Yes! Learning the language is vital to the success of your move. That is, if you’re a cultural expat.
As a cultural expat, you are motivated to bring your culture, or a specific aspect of it, to the people you’re living among (missionary expat), or you are a student of the new culture. Either way, you’ll need to speak the language well enough to communicate on the level of ideas and interests, not just on the level of asking for the bathroom or ordering in a restaurant. While there’s a lot of commercial communication that can take place through sign language, pointing, and the like (think of bargaining in a market for something you want), understanding culture necessitates knowing the language.
Language is Culture.
German anthropologist Franz Boas believed that culture and language were inextricably intertwined. Boas believed you could not understand a culture without a deep understanding of its language, and that a language and its culture evolved together. In the process, each shaped the other, so that language, in effect, created culture while culture also created language.
If you’ve identified yourself as a cultural expat, better dust off that foreign language dictionary, take yourself off to class, or fire up that computer software.
So, bonne chance, viel Glueck, buona fortuna, 幸運, boa sorte, удача, buena suerte and 好运.
Culture and languages do intertwine quite a bit. In most of the western countries, culture and language go hand-in-hand. In some countries though, such as India, the language changes every time you drive for a few 100 miles in any direction. The overall culture (the customs, the norms etc.) tend to stay the same but slightly modified. So the language is more like a sub-culture in those cases.
Thanks for your comment. Interesting that language is more of a sub-culture in India. Do you have any explanation for why that is true? How much change is there in the language over a distance of, say, 500 miles. Would it be like the difference between a Mississippi drawn and a New York twang, or is it more different than that?