Diversity: Concepts and Terminology

Language mirrors the social, cultural, economic, and political environment in which it occurs. As a result, it is dynamic and always changing. Likewise, the terms used to describe people are also always changing to reflect the varying contexts. Terminology is especially important in our increasingly diverse global world because it reflects, consciously or not, the status and value of different groups of people in society. In the effort to be both sensitive and precise in the use of language, some words or terms are more appropriate than others. Thus, culturally responsive individuals as well as institutions need to be mindful of the language used to describe groups of people.


Most societies are inappropriate or insensitive in the terminology they use to describe some people. In its ...

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