This page is going to describe terms used when describing ethnic groups.

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Lingua franca - A spoken language that acts as a main unifying language for different ethnic groups speaking different dialects. The Indonesian language is the national lingua franca of Indonesia that enables unified communication among all of the different ethnic groups.

De facto - A language spoken by a majority society and even public services, but has no legal status. The Spanish language is the de facto language of Mexico and English is the de facto language of the United States.

Dialect - A language or simply a spoken communication that differs from organized languages or sometimes a different version of the same language. Mandarin and Cantonese are both dialects of the Chinese language. Castilian is the main dialect of Spanish.

Working language - Not a too common term, but a language that is used in offices and public services. The Indonesian language is East Timor's working language. Working languages can simply mean an official language as well.

Liturgical language - A language used for a specific religion. Arabic is the liturgical language of Islam.

Code-switching - Using words and phrases from another language in the middle of a conversation done in another language. Filipinos code-switch between Filipino and English many times, in the middle of conversation done in Filipino.

Cognate - Usually found in related languages, a word between two different languages that either has the same or similar spelling and shares a common origin, and means the same thing. The Spanish and Portuguese languages have many cognates because they are related languages.

Loanwords - Usually a cognate from the result of colonization, loanwords are words that are borrowed from one related or unrelated language to another. The Bulgarian language contains many Russian loanwords, as a move to eliminate the Turkish influence.

Isolate language - A language or dialect that is unrelated to any other languages, therefore not belonging to any language family. The Basque language spoken in Spain and France is isolate language.


Descent - This describes the ethnicity of someone's ancestry, A lot of Vietnamese people have Chinese descent.

Etymology - Describes the origins of an ethnicity or country's name. Mexico's etymology comes from the Spanish word mexica used to describe the native peoples of what is now Mexico.

Overseas - A person of a certain ethnicity, born and raised outside of his parents' or ancestors' native countries. British, Irish and German people make up the largest overseas European ethnicities in the United States.

Indigenous - Native to a certain country or region. Indonesia contains hundreds of Southeast Asia's indigenous peoples who speak their own languages and dialects.

Diaspora - A forced relocation of ethnic group from their native countries often due to corruption or poor living conditions. Irish people have experienced the largest diaspora in the United States, due the extremely poor living conditions in Ireland.