Adopted words in Language and cultural shifts

In tutorials for 20th Century Literature this morning, we looked at the life and poetry of Grace Nichols. She was born in British Guiana and later moved to London where she pursued a career in journalism and literature. The poems showed how hard it was for a person from another culture to adapt to a culture so different from her native one. This is a lesson we as Australians should remember when welcoming people into our own culture who have come from a war torn land as refugees.

As students of ACU, we can do our bit to help.

i have also become aware of ‘The House of Welcome’, an organisation that assists refugees and persons seeking asylum on all levels. I am going to see if I can volunteer there as part of my community service for HUMA 247.

With regards to the poetry and language of Grace Nichols; it is great to see the way she can incorporate aspects of her language and culture into her writings in England.

Of course we, who speak English as a first language, have been borrowing from languages for centuries. Most of our words have roots in other European languages such as Latin, Greek French and German. I am reminded of the English tourist in Italy who when ordering a coffee from a cafe, received the following reply from the cafe owner…

“Cappuccino? OK”

“At last!” he exclaimed, “someone who speaks English!”

Medical terminology and Botany are two areas where the Latin is used world wide. When referring to a plant, numerous plants could be called a bottlebrush for instance, but only one can be called a Melaleuca viminalis. This is the weepeing bottle brush. It is part of the major group Callistemon which derives its name from the greek… Calli (Beautiful) and Stamen (the part of the flower with the pollen).

I have listened to conversations between people of various languages. It is common when they cant find a word in their native tongue for something, to revert to the English word as a default.

Anyway, these are my thoughts after today’s tutorials.


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