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aidan

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  • Exams
    May 2010
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    United Kingdom
  1. I disagree with most of the comments here in that I think Language does inherently contain knowledge, as well as, of course, being a medium for the communication and recording of information acquired through other ways of knowing. Language can reveal two main types of information: 1) Knowledge about the culture from which it comes in terms of their 'frame' (ways of thinking about things, dealing with concepts and abstract ideas, priorities and even belief systems). Think about idioms and clichés such as I haven't the foggiest(British weather? haha), acid test (scientific background), God knows (religion); the wealth of information that can be gleaned from even just these three trivial examples is astonishing. 2) Reflective information about the history of the language (and it's mother culture). The obvious example for this is the multitude of 'loanwords' from other languages you can find when you peer into any language. In English, for example, there are blatantly 'stolen words' such as déjà vu/café/avant-garde from French, wunderkind/doppelgänger/kaputt from German etc. but also words fully integrated into our language e.g. typhoon (tái fēng), gung ho (gōng hé), ketchup (qié zhī) from chinese, booze, anchor, slurp, tattoo and countless others from Dutch, flack, lager, rucksack, abseil from German...you get the idea... All this information offers fascinating insight into migration and trading patterns, intercultural relations and dominance (Latin, for example, is a mishmash of languages from cultures the Romans conquered) and can often even trace concepts and ideas back to their originating cultures with suprising accuracy. Damn, that was more than I had intended to write...hope it helps
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