by Michael Haregot and Ian Street
Though linguistic diversity is something everybody experiences in their daily lives, many don’t know the factors behind this phenomenon. Linguistic diversity is a broad term, that is most often defined as the language characteristics that appear in a given geographical area or the situations in which language is used. Our campus-based research was determined to find a link between linguistic diversity and how context influences people's decisions regarding how they use language. We defined context to be synonymous with Dell Hymes' SPEAKING mnemonic which defines the mnemonic as “S: setting, P: participants, E: ends, A: act, K: key, I: Instrumentalities, N: norms, G: genre” (Hornberger, 1989). Our studies combined both the analysis of context regarding bilingualism on Swarthmore’s campus as well as the context surrounding peoples' language decisions in the modality of texting.
by Ariana Hoshino and Maggie Zoz
Language + Diversity = ?
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 sociocultural linguist and digital media producer. Her forthcoming ethnography Zombies Speak Swahili is all about the undead, videogames, and why language and communication matter. She teaches at Swarthmore College.