Sometimes it is Greek: Acculturation

Ray-bans in the Rainforest.

Each week, “It’s not GREek!” will discuss a new word likely to appear on the GRE.  We aim not only to give you a new word to memorize, but also to provide you with some background and etymological history to help you remember it.  At the end of the post, we will also give you a sentence with a few other new words to add to your flash cards.  By following this weekly series, you should be more prepared than ever to tackle the sentence completion, sentence equivalencies, and reading comprehension questions on test day.

This Week’s Word: Acculturation

Acculturation is the process by which individuals and societies are impacted by culture. This includes children, who from the moment of birth onward are instilled with the cultural values of their particular society and group, as well as cultures and societies in a larger sense, who interact and influence one another globally, regionally, and locally.

Etymologically, acculturation is a combination of the Latin prefix ad, “to, or toward” + culture + the English noun ending -tion, which often means “process.”

Interestingly, acculturation is a prominent academic term in the fields of sociology, linguistics, and anthropology, among others. Though often construed in a negative context, acculturation does not necessarily mean the sublimation of one cultural group to another; the Fourfold model, for example, provides four distinct types of acculturation:

1. Assimilation: when individuals reject their minority identity in favor of the cultural norms and mores of the dominant culture.

2. Separation: when individuals reject the culture of the dominant group in favor of preserving their culture of origin.

3. Integration: when individuals are able to adopt the cultural standards of the dominant group while maintaining their culture of origin.

4. Marginalization: when individuals reject both their culture of origin as well the culture of the dominant group.

Sample Sentence:

Amy thinks acculturation is abhorrent, but Amy also advocates adopting American attitudes; antithetical academics all call Amy “the addled activist.”

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