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July 21, 2011

Graduate Students Produce Podcasts on Baltimore Language

Chelsea Haddaway
Communications manager

This spring, students in a class taught by Christine Mallinson, assistant professor of language, literacy and culture, researched the languages and language varieties heard in and around Baltimore. Now, their findings—which took students from the white marble steps of Hampden’s “hons” to immigrant communities —have been summarized in a series of podcasts that uncover some of the linguistic charm of Charm City.

“Not that much linguistic research has been done on the unique accents of Baltimore, but the city is a good laboratory for studying language variation,” said Mallinson.

The students produced three podcasts as part of the “Language in Diverse Schools and Communities” graduate seminar Mallinson taught in spring 2011:

• “‘Welcome to Baltimore, Hon!’ Exploring Hon as a Linguistic and Identity Marker in Baltimore,” which examines the changing nature of the word “hon” in Baltimore culture.

• “‘Baldamor, Curry, and Dug’: Language Variation, Culture, and Identity among African American Baltimoreans,” which unpacks some of the unique pronunciations heard in African American communities.

• “Multilingualism and Ethnicity in Baltimore, Maryland,” which takes listeners into Baltimore’s multilingual communities to learn about language contact and language choice.

In addition to the student-produced podcast, Mallinson also produced her own: “‘It’s a Language Variation, and It Has Its Own Structure’:K-12 Educators in Maryland and Virginia Talk about Language Variation in the Classroom.” Mallinson is the co-author of the recent book “Understanding English Language Variation in U.S. Schools” with Anne Charity Hudley, associate professor of English, linguistics and Africana studies at the College of William and Mary, and the podcast discusses the work they have done with teachers to integrate language variation into their classrooms.

The students conducted original research and fieldwork for the podcasts, which are each about 40 minutes long so that they can be used in a high school or college classroom. The ideas for the podcasts came from the students’ own experiences with language in Baltimore.

“I really appreciated the role of being knowledge creators rather than simply knowledge receivers,” said Daniel Morales ’11, MA intercultural communication, who co-created the “Multilingualism” podcast.

In addition to providing students with research experience, creating the podcasts also gave students the opportunity to apply the concepts they’ve learned in class to the world around them.

“You can’t lose sight of the fact that language really matters in everything that we do, and it has social consequences that are related to our identity and culture,” said Mallinson.

“It is a rewarding end to know that the all encompassing task of producing a podcast on a topic I am passionate about has the opportunity to reach many more people than a written publication might,” added Inte’a DeShields ’13, Ph.D. Language, Literacy and Culture, who created the ““Baldamor, Curry, and Dug” podcast.

Posted by chelseah at July 21, 2011 12:04 PM