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process in which the less dominant culture adopts some of the traits of the more influential one; typically takes place when immigrants take on the values, attitudes, customs, and speech of their new country


the belief that inanimate objects (rocks, mountain, rivers, plants) have spirits and conscious life


human creations that reflect values, beliefs, and behaviors


occurs when the dominant culture completely absorbs the less dominant one; for example, when immigrants lose their native customs, including religion and language; sometimes occurs over the course of several generations


universalizing religion that actively seeks converts to its broad views and beliefs; relatively new faith founded in Iran in 1844 by Siyyid 'Ali Muhammad; followers believe that Husayn 'Ali Nuri was the prophet and messenger of God, not Muhammad, the founder of the Islamic faith


actions that people take; generally based on values and beliefs


specific statements that people hold to be true and are almost always based on values


the ability to communicate in two languages


world's third major universalizing religion; has 365 million followers; began on the Indian subcontinent where its founder Siddhartha lived; diffused along the Silk Road and water routes across the Indian Ocean, mainly to East and Southeast Asia, where it remains a strong religion today; has three main branches: Mahayana, Theraveda, Tantrayana


ethnic religion in China; doesn't involve concepts of supernatural omnipotence so is often viewed as philosophy, not religion; provides a code of moral conduct based on humaneness and family loyalty

contagious diffusion

a form of expansion diffusion in which almost all individuals and areas outward from the source region are affected; implies the importance of direct contact between those in the source region and those in outlying areas


evolves when a pidgin becomes the first language of a group of speakers; these speakers may have lost their former native tongue through disuse

cultural determinism

perspective that emphasizes human culture as ultimately more important than physical environment in shaping human actions

cultural diffusion

a process in which the early cultural hearths' non-material and material culture spread to areas around them them

cultural ecology

the field that studies the relationship between the natural environment and culture

cultural geography

an important component of the human geography course that looks at the transformation of the land and the ways that humans interact with the environment

cultural hearths

the areas where civilizations first began that radiated the customs, innovations, and ideologies that culturally transformed the world

cultural landscape

the modification of the natural landscape by human activities

cultural relativism

the practice of evaluating a culture by its own standards

cultural transmission

the process by which one generation passes culture to the next

culture complex

formed when a culture trait combines with others in a distinctive way; consists of common values, beliefs, behaviors, and artifacts that make a group in an area distinct from others

culture region

an area marked by culture that distinguishes it from other regions

culture system

a group of interconnected culture complexes; formed by any area with strong cultural ties that binds its people together

culture trait

a single attribute of a culture


ethnic religion in China; doesn't involve concepts of supernatural omnipotence so is often viewed as philosophy, not religion; holds that human happiness lies in maintaining proper harmony with nature


regional variants of a standard language


forced exodus from their lands of origin

Durkheim's sacred and profane

ordinary (defines most objects, events, and experiences) and extraordinary (inspires a sense of awe and reverence)

Eastern Orthodox

branch of Christianity that officially split from Roman Catholicism in the 11th century C.E.; about 10% of all Christians are part of this branch; it's strong in Eastern Europe and Russia

environmental determinism

belief that the physical environment, especially the climate and terrain, actively shape cultures, so that human responses are almost completely molded by the environment

ethnic religion

religion that appeal primarily to one group of people living in one place


the practice of judging another culture by the standards of one's own culture

extinct language

languages that were once in use but are no longer spoken or read in daily activities by anyone in the world

folk culture

culture traditionally practiced by small, homogeneous groups living in isolated rural areas

folk culture region

region in which many people who live in a land space share at least some of the same folk customs

folk life

composite culture, both material and non-material, that shapes the lives of folk societies, such as those in rural areas in the early settlement of the United States

geographic region

formed by a culture region representing an entire culture system that intertwines with its locational and environmental circumstances

Hagerstrand, Torste

famous geographer that wrote about cultural diffusion

hierarchical diffusion

a type of expansion diffusion in which ideas and artifacts spread first between larger places or prominent people and only later to smaller places or less prominent people


ethnic religion; world's third largest religion; has 800 million adherents and most of them live in India; generally regarded as the world's oldest organized religion still in practice; has no central god or a single holy book; has a belief in the existence of a universal spirit that manifests itself in many shapes and forms


ideology that emphasizes the ability of human beings to guide their own lives

independent inventions

developments that can be traced to a specific civilization

Indo-European language family

most common language family; languages in this family are spoken by about half the world's people; English most widely used; includes German, Slavic, Baltic, and Romance


universalizing religion; world's second largest religion; has about 1.3 billion adherents; one of the youngest of the world religions; its founding date is in the 7th century C.E. on the Arabian Peninsula; has two main branches: Sunni and Shiite (Shia)


boundaries within which the words are spoken; however, not a clear line of demarcation, with the use of particular words fading as the boundary is approached


ethnic religion; one of the world's oldest religions; founded around 2,000 B.C.E. by Abraham in the lands bordering the eastern Mediterranean Sea; has about 15 million adherents; first recorded monotheistic religion


a systematic means of communicating ideas and feelings through the use of signs, gestures, marks, or vocal sounds

language families

groups of languages that have a shared but fairly distant origin

language sub-family

a smaller group of related languages within a language family

lingua franca

an established language that comes to be spoken and understood over a large area; named after a medieval dialect of France spoken by Crusaders from various European countries as they pursued their quest to recapture the Holy Lands from the Turks

linguistic fragmentation

a condition in which many languages are spoken, each by a relatively small number of people; may result in an area where many major languages have diffused or where people have existed in relative isolation from others

linguistic geography

the study of speech areas and their local variations by mapping word choices, pronounciations, or grammatical constructions


branch of Buddhism that consists of 56% of its followers; "Big Wheel;" characterized by broad incorporation of ideas and gods from other religions as it spread into East Asia


ideology that transformed communism into a central ideology in many areas during the 20th century

material culture

type of culture that includes a wide range of concrete human creations called artifacts

migrant diffusion

form of relocation diffusion in which the spread of cultural traits is slow enough that they weaken in the area of origin by the time they reach other areas

monotheistic religion

religion centered on the belief in one God


the ability to communicate in more than two languages

non-material culture

type of culture that consists of abstract concepts of values, beliefs, and behaviors


the rules and expectations by which a society guides the behavior of its members

official language

the language endorsed and recognized by the government as the one that everyone should know and use


an amalgamation of languages that borrows words from several; a hybrid that serves as a second language for everyone who uses it; sometimes results from long-term contact between less skilled people

popular culture

culture found in large heterogeneous societies that are bonded by a common culture despite the many differences among the people that share it; primarily but not exclusively urban-based, with a general mass of people conforming to and then abandoning ever-changing cultural trends


branch of Christianity; 25% of the world's Christians are part of this branch; this branch first split from the Catholic Church in the 16th century and later divided into hundreds of denominations; is strong in North America, Northern Europe, Britain, South Africa, and Australia

regional identity

an awareness of being a part of a group of people living in a culture region

religion: branches, denominations, sects

subgroups; large and basic divisions within a religion; divisions of branches that unite local groups in a single administrative body; relatively small groups that do not affiliate with the mroe mainstream denominations

relocation diffusion

a process of diffusion in which individuals or populations migrating from the source areas physically carry the innovation or idea to new areas

Roman Catholics

branch of Christianity; 50% of world's Christians are part of this branch; has concentrations in Latin America, French Canada (Quebec), Central Africa, and Southern and Eastern Europe

Sauer, Carl

geographer that focused on the process in which diffusion occurs through the movement of people, goods, and ideas in Agricultural Origins and Dispersals (written in 1952)


an ethnic religion in which people follow their shaman, a religious leader and teacher who is believed to be in contact with the supernatural


branch of Islam; 16% of all Muslims make up this branch; most are located in only a few countries of the Middle East


universalizing religion that actively seeks converts to its broad views and beliefs; most of followers live in Punjab region of India; stresses continual improvement and movement toward perfection by taking individual responsibility for their actions; combines beliefs from Hinduism and Islam but centers on the teachings of its founder, Guru Nanak

standard language

languages that are recognized by the government and the intellectual elite as the norm for use in schools, government, media, and other aspects of public life; often the dialects identified with countries' capital cities or centers of power at the time the nations developed

stimulus diffusion

a form of expansion diffusion in which a basic idea, though not the specific trait itself, sitmulates imitative behavior within a population


largest branch of Islam; 83% of all Muslims make up this branch; many live in the Middle East; Indonesia is the country with the largest concentration

symbolic landscape

landscape that contains a meaning; signs and images found in the landscape convey us to messages that demand interpretation


expression of cultural beliefs that carry a particular meaning recognized by people who share a culture


the process of the fusion of old and new; it's a major explanation for how and why cultural changes occur


branch of Buddhism; about 6% of Buddhists are part of this branch; "Vehicle of the Text;" has an emphasis on magic as well as different meditation techniques; found primarily in Tibet and Mongolia


branch of Buddhism; about 38% of Buddhists are part of this branch; characterized by a stricter adherence to the original teachings of the Buddha; this branch is strong in Southeast Asia

time-distance decay

the influence of the cultural traits weakens as time and distance increase; influences the rate of diffusion


the study of place names; a special interest of linguistic geography

traditional religion

religion that is an integral part of a local culture and society


a process in which two-way flows of culture relfect a more equal exchange of cultural traits

universalizing religion

Christianity, Islam, Buddhism; attempts to be global in its appeal to all people, wherever they may live in the world, not just to those in one location

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