Language Culture and the Brain: Ties Between Neurolinguistics and Linguistic Anthropology As Seen in Japanese, English (British and American), and Arabic

Essay by fatima823University, Bachelor'sA+, March 2005

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In sociological contexts, language and culture are often linked. Linguistic Anthropology is an entire field of study dedicated to the interaction between language and culture. There is also an emerging field dedicated to the relationship between language and the brain: Neurolinguistics. However, culture and language are not as commonly associated together within a neurological or biological context. Yet, there are proven correlations between the actual structures and concepts in languages most commonly spoken within cultures. The defining actions and concepts of the cultures themselves in relation to how the brain processes them are worth examining. Specific examples of these correlations include, Japanese, American, British, and Arab cultures and their respective languages.

Within cultures there are a few universal concepts that have parallels in the realm of language. Some of the concepts include: politeness, the concept of "face" (a term coined by sociologists Penelope Brown and Richard Levinson to explain interactions in politeness) deference, and group identity.

More generally, the actual structure of the language spoken in a society often correlates to the norms and standards of the culture expressed by the society.

In addition to structural and conceptual correlations, there are vast similarities in the manner in which the human brain, or neural networks processes language and the way that it processes culture. The data garnered by studies and simulations done on language processing through the use of artificial neural networks and synthetic brain imaging can be compared to the information about cultural acquisition and the processing of cultural concepts.

It is very difficult to study the human brain and neural system directly because of ethical and practical reasons. That is why scientists replicate the neural system, to some extent, using artificial neural networks. They study the brain using synthetic brain imaging. In the past, artificial neural networks were only...