Re: Is language necessary for preservation of culture?

Noel Dickover (
Thu, 9 Jan 1997 09:44:37 -0500

In article <>, says...
> Noel Dickover wrote:
> >While one might argue that the adults who moved from the "homeland"
> >might still act very similar in their new surroundings, their kids will
> >adopt very different patterns of interaction.
> Yes, but this presents a question concerning time. Exactly how many
> generations are required to pass before any particular tradition is lost?
> Some traditions, although they may be abhorred by the more recent
> generations, may still be adhered to regardless of their being "outdated"
> or "old-world" in nature.


I don't think the saving of a particular tradition is in any way the same
as retaining a culture. A culture is made up of much more than many
traditions. Our culture, to a large extent, shapes the way we see the
world. I think the culture, in its fullest sense, is lost in the second
generation. The second generation is enculturated much differently than
their parents were. The best the parents can hope for, if they are
looking to "retain" some semblance of "their" culture, is as I stated
earlier, almost a creole culture, meaning a new way of life (albeit on a
smaller scale) is created based on the children melding the two cultures

> Furthermore, what do you think about immigrants' adherence to values
> which have since been forgotten in their county of origin? For instance,
> many of the young Greek immigrants in the 1960's have retained certain
> values which are not seen in Greece today. In many ways, the people who
> moved here decades ago have held on to customs and traditions to a much
> higher degree than their countrymen abroad, and have consequently become
> more "old-world".

This points to the idea that cultures are not static, but are continually
changing. This is an interesting point. What traditions really make up
Greek culture. Its people who have left are obviously not affected by
changes in modern Greek culture. One wonders what to make of these
traditions you speak of. In terms of their parents wanting to "retain"
Greek culture, what does this say if modern Greek culture did not retain
them? I also wonder in passing how those traditions have been modified
to fit the new surroundings and way of life. Are they indeed old
traditions, or have they been modified over time as they were in modern
Greece (although in a different direction)?


Noel Dickover