2. ‘The most important factor unifying any national culture is a common language.’ Discuss.
This is an interesting statement as many people have very different opinions. In order to unpick the statement, the key words should be analysed. In this case, the words being ‘culture’ and ‘language’. A definition from the Cambridge dictionary states that culture is the ” way of life, especially the general customs and beliefs, of a particular group of people at a particular time” here there is no reference or link to language. Language is defined by the Cambridge dictionary as “a system of communication consisting of sounds, words, and grammar, or the system of communication used by people in a particular country or type of work”. Even though within the definition there is no explicit link. It is language which allows us to pass down how we live in certain countries – it helps us pass down the culture (s).
A common language for many people is central to unifying a national culture however to other people there are other concepts that are more important. Language in relation to culture gives people a sense of identity and pride and furthermore enables a proper communication and understanding as opposed to chaos and division. Without it, many countries would not feel the nationalistic pride that comes when you hear many people speaking your same language. However, national identity can also be made of different cultures. An example of this can be shown by Mexico. Someone from the south of Mexico practises a very different culture than someone from the north however they share a national identity.
There is an author called Edward Sapir who believe that language is somewhat important when it comes to uniting a culture. However, he disagrees with the statement and consequently believes that a common language is not the most important factor in uniting a culture because there exist completely unrelated languages in one culture. For example, in Mexico, there are native languages from the Aztecs and the Mayans and these groups of people who speak these languages have a culture however one could argue that people in Mexico who speak the classic Spanish have grown away from these other cultures even though all of these people are from the same country. This is something which applies to many countries all over the world. History changes culture and language within countries but countries still remain together and patriotic.
However, Sapir also makes a point that language cannot always keep the culture of a nation together. An example of this would be the United Kingdom, Ireland and the United States they all share a common language however they are completely different nations because of the politics and historical changes the countries have undergone.
At this day and age, there are main languages which are spoken all over the world. English, Spanish and French. Potentially in the future, one of the languages will be Chinese. These are languages that are common between many, many different people and bring many people around the world together. Here the language may not be uniting a culture but it is bringing together a mass of people who can share (/talk about their cultures.)
On the other hand, an example which proves that a common language is the most important factor to unify a national culture is the country of Italy. Because the country for so many years was occupied by different European countries, the country had nothing in common, not even the language. It took decades after Italy was finally liberated from foreign rule before there was a singular chosen vernacular for the whole of Italy. When it was finally chosen, more people could come together because schools and universities were teaching the same things in the same languages. An example which links to this would be the country of France, because during the 1800s, France had many dialects such as regional languages and dialects from the different social classes. There was no such thing as standardised French until a new French education system got introduced.
To conclude, in my opinion, the most important factor unifying any national culture is a common language. This is partly because of historical reasons. As I mentioned before the Spaniards invaded Mexico and other parts of south America, consequently giving them the Spanish language. Their national cultures are somewhat similar because of this. Therefore, it is the language amongst other things which is uniting these different cultures. On the other hand others might disagree with the statement because of the main languages which are spoken by the whole world. For example, just because a lot of people from different countries speak French or English. It does not mean that the language is unifying any national culture. They are merely people who speak the same language but share no common culture.