I need support with this Science question so I can learn better.
The goal of this project is to give you an opportunity to learn about language and cultural similarities and differences firsthand through a conversational exchange with someone who grew up speaking a language other than English (or who grew up speaking two+ languages, one of which can be English). The project is framed as a “conversation” because your conversation partners may be eager to learn about you. Your relationship should be equitable, mutually respectful and mutually beneficial. Your partner’s time is precious and you will both be busier at the end of the term, so I encourage you to talk often in the first weeks of the term.
Ethics: Prior to beginning your conversation and interviews, read Ahearn Chapter 3 on research methods and ethics. Pay special attention to how to conduct an interview and how to conduct ethical research. Share the consent and information form with your partner and make it clear that you are conducting these interviews for our course. During your conversations, ask your partner for permission to take notes when you are conducting your interview. If you are unsure whether you can include some details, ask your partner for clarification. If you find it difficult to write notes and have a conversation simultaneously, consider recording your conversation. Ask your partner for permission to record your conversation. Establish when and whether you should delete the audio file with your partner. Zoom has an option to record and this may help some of you, but you must ask permission and you should determine whether it makes your partner uncomfortable.
Interviews or “Conversations”: You will be conducting ethnographic interviews, which take the form of a purposeful conversation. It is not simply a Q&A but a mutual exchange of information. You should come prepared with a set list of questions (see below), but you should also be prepared to ask about the things your conversation partner is interested in discussing. Follow them where they lead you and you may discover questions you didn’t know how to ask! While you listen, take down the words in your partner’s language to the best of your ability and then get the translation.
Fieldnotes: Allow yourself time directly after your meetings to write down expanded observations, what we call field notes. If you audio record your interview, you can transcribe your interviews as well.
Papers: The “field notes” constitute your primary data on which you will base your four papers. In each paper, you will focus on specific topics (see below). The final paper is a reflection on the process as well as a conclusion on how the research process helped you understand specific concepts in linguistic anthropology.
Your papers should be between 750-1250 words (3-4 pages). These papers will be descriptive as they describe what you learned from your partner. They will also have some analysis as you refer to concepts from the reading in the paper.
Feel free to switch topics if you are not getting enough information. Use the following questions as a guide only. Come up with some of your own questions that pertain to the topic at hand. Remember that you are gathering your partner’s perceptions of these topics and it may not be very balanced. You may be tempted to look up “the facts.” If you do, be sure to compare and contrast them with the views of your partner. The basic rule is to always say where your information comes from.
Paper #1 should address greetings and leave takings and language learning/ideology. Relate what you find to our concepts from Ahearn Chapters 1-5, including multifunctionality and language ideologies (Chapter 1), multimodal communication (Chapter 2), language acquisition and socialization (Chapter 4), as well as Daniels 9 Ideas About Language.
Greetings and Leave takings: What are the various ways that people greet each other? Does this vary according to age? social class? region? occasion? Take down the words in your partner’s language to the best of your ability and then get the translation. What do people say when they leave each other? What non-verbal body movements or facial gestures accompany greetings and leave-takings? How does your partner contrast this type of greeting and leave-taking with what they encounter here at EKU (or wherever they live)?
Language Acquisition / Learning Languages: What languages or linguistic varieties are spoken in their homes? At what age and how did they learn different languages or linguistic varieties? Do they code-switch? Mix languages? When do they speak or use the different languages or linguistic varieties? To whom? For what purposes? Do they feel different when speaking in different languages or linguistic varieties? How?
Paper #2 should address ideas such as speech communities (Chapter 6), national and official languages (Chapter 7), dialects and jargons (Daniels’ 9 Ideas), and Education (Chapter 5 and Chapter 6).
Speech community: Are there different ways of speaking their language? For example, are there more prestigious forms of the language, different regional dialects, different styles associated with men, women or children, different accents? Which dialects does your partner identify with or speak? Are any of these styles stigmatized or celebrated? Why? Are there varieties of language used in the arts or for performance?
National languages: Does your partner speak the national or official languages of their home country (or their family’s home country)? Are there other languages spoken in their family, community, region or nation? Are these languages equally respected or are some stigmatized? Why?
Education & Multilingualism: Outline the educational system. At what age did your partner start school? What are the different levels they progressed through? Are there major exams between those levels? What is a typical day like in the different levels of schooling (i.e. elementary, middle, and high school)? What subjects are taught? What was the dominant language of the school? What other languages did your partner learn at school? Beginning at what age? Are there differences in the education of girls and boys? What is the status of public vs. private schools? Is it difficult or easy to go to college? Do people generally leave home to go to college or not? How does one pay for a college education?
Paper #3 should address kinship, gender, race, racism, ethnicity from Chapters 10-13.
Please adapt the following questions to be appropriate for your interview. These are only suggestions and they may not be appropriate or respectful to ask. If you’re concerned, please talk over your thoughts with me! I’m happy to think it through with you.
Kinship: Make a kinship chart including people of both genders two generations older than ego (grandparents) and one generation younger than ego. These do not have to map directly onto your own families. Fill in the kinship terms from your language and then, elicit kinship terms from your partner. Be sure to ask if there are different terms for older and younger relatives and, if so, add those figures. Mark with an x the people who live(d) in your and his/her household while growing up. Are kinship terms used for non-kin? On what occasions?
Gender: Are there dominant social roles for different genders? If so, describe their characteristics. What pronouns and other linguistic markers are used to refer to people of different genders? Is this changing? If so, how?
Race, Racism & Ethnicity: Are there assumptions about the language related to race and ethnicity? Do people ever expect your partner to speak in certain ways based on the assumptions people make about their racial identity? How U.S. (or the country where they are living) conceptions of race shape how people expect them to speak? Have they experienced racism or nativism because of their language use? Have they been racialized or ethnicized based on racist ideologies?
Language revitalization and change: Does your partner plan to pass the language on to their children (should they plan to have children or have children)? Is their language being spoken in the community or is there an expectation that it will not be spoken as often? Are there efforts to revitalize the languages’ use in the U.S.
Paper #4 is a concluding reflection on your conversation project. You should incorporate references to course readings and/or course multimedia. Reflect on how this initial ethnographic experience helped you learn about linguistic anthropology. Can you think of ways it has changed how you think about cultural and linguistic diversity in the world?
More details will come on Paper #4 as I read your earlier papers and revise this prompt.