Importance of Biodiversity

What is cultural hybridization?
Answered by HowStuffWorks
  • HowStuffWorks

    HowStuffWorks

  1. In anthropological circles, the term cultural hybridization stands for the process by which cultures around the world adopt a certain degree of homogenized global culture while clinging to aspects of their own traditional culture. The result is a mixture, or hybrid. Imagine a U.S. teenager who's passionate about pop singers from the U.S. but loves anime, and you get the idea.

    The hybridization notion extends beyond external cultural aspects: Language itself can take on hybrid forms. As a country with a long immigrant tradition, the U.S. has seen many hybrid languages appear. These hybrids occur as new immigrant populations try to negotiate the competing demands of retaining a connection to their native culture and embracing their new environment. Finglish, for example, was a blending of Danish, Finnish, Norwegian and English that appeared in the U.S. at the end of the 19th century. Polingish (a blend of Polish and English) and Chinglish (a blend of Chinese and English) are two other prominent examples of in-between languages that have served as bridges for immigrants between their old and new homelands.

    Clearly, languages have a fluid quality to them and are influenced by geography and migration patterns. It's no surprise that cultures often have hybrid components. If you're inclined to wonder just how old is language itself, hybrid or no, current thinking holds that our bodies developed the capacity for language some 100,000 years ago. Interestingly, a researcher recently has claimed in a journal article that southwestern Africa is the likely origin of all of language itself. By studying the patterns of several hundred languages and the number of vowels, consonants and sounds used to make them tick, biologist Quentin D. Atkinson found that the further a language got from southern Africa the fewer such sounds, consonants and vowels it used. This lessened diversity coinciding with distance from Africa mirrored similar findings in relation to genetic trends: Atkinson's research suggested a spread of language outward from Africa that paralleled the spread of mankind itself [source: New York Times].

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