Learning a New Language, Taking up a New Culture: Language and Culture Differences between Scottish Highland and Lowland in the 18th Century Reflected in R. L. Stevenson’s Kidnapped

Zhenyu Niu


R. L. Stevenson’s novel Kidnapped takes Scottish Jacobite rebellions as its background and reflects resistance of Scottish people under British rule in the first half of the 18th century. Though within the same Scottish nation, the two heroes, Lowland boy David and Highland rebel Alan, have shown sharp contrasts in languages, political stands, moral standards and cultural values. Their contrasts reveal the binary opposition of Lowland and Highland cultures in the 18th century and can be explained by Fanon’s theory about language and culture differences within the same nation. In Kidnapped, the Lowland characters despise their own native culture, and regard the Highlanders who still keep traditional Scottish culture and language as “savage”. Therefore, they reject their own native culture and language, and have to completely depend on the English language and culture. The main goal of this article is to illustrate that learning a language also means taking up a culture, and it is essential to cultivate cultural awareness for English language teaching and culture teaching for foreign languages learners.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.22158/selt.v4n4p573


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