The relationship between language and culture is one of many topics or issues discussed in Sociolinguistics. According to Trudgill (1974) in Sumarsono (2009) Sociolinguistics is defined as the study of a language as a part of culture and society. From the definition above, it is emphasized that language is a part of culture and cannot separated each other. Criper and Widowson (1975) in Sumarsono (2009) stated that Sociolinguistics is the study of language in operation. Its purpose is to show how the convention of language use relates to other aspect s of culture. In other words, in Sociolinguistics, we study language, culture and the relationship between them.
There are a lot of theories concerned with language and culture. Some theories stated that language is a part of culture. Others said that language and culture are two different things that have a much closed relation. In one hand, it is claimed that language is much more influenced by culture. As a result, all things included in culture can be manifested in language. In the other hand, it is also stated that language much influenced the culture and the way of thought of the society in which the language is used. (Khair and Agustina, 2010, p. 162 )
In this paper, the writer will discuss the nature of relationship between language and culture based on the existed theories and it will focus on `Whorfian Hypothesis` and the theories which are opposite to it. Besides, the writer will also discuss the various ways in which language and culture have been said to be related. They are kinship system, taxonomies, color terminology, and taboo and euphemism.
Before the writer much further talks about the relationship between language and culture, to give clear concept, it is better for us to define what language and what culture are. Traditionally, language has been viewed as a vehicle of thought, a system of expression that a person mediates the transfer of thought from one person to another. (Finegan, Besiner, Blair, and Collins, 1992. p.3) Linguistically, language is defined as an arbitrary vocal system used by human beings to communicate with one another.( 1992. p. 9) Awhile, culture, in this context, is defined in the sense of whatever a person must know in order to function in a particular society, not in the sense of `high culture` like the appreciation of music, literature, the arts, etc. Goodenough ( 1957, p. 167) gives the definition of culture as ` a society`s culture consists of whatever it is one has to know or believe in order to operate in a manner acceptable to its member, and to do so in any role that they accept for any one of themselves.` In other words, culture is the `knowhow` that a person must possess to get through the task of daily living. (Wardhaugh, 1998, p. 215)

2. The Whorfian Hypothesis
One of the existed theories concerning the relationship between language and culture was founded by Edward Sapir and his student Benjamin Lee Whorf. This theory is known as Sapir-Whorf hypothesis. Some sociolinguists tend to use the term `Whorfian hypothesis` because the claim seems to be much more concerned with Whorf than it does to Sapir. Based on this hypothesis, the structure of a native language determines the way in which speakers of that language view the world. The way of thought of society is really determined by the language used.(Wardhaugh, 216) Sapir in his book `Language` (1929, p. 207) as quoted by Wardhaugh stated that human beings do not live in the objective world alone, nor alone in the world of social activity as ordinarily understood, but are very much at the mercy of the particular language which has become the medium of expression for their society. (p. 216) This idea was extended and strengthened by his student Benjamin Lee Whorf. Whorf stated that the background linguistics system called `grammar` of each language is not merely a reproducing instrument for voicing ideas but rather is itself the shaper of ideas, the program and guide for the individual`s mental activity, for his analysis of impression, for his synthesis for his mental stock in trade. Formulation of ideas is not an independent process, strictly rational in the old sense, but is part of a particular grammar, and differs from slightly to greatly, between different grammar. (Carroll, 1956, pp. 212)
According to Whorf, different speakers will experience the world differently insofar as the language they speak differ structurally, and most of us are not aware of all the subtleties of structural differences among language can avoid seeing the world as it is rather than as it is presented through the screen of the language.(Wardhaugh, p. 217) This case can be exemplified by Javanese words `jaran` for `horse` and `belo` for `the kid of horse` known by Javanese children. These two words will influence their view when they learn Indonesian language. They will ask in his mind the word for `belo` in Indonesian. Awhile Indonesian has no word for it. (Sumarsono, p.59) Other example is that the linguistic structure of Hopi is different from that of English, German, French called as Standard Average European (SAE). Hopi grammatical categories provide a `process` orientation toward the world, whereas the categories in SAE are a fixed orientation toward time and space so that they not only `objectify` reality in certain ways but even distinguish between things that must be counted, e.g., trees, hills, waves, and sparks, and those that need not to be counted, e.g., water, fire, and courage.In SAE events occur, have occurred, or will occur, in a definite time, i.e., present, past, or future; to speaker of Hopi, an event can be warranted to haved occurred, or to be occurring, or to be expected to occur. From these linguistic structure phenomena, Whorf concluded that these differences lead speakers of Hopi and SAE to view the world differently. (Wardhaugh, p. 219)
Concerning with the claims made in Whorf hypothesis, Fishman (1972) claims that `if speakers of one language have certain words to describe things and speakers of another language lack of similar words, the speakers of the first language will find it easier to talk about those things` We can see this case on using the vocabularies of certain occasion like in profession; for example, physicians talk easily about medical phenomena, more easily than other profession like technical engineers, because physicians have the vocabulary to do so. Moreover, It is claimed that if one language makes distinctions that another language does not make, then those who use the first language will more readily perceive the differences in their environment which such linguistics distinctions draw attention to. .(Wardhaugh, p. 217)
There ia another opinion that language and culture are two different things and they have close relationship. Silzer (1990) stated language and culture are like twins. What is in culture will be seen in language and vice versa. For example, In English and other European languages that are not familiar with eating rice, rice is the only one word for all kinds of rice. But in Indonesian, there are various kinds of words referring to rice, that is, padi, gabah, beras, and nasi. English societies know the difference of the four different words, but they don`t need to differ them. On the contrary, English societies are familiar with horse racing. They have `horse`, `colt`, `stallion`, `pony`, and `mare` for the word`horse`. But in Indonesian, there is only one word for `horse` because they feel they don`t need to differenciate it although they know the difference. (Chaer and Agustina, p. 168)
In contrast to Whorfian hypothesis, an anthropologist, Koentharaningrat, (1990) said that culture influences language.In this case, the relation can be as mainsystem and subsystem. Culture is considered as the main system and language as the subsystem. For example, if we praise someone with `Bajumu bagus sekali`, `Wah, rumah saudara besar sekali`, someone whom we praise seems to be shy and directly says``Ah, itu Cuma baju murahan, kok`, `beginilah namanya rumah di kampung`. In English, in contrast, someone will say `thank you` if s/he gets a kind of praise. (Chaer and Agustina, p. 170) This condition shows that the culture of English and Indonesian is different. So, the difference will be seen in the use of the language itself.
3. Kinship System
One thing that can show the way in which people use language in daily living and show the relation between language and culture is in the case of kinship system. Kinship system is a universal feature of language because it is so important in social organization. Some systems are much richer than others, but all systems make use of such factors as sex, age, generation, blood, and marriage. Different kinship system will carry idea on how such people ought to call and behave towards others in the society that uses that system. This can be shown through the vocabularies used in different language. For example,the word ` family` in English has the same meaning as `keluarga` in Indonesian. For English, the word` family` includes husband, wife, and children. In contrast, in Indonesian the word `keluarga` includes more than husband, wife, and children. It rather includes grandparents, uncle, aunt, cousin, niece, nephew and so on.(Sumarsono, 2009, p. 62)
It is important to remember that when a term like father, brother, or older brother is used in a kinship system that it carries with it ideas about how such people ought to behave towards others in the society that uses that system. Fathers,brothers, and older brothers are assumed to have certain rights and duties. In practice, of course, they may behave otherwise. It is the kinship system which determines who is called what; it is not the behavior of individuals which leads them to be called this or that.(Wardhaugh, p. 226)
According to Sumarsono, there are two important terms that can be differenciated in this context. The first term is called `term of reference` This term refers to the words of kinship system, i.e. brother, sister, father, uncle, cousin etc in English. In Sasak, there are `inak`, `amak`, `papuk`, `balok`, `anak`. The second term called `term of address` refers to how we call or address the member of the family like `bi` for Indonesian for `aunt`, `pakl$$ek` for `older uncle from father or mother in Javanese, `amak kake`, `inak kake`, `saik` in Sasak. (p.63)
4. Folk Taxonomy
According to Berlin (1992) in Wardhaugh, folk taxonomy is a way of classifying a certain part of reality so that it makes some kinds of sense to those who have to deal with it. Typically, such taxonomies involve matters like naturally occurring flora and fauna in the environment, but they may also others matters too. One the best-known studies of a folk taxonomy is Frake’s account (1961) of the terms that the Subanun of Mindanao in the southern Philippines use to explain disease of the skin. Effective treatment of any disease depends on proper diagnosis, but that depends on recognizing the symptoms for what they are. (Wardhaugh, 1998, 227)
Diagnosis is the process of finding the appropriate name for a set of symptoms. Once that name is found, treatment can follow. However, we can see that the success of that treatment depends critically not only on its therapeutic value but on the validity of the system of classification for diseases. That system is rather a “folk” one, not a scientific one.
According to Berlin (1992) in Mifflin Folk taxonomies have hierarchical levels similar to formal biological classifications of kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus and species (Berlin, 1992). In folk taxonomy, the common levels are life from, generic, specific and varietal.
4.1. Life form
A high level category of plants or animals that share some general shape or characteristic of their morphology. Examples: tree, vine, bush, fish, snake, bird, wug, or mammal.
4.2. Generic
The most common, basic level. Examples are dog, oak, grass, rice, ant. Folk generally often do not correspond to scientific genera but may correspond to Linnaean species or families. For instance, “dog” is a folk genus, but “grass” is a Linnaean species folk genus, and a Linnaean family (actually a little less, since people generally do not recognize maize, etc. as grasses); “rice” is a folk genus, but two Linnaean; species and “ant” is a folk genus, but a Linnaean family, formicidae.
4.3. Specific
In some languages such as Spanish, Bahasa (spoken in Indonesia and Malaysia), the generic name comes first, as in a Linnaean name. In other languages such as English, it is the other way around. The specific name tends to be a pneumonic device, e.g., color, shape, utility, etc. that makes the name easy to remember.
4.4 Varietal
Common in crops such as the potato. Examples are papa imilla, papa imilla negra, and papa imilla blanca.
Farmer's Classification of Leaf Feeding Insects

Figure 1. Farmers’ classification of leaf feeding insects in Leyte, Philippines.

Carolus Linnaeus, an 18th-century Swedish botanist, devised the system of binomial nomenclature used for naming species. In this system, each species is given a two-part Latin name, formed by appending a specific epithet to the genus name. By convention, the genus name is capitalized, and both the genus name and specific epithet are italicized, for Canis familiaris or simply C. familiaris. Modern taxonomy is currently in flux, and certain aspects of classification are being refined. This table shows one traditional classification of five species of life out of the estimated five million species of the world. This table shows one traditional classification of five species of life out of the estimated five million species of the world.
Common Name Kingdom Phylum* Class Order Family Genus Species
DomesticatedDog Animalia(animals) Chordata Mammalia Carnivora Canidae Canis C. familiaris
Sugar Maple Plantae(plants) Magnoliophyta Rosidae Sapindales Aceraceae Acer A. saccharum
Bread Mold Fungi(fungi) Zygomycota Zygomycetes Mucoralis Mucoraceae Rhizopus R. stolonifer
TuberculosisBacterium Prokaryotae(bacteria) Firmicutes Actinobacteria Actinomycetales Mycobacteriaceae Mycobacterium M. tuberculosis
Pond Alga Protista(algae,diatoms) Chlorophyta Euconjugatae Zygnematalis Zygnemataceae Spirogyra S. crassa

In Sasak language is also found the folk taxonomy. For example the kinds of “House”, there are ‘Bale Balaq’, ‘Bale Pager’, ‘Bale Batu’, ‘Bale Betingkat’. Then, the kind of disease of Sasak language. Based on where the the diseases is felt. For example, ‘Sakit kaki’, ‘sakit jejengku’, ‘sakit tian’, ‘sakit angen’, ‘sakit dade’, ‘sakit belong’, and ‘sakit otak’.
5. Color Terminology
Color terminology has also been used to explore the relationship between different language and culture. Sometimes we cannot directly translate color words from one language to another without introducing subtle changes in meaning, e.g., English `brown` and French `brun`.
All languages make use of basic color term. A basic color term must be a single word, e.g., blue or yellow, not some combination of words, e.g.,light blue or pole yellow.
According to Berlin and Kay (1969) in Wardaugh, an analysis of the basic color terms found in a wide variety of languages reveals certain very interesting patterns. If a language has only two terms, they are for equivalents to black and white (or dark and light). If a third is added, it is red. The fourth and fifth terms will be yellow and green, but the other may be reserved. The sixth and seventh terms are blue and brown. Finally, as in English, come terms like grey, pink, orange, and purple, but not in any particular order. In this view there are only eleven basic color terms. All other terms for colors are combinations like greyish-brown, variation like scarlet, modifications like fire-engine red, and finally the kinds of designations favored by paint and cosmetic manufacturers. Wardaugh, 1998. Pp. 230)
Two points about color terminology seem particularly interesting. The color spectrum is an objective fact: it is “out there”, waiting to be dealt with cognitively. Apparently, human cognition is so alike everywhere that every one approaches the spectrum in the same way. Moreover, as cultural and technological change occur, it becomes more and more necessary for people to differentiate within the color spectrum. Instead of picking bits and pieces of spectrum at random as it were and naming them, people, no matter what languages they speak, progressively sub-devide the whole spectrum in a systematic way. The second points are that, if speakers of any language are asked to identify the parts of the spectrum, they find one system of such identification much easier to manipulate than another. They find it difficult to draw a line to separate that part of the spectrum they would call yellow from that part they would call orange, or similarly to separate blue from green. That is, assigning precise easy task for individuals nor one on which groups of individuals achieve a remarkable consensus. However, they do find it easy and they do reach a better consensus, if they are required to indicate some parts of the spectrum they would call typically orange, typically blue, or typically green. That is, they have consistent and uniform ideas about “typical” colors. Speakers of different languages exhibit such a behaviour always provided that the appropriate color terms are in their languages.(Wardaugh, 231)
Color terminology also found in sasak terminology, for example the term “red” is means “abang” (in ngeno-ngene dialect) and “beaq” (in other four dialects). This color of “abang” can be “abang odak” , “abang toak”, “abang daraq”, and “lempok lomak”.
6. Prototype Theory
Prototype theory is also one easier account of which leads how people learn to use language, particularly linguistics concept. Hudson (1996, pp.75-8) believes that protype theory has much to offer sociolinguistics. According to him, prototype theory may even be applied to the social situation in which speech occurs. He suggests that, when we hear a new linguistic item, we associate with it that typically seems to use it and what, apparently, is the typical occasion of its use. Moreover, we need very few instances-even just a single one- to be able to do this. Prototype theory, then, offers us a possible way of looking not only at how concepts may be formed, for example, at the cognitive dimensions of linguistic behavior, but also at how we achieve our social competence in the use of language.(Wardhaugh, 1998, pp.232-233)
Rosch (1976) in Wardhaugh (1998) has proposed an alternative to the view that concept are composed from sets of features which define instances of a concept necessarily and sufficiently. He proposes that concepts are best viewed as prototype. For example, a bird is not best defined by reference to a set of features that refer to such matters as wings, warm bloodedness, and egg laying characteristics, but rather by reference to typical instances. Thus, a `prototypical bird` is something more like a robin than it is likea toucan, penguin, ostrich, or even eagle.(Wardhaugh,232)
Most experiments has shown that people do classify quite consistently objects of various kinds based on what they regard as being typical instance. For example, (1) furniture; a chair is a typical term of furniture, an ashtray is not, (2) fruit; apples and plums are typical term of fruit, coconuts and olives are not, and (3) clothing; coats and trousers are typical term of clothing, bracelets and purses are not ( Clark and Clark , 1977 in Wardhaugh, p. 232)
7. Taboo and Euphemism
In one sense, language is used to express cultural meaning. But in other sense, it is used to avoid saying certain things and express them in other expression. Certain things are not said, not because they cannot be, but because people don`t talk about those things, or if those things are talked about, they are talked about in very roundabout ways. In the first case we have instances of linguistic taboo; in the second we have the employment of euphemism so as to avoid mentioning certain matters directly. (Wardhaugh, p.234)
A taboo is a strong social prohibition (or ban) relating to any area of human activity or social custom that is sacred and forbidden based on moral judgement and sometimes even religious beliefs. Breaking the taboo is usually considered objectionable or abhorrent by society. The term comes from the Tongan language, and appears in many Polynesian cultures. In those cultures, a tabu (or tapu or kapu) often has specific religious associations. When an activity or custom is a taboo, it is forbidden and interdictions are implemented concerning it, such as the ground set apart as a sanctuary for criminals. Some taboo activities or customs are prohibited under law and transgressions may lead to severe penalties. Other taboos result in embarrassment, shame, and rudeness. Although critics and/or dissenters may oppose taboos, they are put into place to avoid disrespect to any given authority, be it legal, moral and/or religious.
Common etymology traces taboo to the Tongan word tapu or the Fijian word tabu] meaning "under prohibition", "not allowed", or "forbidden". In its current use in Tonga, the word tapu also means "sacred" or "holy", often in the sense of being restricted or protected by custom or law. In the main island of the Kingdom of Tonga, where the greater portion of the population reside within the capital Nuku'alofa, the word is often appended to the end of "Tonga", making the word "Tongatapu", where local use it as "Sacred South" rather than "forbidden south".
Taboos can include dietary restrictions (halal and kosher diets, religious vegetarianism, and the prohibition of cannibalism), restrictions on sexual activities and relationships (sex outside of marriage, adultery, intermarriage, miscegenation, homosexuality, incest, animal-human sex, adult-child sex, sex with the dead), restrictions of bodily functions (burping, flatulence, restrictions on the use of psychoactive drugs, restrictions on state of genitalia such as circumcision or sex reassignment), exposure of body parts (ankles in the Victorian British Empire, women's hair in parts of the Middle East, nudity in the US), and restrictions on the use of offensive language.
No taboo is known to be universal, but some (such as the cannibalism, exposing of intimate parts, intentional homicide, and incest taboos) occur in the majority of societies. Taboos may serve many functions, and often remain in effect after the original reason behind them has expired. Some have argued that taboos therefore reveal the history of societies when other records are lacking.
In regard to linguistic taboo, there has been a considerable change since the late twentieth century. The decline may have been more increasing in the use of euphemistic language. Euphemistic words and expressions allow us to talk about unpleasant things and disguise or neutralize the unpleasentness, e.g. the subject os sickness, death, unemployment, and criminality. They also allow us to give labels to unpleasant tasks and jobs in an attempt to make them sound almost attractive. Euphemism is endemic in our society: the glorification of the commonplace and the elevation of the trivial.(Wardhaugh, 235)
In conclusion, taboo and euphemism affect us all. We may not be deeply conscious of the effects, but affect us they do.We all probably have a few things we refuse to talk about and still others we do not talk about directly. We may have some words we know but never-or hardly ever- use because they are too emotional for either us or others. Awhile we may find some thought too deep for words, others we definitely take care not to express at all even though we know the words, or else we express ourselves on them very indirectly. (Wardhaugh, 236)
In Sasak the relation between language and culture can also be shown by taboo. Some taboos are based on the religious concept, some are based on custom and traditional belief, and some are based on moral judgment. There are some kinds of taboo in Sasak language based on religion concept, for example, dietary restrictions. For Sasak people, especially Muslim Sasak, it is forbidden to eat certain animals like dog, pig, and etc. Also, it is taboo to take the oath like “Bani Haram”, “Bani Pekek”, “ Bani Bedok”, and etc.
Based on traditional belief, it is taboo for Sasak People to say “ Antih aku” when the people pass through forest or big river because it is believed that if someone say “antih aku” in the forest, there will be a wild animal that waits for him, or if someone say ‘antih aku’ in the river there will be crocodile that waits for him.
Meanwhile, based on moral judgment or moral value of Sasak, it is taboo to mention directly the name of genitalia. For example “Lesek” for man and “Pepek” for woman. But these two words can be replaced by “Perabot dengan mame” and “Perabot dengan nine”. So in this case, we use euphemism to replace the word taboo as mentioned about.
8. Conclusion
1. There are some theories related to the relationship between language and culture. One theory stated that language influenced culture and the way of thought of the society in which the language is used. This theory is called Whorfian Hypothesis. Other said that language is much influenced by culture and as a part of culture. The other one stated that language and culture are two different things that have a very close relation.
2. There are various ways in which language and culture have been claimed to be closely related. They are kinship system, color terminology, taxonomies, and taboo and euphemism.


Chaer, Abdul and Agustina, Leonie. 2010. Sociolinguistics : Perkenalan Awal. Rineka Cipta. Jakarta
Finegan, Edward, Besiner, Niko, Blair, David and Collins, Peter. 1992. Language `It`s Structure and Use` .Harcourt Brace Jovanovich Group Ltd. Australia.
Mifflin,H.2000 `Taxonomy Life` taken from http://www. Answers.com/topic/Taxonomy.xzz lackyqih B/;Monday, October 3th, 09.00 PM.
Sumarsono, M.Ed, Dr, Prof. 2009. Sosiolinguistik. Pustaka Fajar, Sabda. Cileban Timur, Yogyakarta.
Wardhaugh, Ronald. 1998. An Introduction to Sociolinguistics. Third edition. Blackwell Publishers Ltd. UK

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