Language in Diversity


A.  Culture and Literature

      People live together in the world to share and communicate each other. As a human being we cannot live alone. The togetherness of live in the society requires the convention what have to belief and to do called culture. We may have so many definitions towards this word. But we should agree that culture is the result from the effort or creativity of human being such as belief, art, habit, and soon.

Literature represents a language or a people: culture and tradition. But, literature is more important than just a historical or cultural artifact. Literature introduces us to new worlds of experience. We learn about books and literature; we enjoy the comedies and the tragedies of poems, stories, and plays; and we may even grow and evolve through our literary journey with books.

Ultimately, we may discover meaning in literature by looking at what the author says and how he/she says it. We may interpret the author’s message. In academic circles, this decoding of the text is often carried out through the use of literary theory, using a mythological, sociological, psychological, historical, or other approach.

B.  Problem Discussion

1.  What is a culture?

2.  What is the characteristic of culture?

3.  What is a Cultural Convention?

4.  What is the Function of Culture?

5.  What is the Definition of Literature?

6.  What is the Element of Literature?

7.  What is the Function of Literature?

8.  What is Literary Convention?


A.   Cultural Convention

1.    Definition of Culture

Culture has been defined in many ways – from a pattern of perceptions that influence communication to a site of contestation and conflict. Because there are many acceptable definitions of culture ,and because it is a complex concept , it is important to reflect on the centrality of culture in our own interactions.There are some definitions of this term:

a.  Culture consists of patterns, explicit and implicit, of and for behavior acquired and transmitted by symbols, constituting the distinctive achievements of human groups, including their embodiments in artifacts; the essential core of culture consists of traditional (i.e. historically derived and selected) ideas and especially their attached values; culture systems may, on the one hand, be considered as products of action, and on the other as conditioning elements of further action.[1]

b.  Most social scientists today view culture as consisting primarily of the symbolic, ideational, and intangible aspects of human societies. The essence of a culture is not its artifacts, tools, or other tangible cultural elements but how the members of the group interpret, use, and perceive them. It is the values, symbols, interpretations, and perspectives that distinguish one people from another in modernized societies; it is not material objects and other tangible aspects of human societies. People within a culture usually interpret the meaning of symbols, artifacts, and behaviors in the same or in similar ways.[2]

c.   A culture is a configuration of learned behaviors and results of behavior whose component elements are shared and transmitted by the members of a particular society.[3]

d.  Culture is the material and nonmaterial attributes that the members of an organization or a society have created and use to carry out the tasks necessary to collective life.[4]

e.  Culture is the way of life, especially the general customs and beliefs of a particular group of people at a particular time.[5]

f.    Culture is the arts and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement regarded collectively, or the customs, institutions, and achievements of a particular nation, people, or group.[6]

2.    The Characteristic of Culture

a.   Culture is social

Culture does not exist in isolation. It is a product of society. It develops through social interaction. No man can acquire culture without association with others. Man becomes a man only among men.

b.    Culture is shared

Culture is not something that an individual alone can possess. Culture in sociological sense is shared. For example, customs, traditions, beliefs, ideas, values, morale etc. are all shared by people of a group or society.

c.    Culture is learnt

Culture is not inborn. It is learnt. Culture is often called “learned ways of behaviour”. Unlearned behaviour is not culture. But shaking hands, saying thanks’ or ‘namaskar’, dressing etc. are cultural behaviour.

d.    Culture is continuous and cumulative:

Culture exists as a continuous process. In its historical growth it tends to become cumulative. Sociologist Linton called culture ‘the social heritage’ of man. It becomes difficult for us to imagine what society would be like without culture.

e.    Culture varies from society to society

Every society has a culture of its own. It differs from society to society. Culture of every society is unique to itself. Cultures are not uniform. Cultural elements like customs, traditions, morale, values, beliefs are not uniform everywhere. Culture varies from time to time also.

f.     Culture is dynamic

No culture ever remains constant or changeless. It is subject to slow but constant change. Culture is responsive to the changing conditions of the physical world. Hence culture is dynamic.[7]

3.    The Function of Culture

Culture has been fulfilling a number of functions which may be divided into two: for the individual and the group

a. Importance to the individual:

(1) Culture distinguishes man from animal.

(2) Culture provides solution for complicated situations.

(3) Culture provides traditional interpretation to certain situations.

b. Importance for the group:

(1) Culture keeps social relationship intact.

(2) Culture has given a new vision to the individual.

(3)Culture creates new needs.

4.    Definition of Convention

Convention is a noun means;

a.    A formal meeting of members, representatives, or delegates

b.    An agreement between states, especially one less formal than a treaty[8]

c.    The most widely accepted or established view of what is thought to be proper behaviour, good taste

d.    General agreement on or acceptance of certain practices or attitudes

e.    An accepted rule[9]

B.   What is Cultural Convention?

Cultural convention can be defined as data or data formats that are specific to a language, local dialect, or geographic location. Examples are currency symbols, date formats, calendars, numeric separators, and sort orders.[10]

C.   The Legal Term of Cultural Convention

The European Cultural Convention is an international treaty opened for signature by the Council of Europe in Paris on 19 December 1954. Its signature is one of the conditions for becoming a participating state in theBologna Process and its European Higher Education Area (EHEA). The term convention is used as a synonym for an international legal treaty.

Cultural Convention is an Interscholastic Association of Southeast Asian Schools (IASAS)event, in which delegates from all six  IASAS schools meet at one designated location in order to celebrate their art.Cultural Convention divides into two: “Art and Music” to which a convention is held in one school, and “Dance, Drama, Technological Theater, and Debate” which meet in another. The music delegation includes choir, strings, band, and pianists. In the past few years, students who specialize in thetechnological side of theater also go to the convention.Each delegate dealing with debate can receive medals for outstanding speeches. The event usually takes place in the first week of March, and is about four days long.

D.   Literary Convention

1.    Definition of Literature

Most attempted definitions of literature are broad and vague, and it inevitably changes over time.  In fact, the only thing that is certain about defining literature is that the definition will change. Concepts of what is literature change over time as well. Generally, most people have their own ideas of what literature is. When enrolling in a literary course at university, people expect that everything on the reading list will be “literature”.

Etymologically, literature has to do with letters, the written as opposed to the spoken word, though not everything that is written down is literature. There is also general agreement that literature foregrounds language, and uses it in artistic ways.  Terry Eagleton goes some way towards a definition of literature and its relationship to language: “Literature transforms and intensifies ordinary language, deviates systematically from everyday speech”.  Just as architecture is the art form that arises out of the human ability to create buildings, literature is the art form that arises out of the human ability to create language.[11]

Literature is a term used to describe written or spoken material. Broadly speaking, “literature” is used to describe anything from creative writing to more technical or scientific works, but the term is most commonly used to refer to works of the creative imagination, including works of poetry, drama, fiction, and nonfiction. Whatever critical paradigm we use to discuss and analyze literature, there is still an artistic quality to the works. Literature is important to us because it speaks to us, it is universal, and it affects us.[12]

The common definition of literature, particularly for university courses is that it covers the major genres of poetry, drama, and novel/fiction.  The term also implies literary quality and distinction.[13]

2.    The Element of Literature

Generally it refers to the things that make up a work of literature, its component parts, as elements. This list contains such things as:

a.  Plot

Because these stories are passed along by word of mouth, the plot elements are simple but unchanging. In all fairy tales, good and beauty always win out over evil and ugliness. As in the case of Snow White, the Evil Step Mother is said to be beautiful on the outside but the events of the story tell us she is ugly on the inside. Snow White, who is beautiful inside and out, is the victor in this story.

b.  Character

As with themes, characters are simple. Stars of traditional literature are not nuanced characters with complicated personalities. Instead, they are more likely one-dimensional, either good or evil — polar opposites so choices between them are clear to children and grown-ups alike. With simple opposites, listeners and readers should be able to relate to a character and hope to emulate a good character.

c.   Setting

Traditional literature is set in an ambiguous or indeterminate time and place. Because the themes and characters of these stories should have universal appeal, the setting is left vague in order to make it easier to for people to relate. Using a specific setting could potentially alienate a reader.

d.  Theme

      Oral stories have simple themes, like good vs. evil, weak vs. strong, or beauty vs. ugliness. The polarization of opposites serves to highlight each and draw attention to their qualities. These opposite characteristics are often pitted against each other in a battle for power, respect or love. The theme will guide the plot elements of the story.[14]

3.    The Function of Literature

                   The main functions of literature are to entertain and give pleasure to the reader, and to heighten his awareness of certain aspects of life. Besides giving pleasure or entertaining or moving the readers, literature is supposed to have other functions as well. One important function is to heighten the awareness of the reader to certain aspects of life.[15]

4.    What is Literary Convention?

Literary convention is a customary feature of a literary work, such as the use of a chorus in Greek tragedy, the inclusion of an explicit moral in a fable, or the use of a particular rhyme scheme in a villanelle. Literary conventions are defining features of particular literary genres, such as novel, short story, ballad, sonnet, and play.[16]

Literary convention can also defined as a practice or device which is accepted as a necessary, useful, or given feature of a genre, e.g., the proscenium stage (the “picture-frame” stage of most theaters), a soliloquy, the epithet or boast in the epic. Literary conventions are defining features of particular literary genres, such as novel, short story, ballad, sonnet, anddrama.


Culture refers to the pattern of human activity and the symbols that give significance to these activities. Culture manifests itself in terms of the art, literature, costumes, customs, language, religion and religious rituals. The people and their pattern of life make up the culture of a region.A gradual change is characteristic to almost every culture. Cultures are subject to change. Culture loses some of its traits and gains new ones. It is our moral responsibility to understand our culture. There is a need to study our cultural values and ideals, which have been shaping our society. It is necessary to have respect and pride for our culture.

Literature means the production of written works having excellence of form or expression. The function of literature is to entertain, to educate, to memorialize actual or fictional events. To leave records of people,places and things and to keep the language intact. Actually we can conclude that there is a relationship between culture and literature.Literature is the form of culture. It happens in social context as the part of cultural which concern on tradition, convention, norm, genre, symbol, and myth. Literature is part of the culture created by human being in the society. Both of them are important to our life.

[1]Kroeber, A.L., & Kluckhohn, C. Culture: A critical review of concepts and definitions. (USA:Harvard University Peabody Museum of American Archeology and Ethnology, 1952). P.47

[2]Banks, J.A., Banks, & McGee, C. AMulticultural education. (Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon.1989).P. 67

[3]Linton, R. The Cultural Background of Personality.(New York: 1945) p. 32

[4], accessed on Saturday, October 20, 2012 at 11 a.m.

[5]Cambridge Advance’s Learner Dictionary, 3rded.

[6]Concise Oxford Dictionary, 9thed.

[7], accessed on Saturday October 20, 2012 at 11 a.m.

[8]Oxford Dictionary, 9thed.

[9]HoughtonMifflin. The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th ed. (USA:      Houghton Mifflin Company. 2009)

[10] written by Jean S. and accessed on Friday October, 19th 2012 at 9 p.m.

[11] Terry Eagleton.  Literary Theory: An Introduction.  (Oxford: Blackwell Publishers Inc., 1996). P. 37

[12], accessed on Saturday,              October 20, 2012 at 7 a.m.

[13]Paul Hernadi.  What is Literature? (Bloomington & London, Indiana University Press, 1978). P. 66

[14], accessed on Saturday, October 20, 2012 at 9 a.m.

[15], accessed on Saturday, October 20, 2012 at 8 a.m.

[16], accessed on Monday, October 21, 2012 at 7 a.m.


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