Are language and culture elements of ethnicity?

Are language and culture elements of ethnicity?


Language is our means of communication, whether oral or written, it allows us to express ourselves and our feelings and emotions.
It can be defined in a more theoretical way as a communication system particularly developed in humans and much more specialized than in animals. It allows us to hear, understand and let others know. It is also the key to knowledge and the intellectual heritage of humanity.

Several groups may speak the same language, but sometimes not in the same way, because there are also geographical disparities within a country. This can also be the case depending on a person's profession and sector of activity.
There are therefore geographical, social and functional varieties that lead to the formation of dialects that add diversity to the language.


Culture is found in each person in a more or less present way, it results from our origins, our past, our lived experiences and also from the education that has been brought to us. From one country to another the culture will not be the same because the environment will be totally different and the ways of being are linked to the customs and habits of a people.

The exact definition is as follows: all the material and ideological phenomena which characterize an ethnic group or nation, a civilization as opposed to another group or nation. It also differs according to the social group and is characterized by the actions of each one. The culture unifies the community and creates diversity within it; the different generations do not have the same discourse.


Ethnicity is what characterizes a person, a group, a country, a nation on its values, beliefs, identity. Ethnicity relates to all the elements of a country's past that have formed a certain identity that is singular to other countries and that make it unique.
Ethnicity reveals a belonging to an ethnic group; it is linked to a common heritage of people who share the same culture, the same historical heritage and the same language.


Language and culture are also linked, a language designates a specific group in the same way as a culture. It is impossible to understand a country's culture without speaking its language. If you want to learn a new language and engage in language exchange you have to learn not only grammar, vocabulary etc. but also the associated social customs and behaviour.

You are probably familiar with the expression "language is culture and culture is language", it is the result of the homologous and complex relationship between language and culture. They have developed together and influenced each other in the course of their evolution. Culture is a consequence of human interaction and communications are the cultural manifestation of a specific community.
Language is therefore complex, we speak of paralangulation that is specific to a culture, which can lead to misunderstandings with people from different ethnic groups.

What is paralangulation? It consists in learning all the other forms of non-verbal communication that constitutes an ethnic group, whether it is gestures, intonations, looks. A work of imitation is necessary, the children do it with the parents, the close friends but also the people outside the intimate circle.


Language is culturally transmitted through education, children learn their language by listening, by being in contact with random words they encounter with their families. Then they are further taught their mother tongue, its structure, reading and writing at school but also later on another language.

Even if the basics have been acquired before the child goes to school, it is necessary to make adjustments afterwards so that the child has more solid notions. Culture is transmitted through language, teaching, language is the reason why human beings have a history.

Culture is very different in different parts of the world and in different languages, and is also likely to change over time. Just as languages evolve, culture grows at the same time, however, change may be more rapid in industrialized countries. Culture is not learned by imitation, but by teaching. Language provides a large amount of information that can be used by the community, which can accelerate the acquisition of new skills.

Writing has increased the dissemination of culture but also of information, which is further accelerated by the increase in literacy and the invention of printing.
Subsequently, modern transmission techniques such as radio and translation services have also contributed to making knowledge usable and accessible to all. So that access to culture, whether technological, scientific or social, is available to the whole world in all possible languages.


We can see that in the very definition of culture we find the word "ethnic group", which makes us understand that culture is indeed a key element of ethnicity. In the definition of ethnicity we see that its components are culture and language.

It is therefore obvious to state that language and culture are the main elements of a person's or a nation's ethnicity. Indeed, when we speak of the ethnic identity of a person we are indeed speaking of his geographical origin, which implies the language he possesses, but also cultural, which constitutes the habits and customs to which he conforms and identifies himself.

There are many cultural and sometimes linguistic disparities between the people of the same country in different regions.
Ethnicity differentiates people, their characteristics and their value; there is no better ethnicity or culture. Each ethnicity is a gift to be understood and learned, that is why travel and language exchange are important.

They will grow your culture and your personal environment, they will change your view of things and the world around you.
The world is full of different cultures and ethnicities, that's what makes human beings strong, nobody is the same and disparity is a strength.
If you would like to discuss the influence of language and culture within each other's ethnicity you can at the same time learn a new language on our Studenz site by talking to people from all over the world in the section language exchange.

Written by: Lisa Lambert, Staff Writer

Language Exchange