bad at it), but the connection is very much alive and still supported by a part of our Russian minority (the new russians, behaving in some way just like the occupants). When you say Russian, most people will simply not remember a writer or a hockey player first.
I have no clue, why you would doubt the existence of this fenomenon. As a German, you should have some knowledge of the history and culture of our region.
Learning about a culture and being immersed in a culture is frequently assumed to lead to 'developing sympathy and respect for a culture', but it must not necessarily be like this. Personally, I have experienced that the more I'm interested in learning about the culture and the values of a country, the higher is the risk of coming across "something nasty hidden in the history" (or, much worse, in present times), and to be compelled to fall back to some kind of "compartmentalisation".
In this case, it's helpful for me to see that often there is not just one uniforme "culture" of a country, but lots of people with different values, opinions and styles of life.
Well, these are all nice phrases. It sounds good and there are some grains of truth there, sure. But it makes more sense to dive into this, when you are forced to learn a language you don't like for any reason (including English for a part of the learners). When you have a free choice, it makes more sense to gather enough information, and decide whether it is worth it, or you should put your free time into something less complicated, such as a language with nasty bits hidden deeper bellow the surface and easier to compartmentalise.
David1917 wrote:Sound the alarm, politics have entered the conversation.
I sympathize with what the Czechs endured during the Soviet years, and I can understand that an older section of the population is probably still turned off by hearing the Russian language at all. Today is a different story and it should not be discussed here.
As for the thread's topic, I don't think it makes sense to separate from the culture. You can be successful in certain cold transactions in foreign languages, sure, but to advance to higher levels your only options are to expose yourself to large swathes of the language, and that almost inevitably includes native books, magazines, newspapers, television, movies, plays, music - aka CULTURE.
Basically, I'd say there are two goalposts to set, the first one can be achieved without culture, the second would be impossible and basically pointless.
Excuse me, David, but it is not a totally different story today. If you had any experience, you would know. The damages are still here (and will be, for a few more generations), and the way Russia influences us today and the way many russians in the country treat us today is very real and it is directly connected to the language and how it is used. It is simply not distant past. But I understand that someone from a country without any historical experience with this could doubt that.
The purpose of the illustration was very simple, the discussion was going into weird turns, trying to dumb it to someone stupidly refusing to learn basic vocabulary!
A different example: Of course "Schnitzel" is not only a word but also a cultural fact, because it is a meal eaten in the German speaking countries and not in some others. The discussion is not about someone refusing to learn what a "Schniztzel" is, but more about a learner considering learning German despite not being interested in the German culture at all (that is actually a very common thing. Most Czechs couldn't care less about anything German but money. This attitude was also keeping me away from the language for more than a decade, as I was finding it very sad and boring), or about the learner considering whether to learn German despite coming from a family with tragical past during WW2. And those learners exist and I see them from time to time on the internet. Either considering whether to learn the language, or commenting like "it may be weird due to my Jewish background, but I am learning German, and I am enjoying these or those parts of the culture". These things are alive and learners consider them all the time.
About your last point, the word "almost" is important: There are people achieving C1 without any native content outside of their classes. So, while they are ready for quite a lot of situations and their exam, they certainly haven't devoured tons of cultural input.
And there are languages, that you could learn with tons of input but without any input really created by the native speakers.
So, for example the learner not interested in German culture at all, could still learn the language and get their hundreds of hours of input just from watching dubbed american shows (in how many languages does this forum's population watch Buffy, Friends, Peppa Pig,...) and reading translated books. It is certainly one of the possible solutions.
aokoye wrote:Eh I think you're pretty far off base here, especially given that one can easily point to cultural aspects of religion (and religious aspects of culture). Never mind that culture isn't bound to speaking to native speakers and that native speakers don't somehow hold all of cultural power of a language.
Also do you really think it's hard to find music written in Latin? Heck I've sung at least two secular pieces written with in the last 20 years in Latin. The only language of the ones that you listed I could see any of that being hard to find music and plays in is Ancient Egyptian.
I love this answer. Really, the culture tied to most languages is usually a really wide and varied collection of stuff. And only a narrow sample is being presented. What would definitely be awesome, would be making much more about the cultures widely known.
zenmonkey wrote:So no, no language can be learned without some sort of steeping in the culture of the language. Now it might be, much like a tea-bag, that one chooses the flavour or the strength of the cultural depth. How much of Cicero or Seneca are you going to read, what details of the Roman life do you need to read In Catilinam?
For me, the answer is absolutely vague. I truly think you can learn Japanese, Russian or whatever language to some depth while consciously ignoring large aspects or the related culture and history. Or by staying away from such aspects that one finds displeasing.
But at the end of the day, the absence of those hooks and references are just small handicaps in the language learning process.
If I say to the Spanish language learner "Que onda?" She can translate that directly to "what wave?" and it will have no particular meaning. Someone with a minor understanding of the culture of Mexico will clearly get that I'm giving a greeting equivalent to "What's up?".
Learning Arabic or Hebrew or Tibetan or Sanskrit without a minimum of religious referencing (needed for greetings, blessings and the most basic exchanges between two people that meet ...) is possible but results in parroting that is empty of sense.
Somewhere in here I think one can even drop the weak Sapir-Worf Hypothesis*.
It's an incredibly personal voyage to decide who much depth your own language learning will include and personally, it varies a lot for different languages how far I decide to investigate and learn.
Language is culture.
This is so beautifully written.
I'd say there would be significantly fewer people with negative views on language learning, if the individual decisions concerning "culture learning" were easier to follow. If the coursebooks offered more varied cultural image, if all the marketing lists "10 reasons to learn X" didn't regurgitate the same stuff all over, if people commenting on language learners didn't assume certain personal characteristics just based on the language.