Multilingualism has a big effect on culture and social relationships. It can lead to a culture clash or it can lead to creating better social relationships. I remember watching many movies that related to multilingualism. In a lot of them, there is always a culture clash between people that speak different languages and come from different cultures. A specific movie that comes to my mind is My Big Fat Greek Wedding. I remember watching it with my mom and relating to it. At the time, my family and I had recently moved from Albania to America. When I watched the culture clash between the families of the bride with that of the groom, I thought about multilingualism and myself. Although I have seen culture clashes and may have experienced some myself, I think multilingualism can definitely enhance social relationships in a lot of cases. Being able to speak multiple languages can help a person connect with others that speak the same language. Multilingual people might find it easier to adapt to other cultures. In the movie, the parents had a hard time connecting with other people from a different culture, while the daughter who had access to both worlds, the Greek and the American, felt comfortable in both environments. The same thing happens to me personally. I like being in Albanian and American environments. Also knowing multiple languages has helped me adapt to other cultures and create stronger relationships with my friends that come from different backgrounds.
Multilingualism is a part of my everyday life. During my classes, I only speak English, except for my Spanish class. During that one hour, I only speak in Spanish. When I talk to my parents in the evening, I switch to Albanian, and when talking to my roommate I try to incorporate some of the Hindi words that she has taught me. Although it might sound as very complicated, it actually is a pretty fun experience. It is fascinating to be able to use so many languages in only one day. My roommate and I started teaching each other our native languages and it is incredible how much you can understand by only learning a few words. Now every time I hear her speaking in Hindi, I recognize a word or two that she has taught me. When I talk to my parents, she will start saying all the words she knows in Albanian and try to communicate with them. Since she only knows a few Albanian words, she codemeshes English and Albanian. When we talk to each other, sometimes we codemesh Albanian, Hindi and English. This is an example of translingualism and shows what Canagarajah mentioned in her text that translingualism blends different languages that allow communication between people who speak different languages (6).
Canagarajah, A. S. (2013). Introduction. In Translingual practice: Global Englishes and cosmopolitan relations. Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.
The author argues in this text, how speaking English with an accent should be acceptable and not pointed out as incorrect or as something that is not acceptable. He mentions an example of a truck driver who got pulled over and was given a ticket only because he spoke English with an accent. He does not agree that the only accepted form of English should be Standard English and he does not see how speaking English with or without an accent is related to road safety. According to the author, all types of English should be treated equally and accepted, because what matters is the ability to be able to communicate. The “Standard English ideology” is leading immigrants and minorities to leave behind and lose their language for the sake of better communication. (190) He talks about something that he calls “interdependence-in-difference”, which shows how different languages coexist and try to be overheard over the other languages. (191) The author believes that all form of English are acceptable and none of them is more or less important than the other. Some of the points of his text are that English should be accepted in all its different forms and teachers should encourage multilingual learning and “interdependence-in-difference.” Teachers should teach students how to intersperse languages. They will not only be working on teaching English to the students, but also on teaching them how to use both languages. The main point that he makes is that speaking with an accent should not be treated as a weakness but as strength, because the speakers can speak another language and intersperse different languages. Everybody should be able to speak with an accent without being treated differently or inferiorly.
Horner, Bruce, Min-Zhan Lu, Paul Kei. Matsuda, and Mao Luming. "Why Don’t We Speak with an Accent? Practicing Interdependence-in-Difference." Cross-language Relations in Composition. Carbondale: Southern Illinois UP, 2010. 189-95. Project MUSE. Web. 23 Feb. 2015.
Two of my good friends are originally from Mexico. They were born in the U.S., but their parents were born and raised in Mexico. My friends speak some Spanish at home, but usually they mix Spanish and English. One day I asked them why were they speaking in English and Spanish at the same time. One of them answered that they called it Spanglish and that was how they communicated all the time with their parents. I actually was present during a conversation between my friend and her parents. Although the mother could barely say a few words in English, and my friend only knew a little bit of Spanish, they could understand each other perfectly. When I was reading the part on page 4-5 of the Canagarajah reading where the mother communicates with her daughter while both of them are using Tamil and English, it reminded me of my friends. Canagarajah calls this a polyglot dialog (pg.5) and explains that it is enabled by receptive multilingualism, which is the principle that we can understand more languages than we speak. I think that my friends’ dialog with their parents in Spanglish can also be considered a polyglot dialog since both sides have a limited knowledge of one of the languages. While the parents can speak Spanish perfectly, their English is very limited and vice versa for the children. I think it is very interesting to see that many of the things that we are reading in class right now relate so much to our own personal experiences.
I have encountered a lot of movies, books and maybe art related to multilingualism, but I would like to start my first blog by sharing my personal experience with multilingualism. I was born and raised in Albania and moved to America at the age of thirteen. Back in my home country, I had a lot of exposure to foreign programs on television. That is how I learned Spanish and Italian. As a child I would watch movies in foreign languages, and after a while I started understanding the language and later on speaking it. I had some exposure to English in school, but I learned it properly when I came to America. I have realized that being multilingual helps me a lot not only in everyday life, but also in school. Some of the classes in which multilingualism has helped me are Anatomy, Biology and English.
According to the article of Canagarajah that we read, multilingualism separates languages, while translingualism goes beyond one single language. Relating to my own experience, I think multilingualism does not mark a separation between languages. On the contrary, I think knowing multiple languages helps in the learning of a new language. I speak Spanish, which has helped me so much in understanding Portuguese.