https://www.duolingo.com/DuncanChauffe

While you study a language. Study their history/culture

It's often enough that you come to see people that study a language, but they only know some things or nothing about the history/culture. While it's a great thing to learn another language, it's gets even better to know about them. Learning a language opens new doors but it's up to you to decide whether or not you want to talk through the window.

What are your thoughts/experiences with this?

May 13, 2016

22 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/bufferz91

Yes for example, you can't speak Polish until you know their culture. Believe me getting a dressing down from a ticket clerk at the train station for simple saying dzięki (thanks) instead of Dziękuję Pani (thank you mrs) taught me to use formalities In addition to this i on my last visit i nearly had a cold dinner because the guest must break the ice and eat first :')

May 13, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/Zzzzz...

Yes, the level of formality varies in different situations in different cultures. I am Finnish and would introduce my parents to my friends by their first name. I know this would be considered rude in most European countries.

May 13, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/DuncanChauffe

haha that's a good reminder of what to say and do!

May 13, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/ThomasGabr13

Duolingo could add a tidbit of history to every question.

May 13, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/DuncanChauffe

Agreed. Seeing some history related translation questions would be very nice to see.

May 13, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/Theron126

We have history in the Russian tree - an entire skill devoted to it. Sentences such as "this evil knight has killed the king!", "the dragon ate the warrior"...

Just one more reason why everyone should learn Russian.

May 13, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/MagicalMaya13

Very good advice. It's important to learn history in the first place, and world history is good. Sometimes events can have effects on a language. For example, Frauline is a German word that means "miss" or "little lady". But after the women's rights event in Germany, Frauline became an insult to a woman, saying that you don't approve women's rights or that men were better than women. I'm pretty sure that's the same today. Correct any information if I'm wrong. I learned this a few years ago, and I might haven't gotten a few details wrong. :)

May 13, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/DuncanChauffe

It's definitely a good idea to study history/world history! I get very surprised whenever i talk to a person from another culture and they are talking about historical things that i should know.

May 13, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/ChrstphDlk

HI :-) Like your passion for German. First of all it is not an insult.(Atleast it would be a very lame one haha) Well yea one shouldn't use Frauline (Dt. Fräulein) the same as woman but this event actually "stole" us this word. You study french too so you might know there is a very similar one in french which is perfectly fine to use.

It's colloquially. Also it is an old word which we mostly tend to use in a playful/ironically way. The cool thing about Fräulein is that it is threatening but in a humorous way to adress a woman(except waitresses but not common to use that in restaurants anymore). So it's funny to use among friends haha

May 13, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/adamyoung97

Since starting to learn Amharic, I've looked extensively into Ethiopia's culture and history. The country is very fascinating, and while I don't agree with all aspects of the culture, I'd still like to visit the country.

አማርኛ መማር ከጀመርኩ ጀምሮ የኢትዮጵያ ባህልና ታሪክ በሰፊው ተመልክቻለሁ። ሀገሯ በጣም የሚስብ ናት እና ከባህሉ ክፍል ሁሉ ጋር የማልስማማ ሲሆን ሀገሯን መጎብኘት እፈልጋለሁ።

May 13, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/WildSage

Does watching the Eurovision Song Contest count?

I really enjoy learning about other cultures, even ones whose languages I will likely never study. I tend to read a lot or look for films. I took an online course on Scandinavian Film and Television. One of the sections of that class was on documentaries so now I'm looking for those.

I would love it the Bonus Skills offered Culture and History or if these could be included into the trees more.

May 13, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/FrankKool

I wouldn't say that knowing history and/or culture is necessary to speak a language. After all, you can be fluent in Spanish without knowing a single thing about the Hispanic countries.

However, in order to use the language to connect with people from those countries, I think you do need to understand the (un)written social rules of their respective societies.

May 13, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/Theron126

It's certainly possible to speak a language and generally make yourself understood, however I question whether one can be truly fluent without somewhat understanding the culture/history of the country/ies in question, because so often that is very closely tied to the language and the way the language is used. Or alternately, you could say that in the process of becoming fluent in a language you will inevitably learn something about the culture.

May 13, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/FrankKool

I fully agree with your final thought: it is inevitable to learn something about a culture when you learn a language.

May 14, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/AnEnglishTeacher

That's some good advice, Duncan.

May 13, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/DuncanChauffe

Thank you!

May 13, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/JessePaedia

Sometimes it's the reverse, I'm learning French because of my French Revolution history studies. I've found knowing some French has helped me understand the terminology better. For example, I didn't before I started learning French that 'lit de justice' means 'bed of justice'.

May 13, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/brittalexiswm

I agree! I have studied many things about Germany and Sweden, and I follow lots of youtubers from both countries, even ones who speak English on their channels, because I am interested in the culture, especially Germany. I feel it is important, because knowing the formal language will only get you so far- natives use a lot of slang, and when you go to a different country you want to be comfortable. Plus, knowing the history of the country, I feel, always opens your mind to the rest of the world.

May 13, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/BahasaInglish

Completely agree that it is a great thing to learn about cultures, but I don't think that it should be included in duolingo. Maybe it would be possible for languages like Welsh or Ukrainian, but when learning the massive languages such as English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Russian etc. so many different countries and cultures are covered by the same language. For example, in English, would they teach about the culture of the USA, or the UK, or Australia?

May 13, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/PolyglotLucas

Yes, I am a native Spanish speaker, and this is the third most spoken language in the world (560 millions) and you can find many different types of accents and cultures within this language. The Spanish we speak here in Spain is very different from what you can find in countries like Argentina or Chile.

May 14, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/jkhalfan

You could ask for directions but you might not be able to speak with people about their intimate thoughts. Some languages are too entwined with the cultures that created them. Swahili doesn't make sense until you live the Swahili culture. There's a lot embedded in the language or missing from the language that can only be explained by the culture. Double meanings that can only be picked up on by knowing culture and especially spiritualities and superstitions. Depends. Does the language learner want to appropriate a language or assimilate into a new culture? These are different skill sets. One takes far more time and effort than the other.

May 22, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/AnEnglishTeacher

Very interesting. Thanks for your thoughts.

May 22, 2016
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