Is the expression 'culture empowers the language' correct?

Here I'd like to express the idea that language contains certain culture, the culture shapes a language and makes the language more attractive and meaningful.

I want to use this in my graduate application essay, I'm going to apply the Bilingual/ bi-cultural education in the States.

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    It's grammatically "correct", but semantically I don't think it works because language is an abstract concept, with no "autonomous mind", or "sense of purpose". I would say you can't "empower" language any more than you can give it confidence, or reassure it, for example. But I don't think this question is really about "use of English" at all - it's about the fact that the idea you're trying to express doesn't exactly make sense. I would say language reflects culture (and thus, culture shapes language). Jan 6, 2016 at 13:27

1 Answer 1


Your use of empower is to have the meaning of effects, enables, enhances.
It is cleverly used instead of the more generic

powers a language

If you are speaking about a specific language

In French, culture empowers the language

if you are speaking about how culture effects different languages

culture empowers a language

if you are referring to how culture impacts language development in general

culture empowers language. For example

The latter could be used as a tag line for a course that teaches cultural differences in various languages

In French the use of "you", meaning the person being spoken to, can have a polite/formal "vous"and an informal/familiar form "tu", such distinction does not exist in English.

Eskimos have 28 different words for snow

In general, having many words meaning which have slightly different meanings shows what the culture behind a language considers important.

In Chinese, different words are used to reference relatives are different for one's mother's side versus one's father's side, as well as whether the relation is older or younger. Family structure is very important in Chinese culture and the language reflects this.

Knowing these differences between and within languages can also be very empowering to the knowledgable.


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