Category Archives: Fundamentals

Definitions and explanation of fundamental concepts relating to the topics of this website.

Defining Culture

Culture (Latin: cultura, lit. “cultivation”)[1] is a modern concept based on a term first used in classical antiquity by the Roman orator, Cicero: “cultura animi”. The term “culture” appeared first in its current sense in Europe in the 18th and 19th centuries, to connote a process of cultivation or improvement, as in agriculture or horticulture. In the 19th century, the term developed to refer first to the betterment or refinement of the individual, especially through education, and then to the fulfillment of national aspirations or ideals.

In the 20th century, “culture” emerged as a central concept in anthropology, encompassing the range of human phenomena that cannot be attributed to genetic inheritance. Specifically, the term “culture” in American anthropology had two meanings:

(1) the evolved human capacity to classify and represent experiences with symbols, and to act imaginatively and creatively;

(2) the distinct ways that people living in different parts of the world classified and represented their experiences, and acted creatively.[3]

Hoebel describes culture as an integrated system of learned behavior patterns which are characteristic of the members of a society and which are not a result of biological inheritance.[4]

Culture can be defined as the shared patterns of behaviors and interactions, cognitive constructs, and affective understanding that are learned through a process of socialization. These shared patterns identify the members of a culture group while also distinguishing those of another group. [2]

The main aspects of a culture can be divided as follows:
Language (and dialects)
Religion (spirituality)
Aesthetics (art, music, litterature, fashion and architecture),
Values and ideology,
Social conventions (norms, taboos, etiquette)
Gender roles
Recreational activities (holidays, festivals, etc)
Commercial practices
Social structures

The human expressions, percieved as a culture, can take place in so many ways, shapes and forms… the followings are some examples (some include others)

folklore, myths, epics, legends, tales, books, poems, riddles, traditions, beliefs, lore, use of plants, cuisine, celebrations, festivals, carnivals, rites, dances, chants, hymns, clothings, embroidery, jewelry, ornaments, architecture, carvings, city organisation, behaviors, rituals, ceremonies, mores, customs, norms, taboos, etiquette  …and what else ?


Defining Folklore

Folk+Lore = Folklore

according to…
1. Usually, folks. ( used with a plural verb ) people in general : Folks say there wasn’t much rain last summer.
2. Often, folks. ( used with a plural verb ) people of a specified class or group : country folk; poor folks.
3. (used with a plural verb ) people as the carriers of culture, especially as representing the composite of social mores, customs, forms of behavior, etc. : The folk are the bearers of oral tradition.
4. folks, informal.
a. members of one’s family; one’s relatives: All his folks come from France.
b. one’s parents: Will your folks let you go ?
5. Archaic. a people or tribe.

1. The body of knowledge, especially of a traditional, anecdotal, or popular nature, on a particular subject: the lore of herbs.
2. learning, knowledge, or erudition.
3. Archaic.
a. the process or act of teaching; instruction.
b. something that is taught; lesson.

1. the traditional beliefs, legends, customs, etc., of a people; lore of a people.
2. the study of such lore.
3. a body widely held but false or unsubstantiated beliefs. (why false ?)

according to Collins dictionary
1. the unwritten literature of a people as expressed in folk tales, proverbs, riddles, songs, etc.
2. the body of stories and legends attached to a particular place, group, activity, etc.
3. the anthropological discipline concerned with the study of folkloric materials.