How do you talk about language?
How do you tell people about your experiences talking new languages, and the reasons you have for deciding to learn other languages?
!! please note that this film does not have sound !!
The New Speakers Studio is a series of cultural instruments conceived and made by Deirdre MacKenna as part of her AHRC funded PhD research, in dialogue with the EU COST Action ‘New Speakers Network‘ which is a group of researchers, policy makers and stakeholders working together to explore the dynamics involved in becoming a New Speaker of a language in the context of a multilingual Europe.
Deirdre and Bernadette O’Rourke, Chair of the New Speakers Network, first met at one of the regular GRAMNet collaboration development meetings in Glasgow in November 2016 and their fluent dialogues began to map out ways which could bring valuable academic research to the attention and use of people in related contexts and situations.
Deirdre wanted to find a way of enabling people to think about what goes in during the precise sod becoming a migrant: new places, new people, a strong sense of a past which is no longer present, flashbacks when memories are triggered by something unfamiliar, otherness, and inability to comprehend the people around you socially and linguistically.
Deirdre decided that the best place to start was to listen to people who were living this transitional state: she put out a call through social media and used word of mouth to invite people to be filmed in a semi-structured interview. Agata Urbanska, Brian Thunder, Daniele Sambo, Hanneke Scott-Van Weil, Leena Nammari, Miren Manias, Nadifa Essa and Nina Bacos, had relocated to Scotland from the Basque Country, Holland, Ireland, Italy, Palestine, Poland, Somalia and Sweden, and shared their stories and opinions about learning and using a language other than their mother-tongue in Scotland today. In doing so, they helped Deirdre define what would become The New Speakers’ Studio.
Deirdre was well aware of the 'trope', the usual habit, of making a visual image for film and photography works which present the external appearance of the person in the story: she wanted to avoid this, and the possibility of audiences becoming distracted from the stories by the age, gender, ethnicity, cultural styling of the storytellers, or New Speakers. She felt that the stories were the focus, not the external appearance of the people telling them. So she asked the interviewees to bring along an object to the interviews which reminded the interviewees of their experiences speaking new languages, and she used these asa visual-substitute. The objects were filmed and photographed and along with animated text, the interviewees’ narratives and language journeys have been brought to life.
The film and photographs are accompanied by The New Speakers’ Guide which is the first booklet published to explain the New Speakers concept and provide quotes from New Speakers about their experiences.
The version of the film here was edited for the audience and participants of the Refugee Festival Scotland 2017 at the Milk Cafe, Glasgow.
Please go to nspk.org.uk/the-new-speaker-studio.html for links to all the films, Guides and Posters which make up the New Speaker Studio...