Our cultural and language differences have a breadth to them defined by the wild nature of nature. From my intuitive perspective, our cultural programming begins when the ears are turned on, if not before, and that’s in the womb. We hear — and we start “taking statistics” on sound. Correlation — with our own chemistry and mood; with the timbre and meaning of noise, so that we may discern what is important in listening and set aside similar data to focus on it — would seem a part of that process. By the time we get around to speaking ourselves or, later, reading, we have learned — or come to believe — an awful lot about cultural and physical aspects of our environment. Most fascinating, albeit again intuited: without language, we cannot suspend our cultures in time by transmitting the same through the tongue.
What’s up there is not such a bold new thought. Linguists have been long submerged beneath the surface of it and “taking statistics” themselves from observations of behavior in relation to language uptake in infancy.
What may be new given our access here to the Awesome Worldwide Conversation may be our adult ability to become both introspective and observing across language cultures faced with or hosting significant conflict-related violence and querying the sources of development of related psychological contributors. “Cognitive style”; “listening style”; “manners in speech”; “attitude-behavior correspondence” and its ancillaries in the individual’s interior development of beliefs and their emotional and logical primacy and weight.
Across cultures, do we hear and listen, read, and speak as if the same — or are we differentially programmed?
Down to households and up to high office, cultures support and perpetuate intellectual ecologies familiar to their residents but perhaps alien beyond themselves. That’s something to think about when launching an app, choosing movie or television program to watch in the “home theater”, or when opening a book or game with which one covertly, privately, interacts, mind-to-mind or mind-to-minds.
Mommy sends – baby receives: what do mothers send? What do babies get? Examine x dyad x household x community x region x state? Are things we may suppose universal actually so?
In the middle east conflict, there seem always to be things “everybody knows” that turn out not in the least true.
Better ask the flat earth believers: what are the effects of social conformance, fear, or anti-authority protest on what may be observed, argued, and measured (and re-observed, measured, and tested) as true?
Is there a difference between “political cant, propaganda, and rhetoric” and plain honest, valid, reliable, and responsible speech?
Addendum – FTAC – June 4, 2015
What’s relevant could be described as global ethnolinguistic survival and self-determination. Baloch, Kurds, Hebrews, Pashtun, and others (the earth’s inventory of living languages stands at around 7,000 speech communities, albeit with far fewer major language groups) share this interest in common. If you’re going to go after the Hebrew soul — as long as we’re confessing: I don’t speak Hebrew: I am solely an English-speaking American, and I am still Jewish — whose soul in being is to be dispensed with next? Arab heritage? Persian?
For various reasons, beginning with the discussion-inducing qualities of the Torah — whatever its injunctions, it sets out the broadest range of ethical and moral dilemmas and puzzles (what if Eve hadn’t eaten the “fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil?) — and moving on to figures like Maimonides and Hillel the Elder, the latter deliberately setting out to make Judaism more accessible to converts, what “Jewish” is remains ever arguable (except with simpletons like Hitler who thought it had to do with blood and measured that for murder — and theft — by distance from the legacy of Jewish family). Moreover, the same allows Jewish culture and life to grow and adapt to times over time without losing its essence, despite the occasional complaint from the presumptuously and magically more “authentic, pure, or real” Jew. In place of “Jew” place “Christian” for “Muslim” or “Buddhist” or “Hindu” and the same effects may apply: identity becomes more important than character; ritual supplants principle.
Language cultures may be a little different on the global landscape. Each is a part of our human library and inventory in manners, speech, and thought corresponding to the experience of life in some unique cultural space. While “updating” to access a modern (vs feudal / medieval) worldview and enjoy the benefits of that, we may also appreciate one another’s very different cultural adventure and experience to date — and be careful not to lose any.
Shall the earth’s dominant politics pit all against all?
Or shall we instead drift toward “harmonious relations” and see what might be achieved with “all for all” ascending and predominating?
The remark was prompted by listening to a colloquy on the heritage acquired by (imparted to; experienced by) the Jewish People as a people — but with reference to, I suppose, one might say, less authentic Jews.
Are Jews who don’t speak Hebrew still Jews?
Reference on YouTube (posted May 31, 2015): “BEIT MIDRASH LAVI – What is Israel’s Oral Law?”
Out of our abundant human adaptive and intellectual abilities, metaphysical thought puts up an astounding construction, if you will, in language: beliefs, miracles, legends, myths, fables, homilies, epigram, witticisms . . . all of those words — words, words! — shaping our outlook on existence itself.
Of late, I’ve been asking myself what it means to be an American these days, that as opposed to a hyphenated-American, an American modified by race, color, creed, religion, income, fitness level (“healthy American”), gender, sexual habits and preferences, preferences in housing style (are there “Cape Cod Americans”, “Rancher Americans”?), or location-based Americans (“urban Americans” vs “rural Americans”), not to mention Americans modified by political identity — “Red State Americans” vs “Blue State Americans”.
But put the ring on her finger and make the baby, and no matter what, and one is smothered back in the folds of priestly robes: baptism? Or bris? What church? Which synagogue?
And oh yeah — “Where did your people come from?”
Best answer to that: passion.
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