The Linguistic Self: How Do We Express Ourselves in Different Situations?

Using illustration, Calla Gong ’21 demonstrates how she communicates differently in different contexts. 

“The Linguistic Self” is a project from the Translation class in which students were asked to demonstrate their unique utilization of language. Using illustration, Calla Gong ’21 demonstrates how she communicates differently in different contexts. 


When I communicate with a golfer on the course, I speak softly and keep my voice down. The golfer should not make any noise while others are playing, especially when people are using putters on the green. Speaking loudly on the golf course is considered disrespectful behavior that interrupts other players. Therefore, I deliberately lower my volume and use more formal language when I communicate with another golfer.

 

When I am in a classroom, I speak louder and use straightforward language. My purpose of communication in class is to let everyone hear me and understand me. Therefore, instead of speaking quietly like on the golf course, I speak much louder to a group of people. I think twice before I speak to make sure I have the correct grammar and can fluently express my idea.

 

I talk much more loudly to my friends because we get excited all the time. One interesting thing is that I tend to mix Shanghainese, Mandarin, and English together when I talk to friends who have a similar background as me (an international student from Shanghai). We often use several languages in one sentence. The reason behind this is that we are so relaxed while we are talking, so we use the language that first pops up in our mind, and we know that we will understand each other. I also use more casual vocabulary while talking to friends.

 

I speak Mandarin and Shanghainese with my parents and grandparents. We speak in Mandarin with a Shanghainese accent. My grandparents usually speak Shanghainese to me, but I will respond in Mandarin. We use informal language with each other, but not as casual as the way I talk to my friends. We use a loud voice when we are at home, so we can hear each other from different rooms.