Saturday, August 2, 2008

Which came first the word, or the pratice?

I learned something interesting yesterday, This weekend is a long weekend here in Iceland and it is jokingly referred to as the national breeding weekend. According to my co-workers, it seems there is a lot of camping and outdoor festivals this weekend, and it is also the time when it is legal to have sex outside :)

so you take a situation where allot of 20-35 year old people are camping out at festivals, drinking large amounts of alcohol (it's Iceland, they drink!) and it is legal to have sex outdoors..

Statistically more baby's born in 9 months in Iceland than any other time of the year so maybe there is something to this breeding weekend :)

But that isn't tee interesting part, the Icelandic word for spouse is the same if you are just living together, or married. So in Icelandic if someone introduced as there spouse you can't assume they are married unless they have rings on.

This got me to wondering if that was the cause of the Icelandic people to live together and have kids, being a couple and having a family isn't tied to the legal sense of it as in N.A.

Then I was wondering does language follow function? Did the word come about because that is how people live. Or was society influenced by having one word for what we consider separate situations?

The Eskimos have many words for snow, because it is such a important part of there life's. So if the type of snow wasn't important to there culture would they have one word for snow?

It makes you wonder!

well I am off to Atlanta early Monday morning....


alison said...

Interesting post! Have you heard of Piraha? It is a language spoken by a tribe in Brazil, and they don't have any words for counting or numbers. The theory is that their tribe never needed to count anything, so they didn't develop the terminology for it.

I haven't looked into the Icelandic word you mentioned at all, but it's definitely an interesting case. I wonder what the predominant religion is/has been? Perhaps in their culture/religion, an actual marriage isn't as "important", or maybe it's the other way - think of how much grief would be saved in our culture if an unmarried couple referred to each other as husband and wife!

Sarf's Travels. said...

No I hadn't heard of that tribe. That is kinda neat. I suppose at some point all of humanity was like that. no need to count, so no concept of problem.

As far as I know they where vikings, and Norse until they where converted to christian.

The language predates the coming of the Christians. So that would lead me to believe that was when both marriage and monogamy was introduced. But I have no facts to back that up.