Summer 2020 Issue XVI: Language Stories

In the spring of 2020, students gathered in a Hatfield Hall classroom to read bilingual writers together and to reflect on their own experiences with language. When the campus closed in March, their work traveled with them, dispersing across the map but drafted and revised together online.  These ten linguistic autobiographies tell stories of paths forged by language.  From South Korea, Ireland, Jamaica, and South Carolina to El Salvador, Japan, Norway, and Morocco, the essays map how language can place us in the eyes of others and how we use language to place ourselves.

Dawn Fulton, guest editor

CABAL: A Linguistic Autobiography by Isabel Ruiz Cano - CABAL (kah-bahl) Means exactly. Used when you agree with someone or if you try a pair of shoes that fit perfectly. If… Continue reading CABAL: A Linguistic Autobiography
Attempts to Exceed the Language Binary by Zoe Koeninger - I identify as nonbinary and use they/them pronouns, primarily because those are the most succinct ways to describe my current relationship with… Continue reading Attempts to Exceed the Language Binary
Parles-tu français ? by Kimani Freeman - “Parles-tu français ? !” “Mais oui, je parle français !” Every time I open my mouth to utter a few words in… Continue reading Parles-tu français ?
Double and Not Half by Mika Holtz - Mixed-raced children are called hafu in Japan, from the English word “half.” When I was younger, being a hafu felt like a… Continue reading Double and Not Half
Ali Baba by Chloe-Rose Crouch - *While the following piece is based on a true story, all names and places are fictional to protect the identity of its… Continue reading Ali Baba
“Is Spanish or Arabic an easier language to learn?” by Jaimie Mayor - As a linguist, I find this question frustrating, and as a student of both languages, I hear it far too often and… Continue reading “Is Spanish or Arabic an easier language to learn?”
The Gift of the Blas and Other Languages I Don’t Have by Emma Fallon - School has been the legally and socially enforced structure of my life for the better part of my sixteen years. At age… Continue reading The Gift of the Blas and Other Languages I Don’t Have
Warm Hospitality by Sage Theune - When people ask me how I got interested in Japanese, I usually tell them it was my love for Japanese literature, sparked… Continue reading Warm Hospitality
Transit Translations: A Metro Map of the Seoul by Estelle Yim - “Being in a foreign country means walking a tightrope high above the ground without the net afforded a person by the country… Continue reading Transit Translations: A Metro Map of the Seoul
An Autobiographical Reflection on My Name by Kaya Spencer Frith - Kaya is the name I got – my mum agreed to it because of an ancient Sanskrit meaning: spirit made flesh, the… Continue reading An Autobiographical Reflection on My Name