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By Anna Wierzbicka

During this groundbreaking e-book, Wierzbicka demonstrates that each language has its «key thoughts» and that those key suggestions replicate the middle values of the tradition. additional, she argues that inside a culture-independent analytical framework possible research, examine, or even clarify cultures to outsiders via their key techniques. The framework Wierzbicka proposes is the well known «natural semantic metalanguage» that she constructed along with her colleagues. For this examine, Wierzbicka specializes in 4 languages and cultures:Japanese , Australian English, Polish, and Russian. She identifies «culture weighted down» phrases in each one of those languages those phrases are, in a feeling, «untranslatable. « She indicates, despite the fact that, that the phrases could be «explained» by way of meansof the semantic metalanguages hypothetical semantic primitives akin to a person, whatever, do, take place, wish, say, be aware of, imagine, solid, undesirable , and so forth.

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Understanding Cultures through Their Key Words: English, Russian, Polish, German, and Japanese (Oxford Studies in Anthropological Linguistics)

During this groundbreaking e-book, Wierzbicka demonstrates that each language has its «key thoughts» and that those key recommendations replicate the center values of the tradition. additional, she argues that inside a culture-independent analytical framework you can research, evaluate, or even clarify cultures to outsiders via their key thoughts.

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Additional resources for Understanding Cultures through Their Key Words: English, Russian, Polish, German, and Japanese (Oxford Studies in Anthropological Linguistics)

Example text

In the second chapter of this book I will study different conceptions of interpersonal relations historically transmitted in a few different cultures ("Anglo," Russian, Polish, and Australian) and reflected in key words. The inclusion of both "Anglo" and "Australian" cultures brings us face to face with the issue of unity and heterogeneity: Australian culture is associated with the English language, as is also "Anglo" culture in Britain, America, and elsewhere. Both the unity and diversity of "Anglo" culture are reflected in the lexicon: the unity in the pan-English word friend, and the diversity in the Australian-English word mate (with its own semantic profile and high cultural salience).

For the same reason that bilingual witnesses are better placed than monolinguals to affirm the reality of different languages, bicultural witnesses are better placed than "monolingual monoculturals" to affirm the reality of different cultures, however heterogeneous and lacking in fixed contours these cultures may be. One cannot discover the special "identity" of one's own culture (however heterogeneous it might be) until one becomes deeply and intimately acquainted with, and challenged by, another, to the point of developing a novel self.

The expression to make friends is indeed significant, and it does imply some expectation of "control," but it is a specifically English expression, without equivalents in many other European (let alone, non-European) languages; and moreover, it is an expression which emerged only in modern English, thus reflecting changes in the patterning of human relations and in their conceptualization in modern Anglo societies. What this illustrates is that what people regard as "common sense" is bound up with a particular language, and that just as languages change and differ, so do "common-sensical" assumptions about human relations, as well as everything else.

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