Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Is a Particular Language Universal?

Structuralists believe that language holds the structures of society together. These believe that the rules of grammer determine the meaning. But, others do not believe this to be so.

In free societies, I know that words can have many meanings, because we allow for vast experiences that "form" or "condition" the meaning of certain words. But, in societies where certain terms are considered "sacred" or significant in some other way, I wonder how diverse the views might be. Wouldn't there be a limitation to meaning of "sacred words"?

This got me thinking about the term, "marriage". "Marriage" is understood in our society as a contract, as it is a legal document that binds the parties together under voluntary consent. But, there might be more meaning given to this word, if one is prone to understand marriage in a sacred context.

Marriage, then becomes a covenant, because God becomes a party to the contract. Religions tend to structure society around these structural units. But, the way they understand them and whether they are voluntary, between equal parties, or whether they are even between two individuals will vary greatly depending on the cultural context and the religion's definitions.

The experience of the individual within different societies will determine whether there will be different understandings of terms in a given language. And religion determines whether this is a possibility.

The question then becomes for me; "Is the individual the primary source of "expression" and giftedness to society. Therefore society is a servant to the individual's needs?" Or, "Is society of primal significance in the conditioning of the individual and determines how the individual will "give back" to society? Therefore, the social structures are most important to protect for the individual's development?" I tend to believe that both are necessary, of course, but when social structures do not serve the individual in their innatedness, then it can lead to all kinds of dysfuntion. But, what is innate? How does the mind process the brain's stimuli?

I think the debate is held on the basis of a "Structuralist" or a "Functionalist" understanding of social structures or/and individuals.

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