On Nov. 29 at 5:30 p.m., Auburn University students will showcase their projects on linguistic diversity at the Auburn Public Library.
Iulia Pittman of the foreign languages department and Jamie Harrison of the College of Education's English for speakers of other languages department have both had students work on their linguistic projects throughout the semester.
“The major idea behind this is to promote linguistic diversity and bring out this knowledge into the community,” Pittman said.
Mallarie Anderson, sophomore in English literature and a student in Pittman's class, said that linguistic diversity is one of her favorite topics.
“Linguistic diversity in my own words would be the variation between groups of people and then even between individuals in the way that they sound and the way they construct sentences and even things like the connotation of certain words,” Anderson said.
Students in Pittman’s class, who almost all have English as their first language, picked a language that they were unfamiliar with and created projects showcasing what they learned.
“We learned that there are about 7,000 languages in the world, and that was a shocking number to the students," Pittman said. "I had them guess. They said, ‘Well, 250, 300.’ So 7,000 was just like, 'What?'"
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Harrison’s class took a different approach. Students looked into linguistic differences in tone, pitch and other variations between native and non-native English speakers.
“They recorded conversations between these in this small group, and then they used that conversation, and they analyzed that conversation and looked for various items of discourse that they might be interested in,” Harrison said.
Harrison’s class is dedicated to teaching students to work with their future students who will be learning English as a second language.
“I feel like we can help the community grow in this idea that diversity of language is a good thing,” Harrison said.
During the event, posters that were created by the students will be on display and guests are invited to peruse the posters, learning more about the different languages represented in Auburn.
Students will be standing next to their posters to answer questions during the event. In addition, music in each language will be played, and snacks and refreshments will be served.
Pittman and Harrison received a community and civic engagement grant to aid their students in their mission to engage Auburn in linguistic diversity and awareness.
“It’s a competitive grant awarded by the College of Liberal Arts, and the project is funded through that grant, and also, there’s funding coming from the curriculum and teaching through the College of Education,” Pittman said.
Anderson's chosen language is Esperanto, which is a constructed language.
“It’s created to be as easy to learn as possible so that if you had to, you could become semi-fluent in the grammar and things in about a day,” Anderson said.
Anderson worked on the project throughout the semester, and she is excited for how the work of her and her classmates will be received by the Auburn community.
“The Auburn community is already so geared toward inclusion and diversity within its students and the larger community that I think this is a good place to start spreading knowledge that should already be common place,” Anderson said.
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