Friday, March 13, 2009

Cultural Insights from Sociology of Language

In every culture, there is significance in how you greet someone. For cultures, this is more defined than for others. In Japanese, you use entirely different forms to address someone who is considered a member of the “outside group” than you would in addressing a member of the “in group.” In many African languages, there are different ways to address someone depending on whether they are the same age as you, older than you, or younger than you.

How you address your father is also very important. I learned that in many cultures you can never use your father's first name. If someone else has the same first name, this can become tricky, since you can't say it and have to find other ways around it. In some ways, America is the same: it would be very strange to call your dad by his first name. However, in Africa it certainly seems a bigger deal. In Nigeria, the wife does not even call her husband by his first name. She calls him another word, maigida, which means literally “the owner of the house.” If there are children present, then you address the father with the name of the son: father of so and so. I hear this all the time: Mama Hannah, Mama Ada, etc. It seems to work well.

I just finished a history exam, and I think it went well. We had to write an essay on revivals from the 18th to the 20th century. I know a bit about that. Now I'm off home to finish editing someone's paper, maybe work a bit more on my sermon for Sunday, take a shower, and make some rice for taco night. Then I'm off to taco night, and tomorrow the work continues. 3 papers left, 2 finals, 2 weeks. Manageable.


m.peter.chang said...

Yeah the work sounds managable.
I think in Japanese the wife refers to the her husband as "anata," so that's kind of similar to the Nigerian wife's name for the husband.

David said...

I didn't know that about Japanese. What about in Chinese? Is it similar too?