FYS*101*21 Description

First-Year Seminar

Language is a powerful tool, one that can be used to help or to harm, to entertain or to condemn, to uplift or to oppress. According to Schiefflin, language ideologies are beliefs that "link language to identity, power, aesthetics, morality and epistemology" and affect not only individuals but communities and nations, both those in power and the powerless (1998). In this course we will explore the effects of language ideologies in different parts of the world, from behaviors as seemingly harmless as telling jokes to very real struggles for social justice. What does the language one speaks tell others about his or her place in the world? Who says what is the "proper" way to speak, and what are the consequences if one resists? How can it be disadvantageous, or even dangerous, to speak the language of one's ancestors? Through a research paper, revision and presentations, we will examine the effects of beliefs about language and the benefits, or repercussions, of actual language use by communities both across the world and in our own backyard.