For some people, culture is equivalent to excellent tastes in literature, music, philosophy, art and so on. In the eyes of anthropologists, nevertheless, it has much broader meaning. British anthropologist Edward B. Taylor gave one of the first complete definitions of culture in his book ???Primitive Culture??? (1871), which told that culture includes socially acquired knowledge, belief, art, law, morals, customs and habits.
Later anthropologists came up with simpler categorizations of culture. A common hpractice is to divide all of culture into three broad categories: material, social and ideological culture. Material culture includes products of human manufacture, such as technology. Social culture pertains to people??™s forms of social organization??”how people interact and organize themselves in group. Ideological culture relates to what people think, value, believe and hold as ideals. Language is the principal means whereby we conduct our social lives. When it is used in contexts of communication, it is bound up with culture in multiple and complex ways.
To begin with, the words people utter refer to common experience. They express facts, ideas or event that are communicable because they refer to a stock of knowledge about the world that other people share. Words also reflect their authors??™ attitudes and beliefs, their point of view, that are those of other??™s. In both cases, language expresses cultural reality.
But members of a community or social group do not only express experience; they also create experience through language. They give meaning to it through the medium they choose to communicate with one another, for example, speaking on the telephone or face-to-face, writing a letter or sending an e-mail message, reading the newspaper or interpreting a graph or a chart. The way in which people use the spoken, written, or visual medium itself creates meaning that are understandable to the group they belong to, for example, through a speaker??™s tone of voice, accent, conversational style, gestures and facial expressions. Through all its verbal and non-verbal aspects, language embodies cultural reality.
Finally, language is system of sighs that is seen as having itself a cultural value. Speakers identify themselves and others through their use of language; they view their language as a symbol of their social identity. The prohibition of its use is often perceived by its speakers as a rejection of their social group and their culture. Thus we can say that language symbolizes cultural reality. (Claire Kramsch, 200)
Following those of sociologists and anthropologists, culture refers to the total pattern of belief, custom, institutions, objects, and techniques that characterize the life of a human community.
Idioms, in their brevity, vigour and unusualness, they are the life and spirit of language.
Idioms are not a separate part of the language which one can choose either to use or to omit, but they form an essential part of the general vocabulary of English. A description of how the vocabulary of the language is growing and changing will help to place idioms in perspective.
???Culture consists of all the shares products of human society,??? Ian Robertson says. This means not only such material things as cities, organizations and schools, but also non-material things such as ideas, customs, family patterns, language. Putting it simply, culture refers to the entire way of life of a society, ???the ways of people???.
Culture, however, is an approximation, a tendency, and an abstraction because it is a dynamic process, instead of a static one. Therefore, the classification of culture cannot be clear-cut.