Language, Culture and Communication or Linguistics with a twist
Being launched in 2014, LCC is a relatively new course, that’s why, for many people, it’s more of a mysterious degree with a long name. After I tell someone what I’m studying, I almost instantly get the questions back: “So what is that about?” OR “So how many languages do you learn there?” I therefore thought I’d be a good idea to write a few lines about my experience as a LCC student.
Firstly, the course belongs to the Department of Applied linguistics, so it’s not a language-based degree, but a linguistics one. Because it’s a small department, some lectures tend to get really interactive, which is a plus for the amount of information you remain with at the end of it. However, not being a large department means it’s very easy to keep track of the students’ attendance so we are one of the very few courses where you have to sign up an attendance sheet not only at seminars, but at lectures as well.
For me, LCC is linguistics with a twist. Imagine performing an incision on the English Language to see how it’s structured, what it contains and how all the pieces work together. That’s the linguistics module. My first encounter with it was rather bitter-sweet, as the first chapter we studied was phonetics, and, because of my predominant Eastern-European accent, I sometimes failed to understand, reproduce and analyze words in a certain manner, which would automatically get me frustrated. Taking the stance of a person whose knowledge about some languages clashed with the reality about other language created misperception in the way I initially evaluated my position both in the class, as well as outside, in my daily interactions. These issues are the reason why exists.
We cover these problems on a macro-level and realize that, on a larger scale, the coexistence of languages and, automatically, cultures in the same environment imply perceiving the world in a heterogenous perspective, which, of course, leads to miscommunication in creating conventions about how “things should be”. In a rather naive example, I think about my reaction when, after casually saying ‘Hello!’ to an English person I had just met, he answered: “Are you alright?”. “Should I answer? Should I not? Should I just smile? Why did he ask me this?”. That so simple question managed to put myself in such an uncomfortable situation. Imagine similar scenarios placed on larger social, cultural, psychological, political scenes. This is what the content of the first-year modules were concerned with. What was it in my cultural identity that didn’t align with the cultural identity of the men that asked me “Are you alright?”. Why did it create such discomfort for me? What are the differences in our languages? and so many other intriguing questions that determined me to rethink all I thought I had known about language prior to coming to university.
There is even more in the twist I was telling you about because, in order for me to understand how language and culture determine each other, I had to choose a language I wanted to study in my first year as part of one of my module – . I chose Japanese with absolute no knowledge about their language and almost no aware of their culture. I can say I went straight in and even if I took the it from scratch, it was still one of the most challenging parts of my course, but equally tough as it was satisfying. I won’t insist on it now as I want to dedicate my next post to my Japanese learning journey. Spoiler alert: in the second year I have the option to give up on the language I chose in case I don’t feel comfortable with it, but I also have the option to keep on studying it.
Therefore, what I ultimately love about my course is its versatility. I’ve looked at language use, transformation, perception, from the perspective of both the learner and the observer. Indeed, the amount of independent work requires a lot of time, but it is a good balance as I only had three contact hours per day, with Fridays off. Even thought I didn’t have exams in the first two terms, except from Japanese, there were many assignments for which I needed to dedicate a lot of time and patience. Of course, at the beginning, it would take me ages to finish an essay and I would get extremely stressed if I saw myself at a dead end at some point. (I still get stressed for that). However, every time I needed, I could reach for help form the lecturers and they would shed some light on my problems.
With that being said, I hope this is helpful in making a better idea on what Language Culture and Communication is, drawing on my subjective perspective. I can confidently say that now I can give explanations about the processes I’ve been through and how I’ve dealt with them when first coming here and I can take this examination further on societal issues to see how language ‘rules’ the way we shape our and other’s existence.