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Culture. Basics, Language, Religion and Ethnicity. Family Culture Interviews:. Interview each other. # of people living in home: size of “nuclear family”: From where did family originate? amount of time spent with relatives outside of “nuclear” family (daily? yearly?): Favorite foods:

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Basics, Language, Religion and Ethnicity

Family culture interviews

Family Culture Interviews:

  • Interview each other.

    • # of people living in home:

    • size of “nuclear family”:

    • From where did family originate?

    • amount of time spent with relatives outside of “nuclear” family (daily? yearly?):

    • Favorite foods:

    • Favorite activities:

    • Known values (education, sports, music, art, etc.)

    • Customs: (family meals, religious activities, etc.)

    • Rules (chores, expectations, allowed responses, visitors, etc.)

    • Type of home:

    • Expected type of career (based on parental expectations):

    • Anything else special related to family?

Family culture interviews1

Family Culture Interviews:

  • Mine:

    • # of people living in home: 5

    • size of “nuclear family”: 5

    • From where did family originate? Mainly Europe, 1/16 Kiowa

    • amount of time spent with relatives outside of “nuclear” family (daily? yearly?): 2-3 weeks per year

    • Favorite foods: Italian, German, Standard American

    • Favorite activities: Reading, sports, music, clubs/activities

    • Known values: each succeed to your ability, if not full-time school then work full-time, work hard, respect authority

    • Customs: family meals, walks with Mom, helping Dad with household jobs

    • Rules: expected to do well in school, be respectful, strict curfew, chores, don’t lie, don’t embarrass family

    • Type of home: single family, suburban/rural

    • Expected type of career: whatever you were good at and could make a living at

What is culture

What is culture?

  • “way of life” (de la Blache)

  • “attitudes, objectives and technical skills of a people”

  • Human traits acquired through formal or informal learning process

  • Specialized behavioral patterns, understandings, adaptations, and social systems that summarized a group’s LEARNED way of life.

General cultural development

General Cultural Development

  • General Cultural Development

    • Agricultural Revolution:

      • Change?

      • Religion: hunter vs. farmer

      • Results?

    • Religious revolutions:

      • Changing societal hierarchies and roles

      • Theocracy vs. ????

    • Industrial Revolution:

      • Technology

      • Urbanization

    • Democratic Revolution:

      • Reaction against?

Differences and similarities between groups

Differences and Similarities between groups

  • Differences:

    • Isolation

    • Different groups develop techniques to solve regionally varied problems of securing food, clothing and shelter

      • Environmental Determinism

      • Environmental Possibilism

  • Similarities

    • Diffusion

    • Independent Innovation



  • Diffusion barriers

    • Friction of distance/ distance decay

    • Absorbing barriers

    • Interrupting barriers

    • Semi-permeable

  • Exchange of ideas:

    • Acculturation

    • Assimilation

    • Cross-cultural fertilization

Why geographers study language

Why geographers study language


¿Cómo estás?

  • the single most common variable by which cultural groups are identified

  • the main means by which culture passes from one generation to the next

  • they reinforce the sense of region and place

  • Some 6,000 languages and many more dialects are spoken today


Danke Schön


  • Languages — tongues that cannot be mutually understood

  • Dialects — variantforms of a language have some mutual comprehension

    • A dialect is distinctive enough in vocabulary and pronunciation to label its speaker

  • Pidgin language — results when different linguistic groups come into contact

    • Serves the purposes of commerce

    • Has a small vocabulary derived from the various contact groups

  • Creole language- when a pidgin becomes the native tongue of a group and develops in complexity

  • Lingua franca — (Frankish Tongue) a language that spreads over a wide area where it is not the mother tongue

    • A language of communication and commerce



  • Kenya has two official languages:

    • Swahili and English.

  • Swahili (Creole language) developed along the coast of East Africa.

  • English came during the British colonial period.


isoglosses — bordersof individual word usages or pronunciations

  • Typically cluster together in “bundles”

  • Bundles serve as dividing lines among dialects and languages

English dialects in the united states

English dialects in the United States

  • At least three major dialects, corresponding to major culture regions, developed on the east coast by the time of the American Revolution

    • Northern

    • Midland

    • Southern



  • Today, many regional words = old-fashioned, but new words display regional variations

  • controlled-access divided highway =

    • Freeway — a California word

    • Turnpike and parkway — mainly northeastern and Midwestern words

    • Thruway, expressway, and interstate

English dialects in the united states1

English dialects in the United States

  • Many African-Americans speak their own form of English — Black English (Ebonics)

    • From a pidgin that developed on early slave plantations

    • Many features separate it from standard speech, for example:

      • Lack of pronoun differentiation between genders

      • Use of undifferentiated pronouns

    • Often not recognized as a separate linguistic group (seen as speaking standard English poorly)

London england

London, England

  • Not all English words are mutually intelligible.

  • London tube sign

    • Means?

  • Tubes, subway, and busking = dialect words

***Busking is the practice of performing in public places for tips and gratuities. ***


Americans say:

Canadians say:

first grade (100%)

grade one (88%)

candy bar (80%)

chocolate bar (88%)

faucet (91%)

tap (74%)

zee (99%)

zed (74%)

studio apartment (71%)

bachelor apartment (61%)

ATM (89%)

bank machine (57%)

gutters (91%)

eavestroughs (58%)

soda (57%)

pop (70%)

silverware (83%)

cutlery (51%)

restroom (55%)

washroom (52%)

Top ten variables differentiating Canadian and American English (national averages).

History of english

History of English

  • Old English: 450- 1100 CE

    • Old German meets Celt

    • Norse invasion

    • Beowulf

  • Middle English: 1100- 1500 CE

    • Old German/Celtic meets Old French (Nordic)

    • 1066: Normans

    • Chaucer

Modern english 1500 current day

Modern English: 1500- current day

  • Early Modern:

    • German/ Celtic/ French (Nordic) meets new words and changes pronunciation (Great vowel shift- shorter sounds)

    • Exploration

    • Shakespeare

  • Late Modern

    • Standardized Spelling

    • Changes in vocabulary (Industrial Revolution)

Language families

Language families

  • The Indo-European language family

    • Largest most wide-spread family

    • Subfamilies—Romance, Slavic, Germanic, Indic, Celtic, and Iranic

      • Subfamilies are divided into individual languages

    • By comparing vocabularies in various languages one can see the kinship

Mother = Madre = Màthair = Mutter = Mère = Mati = Mataji

Indo european diffusion

Indo-European diffusion

  • Earliest speakers from southern and southeastern Turkey (Anatolia) ca. 8 or 9 thousand years ago

    • Diffused west and north into Europe

      • 2 theories:

        • Spread of agriculture

        • conquest

  • Later language diffusion occurred with the spread of great political empires: Latin, English, and Russian

    • Conqueror’s language spread hierarchically

      • Spread of Latin with Roman conquests

      • Spanish in Latin America

Other major language families

Other major language families

  • Sino-Tibetan language family

    • 2nd largest language family

      • 403 languages

    • Extends throughout most of China and Southeast Asia

    • Mandarin and Cantonese = dialects or languages?

  • The Afro-Asiatic family

    • Has two major divisions—Semitic and Hamitic

      • Semitic → from Tigris-Euphrates valley westward across the north half of Africa

        • Arabic is the most widespread Semitic language

        • Hebrew (which used to be “dead”) is the official language of Israel

      • Smaller number speak Hamitic languages

        • Expansion of Arabic decreased the area and number of speakers

Searching for the first language

Searching for the first language

  • The “Ur language”

  • Nostratic—ancestralspeech of Middle East 12,000 to 20,000 years ago

    • Ancestor to nine modern language families

    • A 500-word dictionary has been compiled

  • Contemporary to ↑: Dene-Caucasian

    • led to Sino-Tibetan, Basque, and Native-American: Na-Dene

The environment and vocabulary

The environment and vocabulary

  • Spanish language

    • rough terrain

    • differences in shape and configuration of mountains

  • Scottish Gaelic

    • rough terrain

    • Common attribute spoken by hill people

  • Romanian tongue

    • rugged terrain

    • use of terrain for livestock herding

  • English

    • Developed in wet coastal plains

    • Poor in words describing mountainous terrain

The environment provides refuge

The environment provides refuge

  • Inhospitable environments offer protection and isolation

    • Harder or less likely to be conquered

    • Mountains tend to isolate inhabitants

    • Linguistic refuge areas

      • Rugged hill and mountain areas

      • Excessively cold or dry climates

      • Impenetrable forests and remote islands

      • Extensive marshes and swamps

Examples of linguistic refuge areas

Examples of linguistic refuge areas

  • Caucasus Mountains

  • Alps, Himalayas, and highlands of Mexico are linguistic shatter belts

  • American Indian tongue Quechua → Andes Mountains of South America

  • Rocky Mountains of northern New Mexico, still has an archaic form of Spanish

  • Appalachian Mts- historically preserved 17th century English



  • Switzerland has four recognized national languages: French, German, Italian, and Romansch.

  • Romansch, Latin group, is spoken by only 1.1% of the population.

Facts on religion

Facts on Religion

  • Religion is a great binding force in societies, especially those less dominated by technology

  • Religions change over time

  • religions have been adopted across cultural barriers and language boundaries

Religion s role in society

Religion's role in society

  • In some countries it practically constitutes culture

  • Religion manifests itself in many different ways

    • Worship of souls of ancestors in living natural objects

    • Belief that certain living persons possess capacities granted by a supernatural power

    • Belief in a deity or deities

  • In Western, industrialized, urbanized societies religion has become subordinate to secular culture and government

  • Effect on culture

    • "good" life has rewards and "bad" behavior risks punishment- controlling individual behavior

    • Modes of dress acceptable and foods a person can or cannot eat

    • Commercial practices

    • Location and structure of houses


Major World Religions

Vocabulary of religions

Vocabulary of Religions

  • Inclusive vs. Exclusive

    • Inclusive- “our” way is right for us, but that doesn’t mean everyone else is wrong.

    • Exclusive= any who don’t follow “OUR” beliefs is wrong and will be punished in the afterlife.

  • Sect, Denomination, Cult

    • Divisions of a religion.

    • Cult - used negatively, really refers to ANY religion

  • Syncretism

    • When 2 things blend to create a new idea

  • Agnostic vs. Atheistic

    • Agnostic- unsure about “what’s out there”

    • Atheistic- sure that there isn’t anything “out there.”

Vocabulary of religions1

Vocabulary of Religions

  • Apostate vs. Convert

    • Apostate- leaves a religion or religious group

    • Convert- joins a religion or a religions group

  • Blasphemy vs. Heresy vs. Dogma vs. Infidel

    • Dogma- accepted beliefs and traditions in a religion

    • All the others- going against the dogma of a religion

  • Solstice and Equinox

    • Mark the change of seasons- important days in many religions, especially early ones

  • Morals vs. Ethics

    • Morals- ideas about right and wrong - from religion

    • Ethics- ideas about right and wrong - from society

Vocabulary of religions2

Vocabulary of Religions

  • Fundamentalist vs. Conservative vs. Liberal

    • Fundamentalist- interpret every word of their religion literally as absolutely true- no interpretation

    • Conservative- allows for a little interpretation, change over time

    • Liberal- allows more interpretation, religious writings seen as more symbolic in meaning, rather than literally true

  • Idol

    • Something which is admired excessively or worshipped

  • Myth

    • Religious stories which we don’t believe or that we believe have been disproved. (Apply to ANY religion)

  • Avatar

    • Physical form of deity, come to earth to accomplish a particular task

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