Thursday, January 10, 2013

A quote from the coiner of "languaculture"

"First, culture becomes visible only when an outsider encounters it, and what becomes visible depends on the LC1 of the outsider. There could be a big difference; there could be a little difference; and the translation would vary accordingly. Second, culture is relational. It is the property of no one and exists only as a translation enabler between LC1 and LC2, its content, again, being a function of which LC1 and LC2 define the boundary." (Michael Agar in International Journal of Qualitative Methods 5 (2) June 2006).

I love this quote. I first came across the idea in the Wikipedia article on "languaculture": "According to Agar, culture is a ... translation between source languaculture and target languaculture. Like a translation, it makes no sense to talk about the culture of X without saying the culture of X for Y..." I imagine if I look back, I'll find the same idea in Agar's book Language Shock. 

In our terms, Agar is saying that a "culture" is always and only a "they story"! Think that through. Get it? (Our GPA concept of "they stories" derives from the Vygotskyan concept of mediation, which I wish Agar had thought about. )

It's not a culture to be learned, but a story to be lived.