Glossary for Intercultural Studies

Aboriginal People

Assimilation, Slave




Aboriginal People

These were the first people to live in countries such as Australia and Canada. They are the natives of the land and have always lived in the area. They are often called aboriginals, natives, Indians and First Nations People.
One of the earliest contacts with natives in Americas was in 1492 by Christopher Columbus when Aboriginal people helped his crew overcome sickness after their many months at sea.
The Aboriginal people were the first people to live in Canada; they have been here for thousands of years. They have many different spiritual beliefs and cultural traditions that have been passed down from generation to generation. Many of them lived in the Prairies and were nomads who hunted buffalo. They often built dams to catch fish as well. It was these people who invented the teepee which is made of poles arranged in a cone shape and covered with animal skins. They have depended on nature for their survival and have had a special relationship with it. For them, the Earth is sacred, something to be respected and they consider themselves a part of it. In Canada, there are three recognized groups of Aboriginal people: The Inuit, Métis and First Nations, these three groups represent 93% of the aboriginal tribes. Although there are over 50 Aboriginal languages in Canada, and many more dialects, only three of them are dominant- Cree, Inuktitut and Ojibwa. The rest of them are slowly disappearing. There are presently approximately
700,010 natives residing in Canada which represents only 3% of the total population and they are considered to be a minority culture as they were dominated- and many were even assassinated- by the English many years ago.

Aboriginal people in Canada, 1999,
Aboriginal People Profiles - Indian and Northern ,



Assimilation, Slave

Marjorie Baillargeon

Acculturation: The term “acculturation” defines the individuals or groups that adapt themselves to another culture without totally losing their attachment to their own culture. They normally change their customs and beliefs that result from the contact of societies with different traditions and habits. There are two major types of acculturation that are based on two classes of conditions under which changes take place.

The first one would be the “free ‘borrowing’ and modification of cultural elements may occur when people of different cultures maintain an interchange without the exercise of military or political domination of one group by another. These new elements may be integrated into the existing culture in a process called incorporation”. For example, when the Spanish colonists conquered India in the 18th century, Indians, being in contact with them, included Spanish elements such as clothing and metalworking techniques into their own culture in their own way.

The second type takes place when a culture establishes dominance through military conquest or political control and forces the other culture to change their way of living according to theirs. A good example would be when the Europeans colonized the North American Indians or Africans. These could not even think by themselves, they had to do everything that the “powerful nation” was telling them to do.

The word “acculturation” is often conflated with the term “assimilation”. However, there is a difference between these two.

Assimilation, as a term, was probably borrowed through Old French assimilation, from Latin assimilationem before 1425. It defines the process by which individuals and groups completely adopt a new culture and lose almost their entire attachment to their own culture. Usually, they are immigrants or very isolated minorities who give up most of their traditions, habits and beliefs and gain new ones taken from the society that they are in. They change at such a degree that socially, they become indistinguishable from other members of the society.

“Complete assimilation rarely occurs” probably because of all the great diversity of cultures all around the world. On the other hand, the most cases of assimilation that we can find are found in the United States, the “melting pot of ethnic groups”. Indeed, immigrants to the United States, through relocation, the influences of the public-school systems and other forces in American life, became almost completely assimilated within two or three generations.

Myth: A myth, by definition, is a legend or a story (Webster, 972). Word from 1830, it is “in part borrowed, perhaps from the French mythe (1818), and directly from New Latin mythus, from Greek mythos speech, thought, story, myth, of unknown origin; and in part probably a back formation from earlier mythology and perhaps mythical”. The earlier form mythus never became established in English but because it was used by Coleridge in 1825, and later by Carlyle, Trench and Thackeray, it gave way to the word myth that we know today.

Myths have many different meanings. They can be old stories such as legends, which are considered more historical, or fairy tales for children like Snow White or Santa Claus. Myths can also be falsehoods like superstitions, something untrue that many people believe like all the bad luck ones such as the black cat or Friday 13th. It can also be the explanation of the unexplainable like the creation of human and the reason why we exist and all the stories that are related to it. They could also mean incidents involving the lives of gods or stories of culture heroes like Hercules. Therefore, they are often used to explain complicated things with a simple and amusing way. Apparently, even the Old Testament can be looked upon as being mythical.

Many cultures have a different myth to explain the origin of man that they believe is correct based on their oral tradition. Native Indian myths suggest that the joining of spirits created man. Spirits also taught man how to survive. The Greek myth of the origin of the man contains gods and superhuman characters such as all the different gods like Zeus for example. But science evolved a lot and because it could answer a lot of questions, cultures began to realise that their myths could not be real. And because of all this, myths became more stories of entertainment than answers to questions. They also became more, as I mentioned before, things that many people believe that are not true like the belief that a woman cannot achieve a pregnancy upon the primal intercourse experience, or else, things that adults tell kids to make them do what they want like saying that eating bread crusts will make them grow.

Nation: The word “nation” comes from nacioun, used probably before 1300, which means a country under one government, a group of people of common descent. The term is borrowed from the French nation, and directly from Latin nationem.

A nation defines a large group of individuals who share some elements of a culture, including a common past and a common destiny. “Usually, members of a nation possess a common language, share bonds of kinship and attach themselves to a particular homeland.” In the Encarta Dictionary, nation means five different things. It is defined as “a community of people who live in a defined territory and are organized under a single government”, as “a community of people who share a common ethnic origin, culture, historical tradition, and frequently, language, whether or not they live together in one territory or have their own government”, as “a Native American people or a federation of peoples”, as “a territory occupied by a Native American nation” and finally, as “a group of people united by a common interest” like music for instance.

Slave: The term “slave” was not used until the Middle Ages. It comes from the French esclave but the word already existed, in one form or another, in the 9th century. It would refer to the time when the Slavs were conquered by Germanic tribes and made servile. The Slavs were a tribe of people living in eastern Europe in the area now occupied by Poland. The word slave then first appeared in Slavic in the form of an ethnic name as Sloveninu and the Greeks picked it up in the Byzantine era as Sklábos. Medieval Latin took the word as Sclavus, which soon became sclavus , after the many Slavic slaves that were in Europe. Then, the Romance languages borrowed the word from Latin and that is how Old French came to have the word that it transmitted to Medieval English. It was earlier in the English form as sclave but the c was soon lost. The term Slav originally meant “glory”, “noble”, or “illustrious” because this is the way Slavs thought of themselves.

By definition, according to Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, a slave is one “whose person and services are under the control of another as owner or master”. On the other hand, the definition of slave that some non-profit organization working to end slavery worldwide gives is a little bit different : “person held against their will and controlled physically or psychologically by violence or its threat for the purpose of appropriating their labour”. The most common part of history that we know about slavery is the part about African people who were taken to the Americas to work in colonial homes and on plantations. It is less known that the Cape Colony was also a slave society from the 17th to the early 19th centuries. The kind of slavery used in the Cape Colony and the Americas is called chattel slavery. Chattel slaves were found in their birth place and taken against their will to different places where they were sold. They were and could be sold many times just as if they were properties or cars today and they did not have a word to say about the people they would be sold to.

Today, we use the word slave especially in a phrase like “working like a slave” when we mean to say that we work really hard on something.

BARNHART, Robert K. The Barnhart Dictionary of Etymology, New York, 1998.

Encyclopaedia Brittanica: Micropaedic. 15th ed., 1995.

“Glossary.” Free the Slaves.

Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary: Deluxe edition, Springfield, 1998, 2338 p.

MICROSOFT. Encarta World English Dictionary, New York, 1999.

“Myth Origins.” Instant Essays.



Immigration is a movement of people (called immigrants and who are also known as aliens) into a country from another country for the purpose of resettlement and to establish a permanent residence somewhere other than their country of origin.

The people who make up the country of Canada come from many different origins, as far back as the early exploration of the sea coasts. In the early 20th century, Canada began receiving a large number of immigrants who were attracted by the expansion of agriculture in the western part of the country and by the development of industries in its eastern part. Around 1930, immigration was discouraged because of the Great Depression but after World War II in 1945, many thousands of people from Europe who were forced to flee their homelands, were admitted in to Canada. Ever since this time, several million people have come to here from over one hundred different countries. Today, one out of every six Canadians was born outside Canada. Two out of three of these were born in Europe. In 1996, 5 million immigrants living in Canada represented 17% of the total population.

Motives for immigration are often economical. Many people leave their countries in hope of finding a job in Canada. Also, the health and education systems in this particular country are free, unlike just about everywhere else in the world. There are also religious and political factors which cause immigration. Many years ago, people also emigrated from their countries to avoid epidemics. High rates of immigration are frequently accompanied by calls for immigration restriction or deportation by nationalist groups. Canada has sought to increase its population through immigration in order to expand the work force and domestic markets. This country is certainly a nation of immigrants.

ANONYM. Immigration in other Countries,

See studies by M. R. Davie (1983), I. Glazier and L. DeRosa (1986), V. N. Sinha (1987), D. R. Steiner (1987), and A. Richmond (1988).

Statistics Canada, Census of Population.



The capability of speaking more than two languages. Individuals who can, to whatever degree, understand or produce written or spoken words in more than one language are called multilinguals . Some of these people possess very high levels of proficiency in all their languages in the written, comprehensive and oral modes but one doesn't have to be perfect in all 3 languages or more to be considered multilingual, just so long as one is able to function, at some level, in more than 2 languages. There are two kinds of multilingual people:
· simultaneous multilinguals who have acquired 3 languages simultaneously as a first language and
· sequential multilinguals who have acquired their second or third (or both) language(s) after the first (or first two) were required.
Most of the world's population today is bilingual or multilingual. Only a minority of the world's people are monolingual (speak only one language). Five to eight thousand different ethnic groups live in approximately 160 nation states. That means that over 5000 distinct languages are spoken in these states. Each of the world's nations has groups of individuals living within its borders who use other languages in addition to the national language to function in their everyday lives. English and French are Canada's two most widely spoken languages (approximately 85% of the population in 1991 speaks one or the other). This country, according to the language statistics from the 2001 Census of Canada, is becoming more and more a multilingual society with more than five million Canadians (17.5%) having a mother tongue other than English (59.3%) or French (23.2%).

Class notes
VALDÉS,Guadalupe. Multilingualism,




A favorable or unfavorable, premature judgment based on stereotypes of an individual or a group. It is a negative manifestation of integrative power and it pushes people apart. A prejudice can be towards an ethnic group, a gender, a religious or linguistic minority and it can cause a great deal of human suffering. It is a hostile, resentful feeling; an unfounded dislike for someone, even if we don't know that person and have no evidence as to how that person, or group, is. It is a degrading attitude that helps us feel superior or chauvinistic.

Some researchers say that prejudice is a "fear of the stranger," others say that it is a religious or nationalist chauvinism, and also a fear of economic competition. Prejudice is something that is learned, many prejudiced people don't realize that they are like that and it is hard for them to stop, but it can certainly be reduced when members of different communities work together to achieve the same goal.
Prejudiced people violate three standards: reason, justice, and tolerance. Many people say that it is wrong to judge others negatively without evidence or use stereotypes without allowing for individual differences as nobody is the same.

Many historians believe that prejudice can not be understood without a sense of history. For example, slavery 150 years ago is related to today's anti-black attitudes. Another example of prejudice due from the past are the religious wars 400 years ago between Catholics and Protestants that killed thousands of people. This can be related to today's distrust of each religion by the other.

Disliking others without valid reasons: prejudice, 1995
Prejudice and Discrimination, Conflict Research Consortium, University of Colorado,