Project #2 Revised for Final
Professor McCormack Joseph Bailey
Language and its Diversity
Language is a means of human communication, either oral or written, that can be used to express an infinite combination of ideas, and is governed by a system called grammar. Within a language, there can be sub languages, causing diversity in its overall grammatical set up and use between people interacting with it. When someone is said to be multilingual, it means that they at least have the basic capability to read and write in two or more languages. A polyglot is the name for someone who has the ability to do this. A good example would be a Marine Corps Linguist. They have the ability to not only understand several languages, but to also communicate effectively with them. People that can efficiently interact and shift between languages in a conversation are said to be doing something called codeswitching. A prime example of this would be a Spanish speaker, who knows English, but grew up in Italy, and speaks the language. A conversation with them may start off with, “Hola, how have you been?” Meanwhile they may respond, “sono buono,” when asked how they are doing. They started off in Spanish, followed by English, and then responded in Italian. When speaking to close friends or family, or other users of the language, it is very easy to get caught up expressing yourself in the different languages that you know, especially when one can effectively establish how you feel more than another.
“English has clearly been the de facto dominant language since the British introduced it in North America” (Garcia, O. 1992). If we are talking about multilingualism, why would we be talking only about English? I have a theory that multilingualism is not a term completely dedicated to the person that can speak multiple languages. Inside one language alone, that language can have many vernaculars, and if a person is using the different varieties of their language to communicate with people they are indeed multilingual.
In order to prove this theory, I conducted a study measuring the different types of languages that I would speak in a 24 hour period. Language is a means of communication that can explain an infinite number of things or ideas. Multilingualism is the ability to read or write in two or more languages. Being that the only language I speak is English, I would be measuring the different types of English that I use within a 24 hour period. I measured using English, Standard American English, Black English, and Texting English. English is the main language in the United States, where I reside. Standard American English is the English that you are taught to speak as you climb the ladder of higher education. It’s used by politicians, professors, the President of the United States, and anyone else usually holding positions of importance or teaching. Black English is a vernacular used by many people, generally coming from low income neighborhoods, but is not specifically only used by black people. It is also called Ebonics. Texting English is English spoken via text. Words and full sentences even are shortened to be able to text faster and for a better understanding of feelings or emotions. Usually a text will be coupled with an emoji, for example, LOL =). At first I had no idea what kind of variations of English I would be speaking, but at the end of the study I was able to break it down to these three vernaculars of English, and English itself. I had trouble sleeping so I was able to more accurately gauge how much time I was really using communicating in these different types of languages, thus leaving me free of limitations. The study was conducted on a weekday between school, my extracurricular activities, and home. This included any interactions in between the transition of these places. Every time I would interact with someone, I would record how much time spent speaking with that person, and in what language, using an app called evernote. After the allotted time period was over, I then broke the data down into its separate languages, and put that into a 24 hour time table, which allowed me to see how much time I spent speaking.
Figure 1: 24 Periods of English
I found some interesting results after the study. No matter where I was, or what I was doing, I spent the majority of my language time communicating via Texting English, a whopping 10 total hours to be exact. So yes, according to the data, I am multilingual. I am a polyglot even because me texting someone while having a conversation is me switching back and forth between languages in order to accommodate multiple parties. I did have a bias before I started the test. I believed that I was multilingual, but as far as a polyglot is concerned, I did not feel that I would fit inside of that category.
Overall I used texting English more than anything throughout my day. Being that I did not sleep that night, I was able to accurately measure how much time I spent expressing myself in these different types of English vernaculars. I was surprised to find that English itself was not the language I communicated in for the majority of the time. Most times I am by myself or in school, and I am either listening to lectures, or writing papers. Even more so than that, I am texting on my phone. I spend hours a day, cumulatively, texting, talking in a language that is informal, yet formal to a vast majority of American culture. So now we know that one can be multilingual in one language and its different variations. This matters, especially in English speaking cultures because there are a large percentage of people that do not respect the vernaculars of English, to the point where they will not even call it a language. These vernaculars may not have a grammatical standard that they follow, but they are still a widely used means of communication that people all across the United States use. All in all, the results prove that in order to be multilingual, you do not have to speak read and write in multiple languages, but you must be able to communicate in your language and at least one of its sub languages. If this study was done in another country, the results would not be the same as far as the different types of languages that are used, but as far as multilingualism is concerned, the results would be the same. People all over the world communicate in their native tongue, but also in other languages too. Multilingualism is a multicultural phenomenon that will only continue to expand the more the world learns about itself.
Garcia, O (1992)Societal multilingualism in a multicultural world in transition. In Languages for Multicultural World in Transition. Northeast Conference Reports on the Teaching of Foreign Languages.. Lincolnwood, Illinois: National Textbook Company, pp. 1-27.
Ophelia Garcia is a professor at the CUNY Graduate center, teaching in the area of Urban Education and Hispanic and Luso-Brazilian Literatures and Languages. Her article on multilingualism points multilingualism in the world, how it is viewed, and also how others may feel about it, being if it is proper or not. It shows how important language can be, but some people do not agree, especially when it comes to English. I used this article specifically because it shows that multilingualism is ever present, and will probably never go away. Forcing someone to speak one language, or not accepting another’s native tongue is cutting off their means of communication in a way.
1) please note that figure 1 cannot be seen but is included in the original document.
2) Research design has been removed from the introduction , also a research question/ theory has been presented.
3) The study has been further explained in methods with more clarity, than in the previous document.
4) The cell phone rant has been taken way, the data has been further explained and tied into research question.