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Research Highlights 4
February 2001

What's in a Name?
Our western mind-set causes us to think every name, or noun, refers to some objective reality. This causes us to start with the name then try to describe or define the category, to see who goes into it. This is very confusing when you find different writers using the same word to refer to different entities.

It can lead you in the wrong direction when you assume 2 different names must refer to two distinct people groups. A more productive approach is to ask how a certain word or name IS USED by various individuals or groups. You can find overlapping usages by different writers or inconsistencies, older terms and newer ones, etc. Especially you need to be aware of the vague lines between what we would like to be clearly different people groups.

This was the problem with the Kurds, since many resources were published before extensive updates in 1996. Our report shows how confusing and overlapping names can be. Some groups are referred to by the name of their religious sect, locale, tribe or language. All of these designations overlap.

A listing by ethnic name and language can be better reference point. This is what is meant by the term people group. This basic reference identification can then be cross-referenced to country, town, language and sect for communication access purposes.

E xample -- The KURDS: The Kurdish peoples consist of about 15,000,000 individuals who speak 12 distinct languages, related to Persian. They live primarily in Iran, Iraq, Turkey and surrounding countries, but several million live in European countries.

The Kurds have existed at least since the ancient Median-Persian times. A recent extensive review of the Kurdish peoples revealed a clearer relationship between the languages, people names, places where they live and the various Muslim sects involved across the ethnic lines. Full review 
of the Kurds

Who and What is a "People Group"?
Humans are social creatures. Individuals are part of one or more groups. One group may be part of a larger group containing other smaller groups. How do you decide who to profile and how big a grouping to include?

Language is one clear and distinctive characteristic. Who we can talk to about what things determines critical boundaries of various kinds. But there are other factors that determine ethnic closeness or distance. Ethnicity and culture cover similar categories of social characteristics.

Lots of material and sources need to be cross-referenced for a true picture. It often helps to compare the form of their self-name with the name they are called in other languages.

Time with the people and in their language are critical resources. Many considerations come into this question -- there are not clear-cut ready-made categories. Further, because of the nature of human psyche and society, that picture is always changing. On-the-ground investigations are critical for ongoing accuracy.

For more on how to define or recognize a "people" and how new people groups develop, check:
What is a People Group?     Cities and People Groups

Some names we can hear or come up with describe "segments" of ethnolinguistic groups, rather than "people groups." some are regions or religions, overlooking other ethnic characteristics that further distinguish and separate peoples' identities.

It is helpful to keep in mind a basic ethnic focus, and supplement that with other descriptors of social status, education, age, occupation, geography, religious sect, etc. This will keep our listings and categories more consistent.

These other categories within a population group are called segments. Read more about segmenting in our resource kit:

Worldview discovery is a key to ethnic identity, and guides for a standard frame of reference. Without such a standard frame of reference, individual bits of information are confusing and frustrating. I can help make sense out of disparate bits of information.

Read more on worldview and worldview investigations in our Resource Kit:
What is Worldview
Standard Worldview Investigation Outline
Standard People Profile Template
Visit our profiles section.

Many other resources are found in the Strategy Leader Resource Kit
We'll have more on Worldview in the next issue.

Please feel free to share this newsletter with others.

Last Updated 03 January 2005

Web Sites
Please send us your people group web site address. We would like to link to your web sites, especially profiles and worldviews. Thanks to those who have sent us your web site addresses for the SLRK.  Visit our profiles section.

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Please place a link on your site to our two primary resource sites:
The Virtual Research Centre    http://virtualresearch.org
    Or http://virtualresearch.org/

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Or you can download it and place the graphic in your own web site directory.

-- Orville Jenkins (OBJ) < researchguy@iname.com> <orville@jenkins.nu >

Copyright © Orville Boyd Jenkins 2001
Permission given for free download and use for personal and educational purposes. All other rights reserved

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