Language and Cultural Diversity in the United States


There is a myriad of cultural and racial backgrounds which dominate the United States of America today. As a result, language and culture are equally diverse in this broad society. Different cultural and language backgrounds of the American population has precipitated the need for better cultural and language integration in all aspects of people’s life. For instance, the provision of health care is one area of need that heavily depends on the thorough understanding of the background of patients. This may not be possible if there is a missing link between linguistics and culture (Kramsch, 1998). A shrewd understanding of the effect of these two different but interrelated concepts is necessary if professionals in the healthcare sector will have to provide the best services to patients and also of accredited quality which does not only meet the standards of the healthcare organization but also the entire population(Fortson, 2010). The cultural language used in the article “culture and language” from Edward Sapir, an American-born linguistic first suggested the relevance of using language to depict culture. Further, it was later proposed that language use determines how individuals develop their own perception of the world. There are several instances when language and culture are distinct from each other both in terms of use and meaning. For example, concepts in languages can be expressed by one or quite several words which have been integrated together to make some meaning (Anon., 2010).. A case study of the Arabic language reveals that in order to depict an animal like a horse, certain particular words are made use of. On a similar note, the English language can also be used to make desired differences or give a vivid mental picture of a circumstance or situation.

The manner in which culture differs has equally been linked with the style language is applied. For instance, the American culture has universally adopted the use of verbal communication in the acquisition of new skills and knowledge. However, there are some cultures that apply non-verbal communication in the learning process. Additionally, independent and cooperative acquisition of skills and knowledge has also been promoted by some cultures (Fortson, 2010).

The different duties and responsibilities as performed by both the young and old generations have a direct determination on the use of language. Contexts that are derived from either school or household environment may equally depict varying cultures. Moreover, the acquisition of language can also be influenced by some form of sub-culture with which children have direct interaction.

There are different roles played by nonverbal communication depending on the culture under consideration. An example of this type of communication is facial expression. A contextual cue is also nonverbal and can be applied during cultural interaction when certain experiences are being shared (Kramsch, 1998). Children who are not in a position to talk are rather spoken to in certain cultures because they are considered to be linguistically incapable of expressing themselves. Furthermore, such cultures may pursue the experience of speaking to children as a cultural way of imparting knowledge to them. In some cases, they are only allowed to talk or give their responses when grown-ups speak to them and not vice versa. Initiating conversations by children is also not permitted in such cultural contexts (Anon., 2010). Besides, there are some cultures that perceive children who readily and voluntarily give answers in school as proud characters. Better still, there are some cultures where children are asked questions that require some level of thinking and which attempts to engage the brain contrary to simple questions which may merely require recitation.

The use of language in the educational arena also highlights the relevance or role played by culture. For example, the modes in which rendition of stories are performed or even the patterns which verbal interaction assume during communication especially in a classroom environment t when a teacher is passing some information. The concept of the verbal-deficit perspective which was developed in the 1970s to 80s was later accepted as a norm and culture whereby a viewpoint on the perfection of the English language was devised (Kramsch, 1998). The use of standard and well recognized English language was considered to be important as far as the language culture was concerned. This perspective had it that those who used poor English had no language at all and were considered to be deficient in terms of verbal use.

The socialization mismatch hypothesis attempts to explain why performance is varied from children originating from different linguistic roots. In some cases, these children learn with very minimal ease. According to this hypothesis, children will tend to achieve more from their learning experience when there is a match in language use between home and school environment (Anon., 2010). Those children who originate from cultural backgrounds where the use of the English language is not formal are more likely to experience this difficulty.

Hence, it is evident that language plays different roles in different cultures. The role of language is also depicted by the cultural environment in which the event is happening. It is indeed factual that the use of both verbal and nonverbal communication are all effective in the transmission and acquisition of knowledge and both modes of communication may only be relevant if the culture under operation permits it to be so.


Anon. (2010). Culture and Language. Web.

Fortson, W.B. (2010). Indo-European Language and Culture: An Introduction, West Sussex: Blackwell Publishing.

Kramsch, J.C. (1998). Language and culture, New York: Oxford University Press.

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