An oral fieldwork – in the pipeline

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“Yet in a deep sense language, articulated sound, is paramount. Not only communication but thought itself, relates in an altogether special way to sound”.
Walter J Ong, Orality and Literacy

“I speak Spanish to God, Italian to women, French to men, and German to my horse”
That’s what Charles I of Spain and V of Germany used to say. 

Two very contrasting quotes that serve as excellent lead ins to set the scene for an idea I’m developing. An experiment. A process. An oral fieldwork. I’ve always been one for working with what’s around you, who’s in your life and pushing that a bit more. Language is important in our household at the moment as GG starts to learn to talk. But what will he talk? I’m learning Serbian, S is learning Spanish (language pen pals) and English is just there.

So the recorder is on most of the time these days. Seeing if I will capture signs of language development leaning a particular way. Picking up signs of parents speaking ‘naturally’ or a bit ‘over the top’ in their second/third language. We behave differently when we adopt a different language and that’s what I’m interested in – how language can feel ‘real’ or ‘performed’. Who do we become when we change our words?

What impacts occur on other people when we speak in these different ways? The effects especially, on a person learning to speak for the very first time. The moment when we hear and speak without consequence, when we stumble, worry and also laugh.This project aims to bring us back to this vulnerable point in time that adults rarely remember. It allows us to explore if we can revisit this awakening and if influence and identity are intertwined.

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