Ethnolinguistics, Diversity, and Social Justice

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The word "diversity" seems to mean something different to many people, but is typically meant as a "variety" or a "mixture" (differences in practices, appearances, ideals). The word diversity has been used to highlight the fact that there are significant personal, dispositional, and cultural differences between many of the individuals in this society. In many cases (but not all) the view has been that society should learn to respect these differences as opposed to try to assimilate them (Nicholson & Seidman, 1995). Cases where these differences should not receive respect and tolerance occur as in the case of incest, child abuse, cannibalism, or others similar practices that pray on the rights of other individuals. In the context of healthcare and counseling, the notion of diversity reflects the identification of changing demographics and economics of a developing multicultural environment (Ratts, 2009). This recognition of diversity has challenged healthcare organizations and counseling providers to consider cultural diversity as a priority. However, providers should recognize that addressing diversity goes far beyond recognizing and knowing the values and beliefs of different ethnic groups, but also should address a number of other constructs such as gender issues, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, physical size, age, disability issues, socio-economic status, and many other similar constructs. Ethnolinguistics (or cultural linguists) investigate how the

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