by Ariana Hoshino and Maggie Zoz
Linguistic diversity can be a pretty abstract concept. In this blog post, we explore how linguistic diversity presents itself through the creation of artistic media and the situational use of different languages. We found that language use in both contexts is dependent on both the intent of the speaker and the target community. Speakers observe the context of their surroundings and language community when determining how to achieve understanding. We conducted two field surveys sampling members of the Swarthmore College community: Project A, where multilingual individuals were asked about their experiences codeswitching, and Project B, where artists were asked about how they utilize language in their literary art. Projects A and B explore ways that linguistic diversity manifests based on speaker’s perception of the language use in their environment.
Jamie A. Thomas is a linguistic anthropologist and digital media producer. Her forthcoming book Zombies Speak Swahili is all about the undead, videogames, and viral Black language. She teaches at Santa Monica College and CSU Dominguez Hills.