Culture is the system of shared beliefs, values, and behaviors. This common denominator frames the way of life in a society. Culture can have material or non-material forms. Let us discuss their specific traits and definitions to better understand the concept of culture.
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The notion of material culture stands for everything used, made or shared by the representatives of a specific society, creating a so-called buffer against the environment. Material culture includes such components as objects and creations of humankind. They are cars, computers, minerals, trees, and the list goes on. The paramount achievement in the material culture is the employment of knowledge and the conversion of raw materials into a usable thing. The example for that is the building of a dwelling to create a shelter for oneself, as well as wearing certain types of clothes that reflect our culture and creating essential items that convey our cultural orientation.
On the other hand, non-material culture comprises the invisible human creations, as well as the behavioral impact of the culture’s representatives on the society. Languages, symbols, customs, perceptions, behavioral patterns, beliefs, norms, and values are the main components of this form of culture. It also includes such social institutions as schools, churches, family, and so on. Since language is one of the key components, it is necessary to examine it separately.
Language can be defined as a combination of verbal and non-verbal symbols that convey certain ideas and allow people to think and communicate with each other. This unique tool helps to describe the reality, share feelings and experiences. Utilizing the language, people can create visual images, maintain their societal cohesion, and transmit their culture to the following generations.
Languages differ in various cultures and societies. For instance, some aboriginal communities neglect the linguistic norms that are traditional and important in other languages. A good example is the way they omit the use of personal pronouns that are commonly utilized to describe gender (he or she). Many other cultures also have their own peculiarities reflected in the language they speak.
In some countries, the language diversity exerts a great influence on the culture. For example, in Canada, there are communities that speak English, French, and different Aboriginal languages; their combination definitely enriches the cultural background of the country’s citizens. Of course, certain problems also occur in the multi-lingual societies due to the emerging inequalities of different languages. The aboriginals in Canada, for instance, assume that English is considered as a language of prestige and power, while their own languages are pushed back.
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Culture is an indispensable part of each and every society. It affects the way people think and feel about themselves, allowing them to have a sense of identity. Both material and non-material forms of culture are essential, since together they create the society and make it different from others.