Re: Is language necessary for preservation of culture?

Robert Snower (
Mon, 13 Jan 1997 17:29:49 GMT

Shannon Adams <> wrote:

>> The Japanese macaques on Koshima Island have preserved their cultural prac-
>> tices of washing sweet potatoes and placer mining wheat for more than 40
>> years despite the lack (as far as anyone knows) of any language whatsoever.

>I believe culture is more accurately identified as a *worldview*. This
>is influences by local ecology, social structure, political structure,
>religious/ritual ideologies, etc. *CULTURE IS NOT SIMPLY SHARED
>BEHAVIOR* While I'm open to the idea that animals have a *world view*
>of some sort I don't believe this *worldview* is adequately displayed
>threw two food preparation practices. (Language doesn't have to be
>vocal, by the way.)


*CULTURE IS NOT SIMPLY SHARED BEHAVIOR* : no disagreement here. We
all breathe. Shared behavior. Certainly not a component of our
culture. We all agree that a shared item of biological structure is
not a part of a culture, and also that a shared item of biologically
based behavior is not necessarily a component of the culture. I would
go further, and I am sure you would, and say that a shared learned
item of behavior is not necessarily an item of the culture. But
"worldview" perhaps exalts it a little too much. There is a real
problem is defining the cultural feature. I think the safest, but not
necessarily completely accurate, approach is to say the shared feature
must be used toward group identification. rs