Intercultural Glossary A-F



  • “Process by which adults acquire the knowledge, skills, attitudes, values, and behaviors that enable them to become functioning participants of a new host culture” (adapted from Grunlan and Mayers 1979, 85, retrieved January 26, 2012, from
  •  “Processes by which families, communities and societies react to inter-cultural contact while retaining characteristics of own culture. As a result a new, composite culture emerges, in which some existing cultural features are combined, some are lost, and new features appear (Dot-connect, (n.d.) Cross-Cultural and Intercultural Dictionary, retreived on February 27, 2012, from
  • Process of culture change in which contact between two or more culturally distinct groups results in one group taking over elements of the culture of the others group. or groups (Culture, Inculturation, and Theologians, loc 3882) 


  • Very early texts have been reread in the light of new circumstances and applied to the contemporary situation of the people of God. The same basic conviction necessarily stimulates believing communities of today to continue the process of actualization.
  • Actualization rests on the following basic principles:
    • Possible because the richness of meaning contained in the biblical text gives it a value for all time and all cultures (cf. Is. 40:8; 66:18-21; Mt. 28: 19-20). The biblical message can at the same time both relativize and enrich the value systems and norms of behavior of each generation.
    • Necessary because biblical texts have been composed with respect to circumstances of the past and in language conditioned by a variety of times and seasons.
    • Necessary to apply their message to contemporary circumstances and to express it in language adapted to the present time.
    • Aim of which is to go beyond the historical conditioning so as to determine the essential points of the message.
    • Actualization should always be conscious of the complex relationships that exist in the Christian Bible between the two testaments, since the New Testament presents itself, at one and the same time, as both the fulfillment and the surpassing of the Old. Actualization takes place in line with the dynamic unity thus established.
  • It is the living tradition of the community of faith that stimulates the task of actualization. This community places itself in explicit continuity with the communities which gave rise to Scripture and which preserved and handed it on. In the process of actualization, tradition plays a double role: On the one hand, it provides protection against deviant interpretations; on the other hand, it ensures the transmission of the original dynamism.
  •  (Dei Verbum, 10).


  •  “A process of consistent integration whereby members of an ethno-cultural group, typically immigrants, or other minority groups, are “absorbed” into an established larger community” (Dot-connect, (n.d.) Cross-Cultural and Intercultural Dictionary, retreived on February 27, 2012, from
  • “Adoption of the organization’s culture. This is usually seen by subordinate groups as conforming to the values of the dominant group” (Connerly & Pedersen, 2005, p. 4).
  • Can produce mistrust in the long term if  the dominant group does not attempt to understand the values of the subordinate group. (Tung, 1993 in Connerly and Pedersen, 2005, p. 4).

Authorial Audience

  • Kind of readers who would have been at home in the sociohistorical context within which the text arose.
  • Sometimes interpreters speak of, or attempt to reconstruct the identity of, “actual readers.”
  • A concern with James’s actual readers would accord interpretive privilege to the first reading—or, rather, a series of first readings—by the historical readers of James.
  • Readers to which we have no direct access, with the result that we end up making our best guess on the basis of what the text itself seems to assume or imply of its readers. That is, the kind of readers who would have been at home in the sociohistorical context within which the text arose. (From Green, Joel B.. Practicing Theological Interpretation (Theological Explorations for the Church Catholic) (Kindle Locations 354-355).



Every culture contains co-cultures, or those groups and social communities, that take their own uniqueness and identity yet carry many of the distinctives from the broader dominant culture. People often have dual membership between one or more cultures according to race, ethnicity, gender, age, or other factors (Samovar, Porter, & McDaniel, 2010, pp. 12-13). A person’s co-culture affiliation impacts the way one communicates due to perceptions of the external world and its inhabitants; as a consequence, communication across cultures affect human contact.


Rogers and Steinfatt (1999) say that coding represents, “a classification such as a language used by individuals to categorize their expression and to communicate it to others” (p. 114). Coding results in both nonverbal and verbal communication.


  • Colonizing interpretation occurs when anyone says we must achieve certain results when interpreting scripture. 
  • Colonialism is a practice of domination, which involves the subjugation of one people to another. (Kohn, Margaret, 2011,”Colonialism,” Stanford Encylcopedia of Philosophy, retrieved on February 27 2012, from


For the reason that many definitions of communication exist, the one selected relates communication across cultures in the context of transformation. We do need to understand though, the basic characteristics of all communication before moving on to the broader aspects of culture. Having said this, “communication is a symbolic, interpretive, transactional, contextual process in which people create shared meanings” [1]

Communication, Transformational

Transformation results from the Holy Spirit’s inner workings. It serves as a vehicle for believers to convey Christ’s mission for salvation and renewal to the community and world for the purpose of building the Kindgom of God. Thus, as Christ’s ambassadors we communicate to make disciples and edify the Body for unity in Christ.

Transformational communication encompasses five axioms that nurture a saving and renewing culture: (1) supports God’s purpose and plan; (2) revolves around love; (3) generates from the Holy Spirit; (4) brings understanding and (5) unifies the Body in diversity.

Grounded in love and generated from the Holy Spirit, it aims to present the listeners with both individualized and varied people-centered styles from a compelling message. While the communicator adapts the message to meet the needs and means of those perceiving meaning, biblical message does not change. To draw people to the message the communicator strives to leave a compelling idea that significantly affects the listeners with long-lasting meaning that leads to hunger for Jesus and growth in His grace. At a broader level, the complexities of its diverse transmission reach across cultures to unite a diverse Body as one in Christ to bear witness of Jesus, the Son of God. (Paron, 2013).


Communication occurs in context, which effects how a person decodes any given verbal or nonverbal message. Existing factors such as cultural (learned values, beliefs, and behaviors), historical (expectations and motivation), psychological (emotions, intentions, mood, power/authority, and judgment), occasion (place, event, situation, and relationship), environmental (locale, space, setting, time, and spiral of silence) and number of people (individual, group, or multitude) all play a role in establishing context. (Noelle-Neumann, 1984; O’Keefe, 1990; Rogers and Steinfatt, 1999; Samovar, Porter and McDaniel, 2010).


  • “the efforts of formulating, presenting and practicing the Christian faith in such a way that is relevant to the cultural context of the target group in terms of conceptualization, expression and application; yet maintaining theological coherence, biblical integrity and theoretical consistency” (Wan 1999, 13)
  • “the attempt to communicate the message of the person, works, Word, and will of God in a way that is faithful to God’s revelation, especially as put forth in the teaching of Holy Scripture, and that is meaningful to respondents in their respective cultural and existential contexts”(Hesselgrave and Rommen 2000, 200)
  • “a process in which God is recognized as THE Contextualizer–who wants to be understood, and who reveals his purposes through both people and events. This process reaches its ultimate expression in Jesus Christ who uniquely communicates the Father’s character and purpose–so that the Incarnation because the defining expression of al effective communication” (adapted from Kraft in The Word Among Us, Chapter 6; cf. Taylor 2004).
  • Definitions of contextualization, whether they emphasize the aspect of communication (Hesselgrave, 1991), theology (Bevans, 2002), or lifestyle (Flemming, 2005), assume diversity in local contexts. However, as local contexts adopt resources from global flows, they move toward homogeneity, reducing the differences between their local identities. In light of the global availability of mass-produced, one-size-fits-all resources, models, and programs, and their adoption by churches around the world, the process of contextualization, specifically our understanding of what is indigenous as it relates to the process, needs to be reexamined. (Ron Barber, Globalization, contextualization, and indigeneity: Local approaches to indigenous Christianity, Missiology: An International Review 2020, Vol. 48(4) 376–391 httpDs:O//dIo: i1.o0r.g1/107.171/0770/901098128926926020991166918.\, p. 377).

Cultural Cannibalism

The postulate that one person or culture has more of a right to exist than another, or than all others (Begins with condescension). Attitude assigns a superiority over the other person or culture. Begins with the humanization stage, which can eventually lead to calculated genocide…(Woodley, R, Living in Color, loc. 177)

Cultural Boundness:

  • Cultural boundness influences communication for culture and communication walk side by side, inseparable (Paron, 2013a, para. 6). Further, cultural boundness comes from the notion that, “one’s culture drives understanding that generates from idea exchange,” when people interpret from their ethnocentric view. When a source communicates a message the receiver interprets it upon sharing a common cultural beliefs or misinterprets it due to noise from opposing beliefs.  Message processing hinges upon one’s ethnocentric interpretation.
  • Larry Samovar and Richard E. Porter (2000) define ethnocentrism as, “the perceptual prism through which cultures interpret and judge other groups” (p. 10) Dissimilar prisms produce cultural boundness during the message-making process. 

-D to E-


Peasants lived in a state of indebtedness to elite landowners. During the first century in Judea and Galilee many peasants could not pay rent and taxes. Their indebtedness brought about the expectation that they would give repayment and honor to their creditors. In essence, they found themselves unable to cope. Many adjusted by tenant farming. Some could not pay their loans, thereby, losing their freedom to slavery. Jesus’ parables played against this backdrop of duress to illustrate economic relief for those suffering from the oppressive management of debt in these regions through the Kingdom of God. [2]


Encoding occurs when the source sends an idea to a receiver. [3]  The encoding process has an irreversible property. Once the source sends the message, the originator cannot take it back again but can modify or clarify it.  [4]

Encyclopedic Knowledge

Refers to knowledge of the world, as opposed to knowledge of the language system. Further, it “represents a model of the system of conceptual knowledge that underlies linguistic meaning.” Thus, encyclopedic knowledge covers everything regarding the inherent concepts of a word. However, both encyclopedic knowledge and linguistic knowledge represent two sides of the conceptual system playing a critical component in how people make sense of communication. [5]

Kecskes noted that one sees encyclopedic knowledge “in cultural models and schemes that provide scenarios or action plans for individuals of how to interpret speech situations and behave in a particular circumstance or how to interpret the behavior of others in one or another circumstance.”[6] Cultural scheme is for social interaction or cognitive structures that contain knowledge for face-to-face interactions in a persons social cultural environment. Without a full understanding of the encyclopedic knowledge of a word or expression, one cannot grasp its meaning.


Assembly or church. The earliest Christian communities saw themselves as Jews from the true assembly of a renewed Israel. They still attended temple and obeyed the law, even though they had their own identity.


Factor of Debt

A peasants obligation to benefit the elites of society in the New Testament agrarian world.[2]


[1] Mryron W. Lustig and Jolene Koestner, Intercultural Competence: Interpersonal Communication Across Cultures (5th Edition, Boston: Pearson), 10.

[2] Douglas Oakman, The Social World of the New Testament: Insights and Models (ed. Jerome H. Neyrey and Eric C. Stewart; Peabody: Hendrickson, 2008), 65.

[3] E. Rogers & T. Steinfatt, Intercultural Communication (Waveland Press, 1999), 114.

[4] R. Zeuschner, Communicating Today, (2nd Edition, Allyn and Bacon, 1997).

[5] Istvan Kecskes, Intercultural Pragmatics (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), Retrieved from

[6] Istvan Kecskes, Intercultural Pragmatics, 82.

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