I grew up in a complex multilingual community and I took for granted that it was normal for many languages to coexist in complicated ways in a single place. Within the few square blocks of my neighborhood, there were more than a dozen languages in daily use. Some people switched effortlessly among two or three languages, while others spoke only the language that they had brought with them from far away and were unable to converse in either one of the two languages of public discourse. I understood from a very young age that each language that I know has its own peculiar place: languages of religion, languages of scholarship, and languages of different media of expression: spoken, signed, and written. What makes humans special is not just that we have language but that we have languages, thousands of them, each with its own special importance. I have devoted my academic life to trying to understand this truth.
SUSAN E. BRENNAN
My research focuses on the sound systems of human languages: the features that are shared by all languages as well as the ways in which languages may differ. One of my major areas of research concerns the ways in which the production and perception of a foreign language is affected by the native language system. Languages may use particular acoustic cues in very different ways, and the tendency to interpret foreign language cues in terms of their use in the native language may lead to problems in speaking and understanding the foreign language. For example, in tone languages (such as Mandarin), each word has an inherent pitch melody, while in intonational languages (such as English), pitch melodies are a property of entire sentences and are used to signal such things as phrasal structure (with a falling pitch associated with the end of a statement) and the speaker's emotions (such as incredulity, approval, etc.). English speakers tend to have difficulty in learning to use and understand pitch as a signal of lexical differences rather than sentence intonation, while Mandarin speakers tend to miss the subtleties expressed by pitch melody in English.
My research re-examines historical events, utilizes primarysource materials, and analyzes personal histories relating to the dynamic and changing qualities of Asian root cultures in the United States. My database – a collection of narratives and documentation relating to the above –would be placed under the MIC Center, for use by applied linguists, linguists, anthropologists, psychologists, communication scholars, education specialists and scholars of allied disciplines who explore the context and consequences of global mobility.
LILIA DELFINA RUIZ-DEBBE
Dr. Jiwon Hwang received a B.A. in Spanish/English Literature and Linguistics from Hankuk University of Foreign Studies in Korea and an M.A. in TESOL and a Ph.D. in Linguistics from Stony Brook University. Her research interests include second language acquisition, speech adaptation, foreign language teaching and Korean linguistics.
Her research on cross-language processing explores important factors that play a role in non-native perception and production. She has participated in research projects including Korean speakers’ production and perception of non-native sequences and categories and Japanese speakers’ perception of English contrasts. The main findings of the research show that perceptual and gestural constraints should be considered as well as grammatical differences, to fully explain second language error patterns that seem puzzling if viewed only from one perspective (Click here for details). Another line of her research (in collaboration with Dr. Susan Brennan and Dr. Marie Huffman), involves investigating how non-native speakers adjust their production of English when communicating with native speakers of English and with other speakers for whom English is not their first language. The results demonstrate that non-native speakers’ speech adaptation is driven both by pragmatic factors and by auditory priming by the conversational partner. She is currently investigating Korean listeners’ perceptual bias due to the knowledge of phonotactic restrictions and phonological relationship, Taiwanese speakers’ perception of English contrasts (with Dr. Yu-an Lu) and the phonetic and phonological properties of Korean [Cj] (with Dr. Yunju Suh).
My research interests include Japanese linguistics and pedagogy, second language acquisition, and translation studies. In particular, I am interested in the interface between linguistic theories and language education. The use of a language involves amazing complexities, regardless of whether they are structural, semantic, cognitive, socio-cultural, pragmatic, or developmental. Accordingly, the field of language education must be interdisciplinary.
The MIC Center provides us with an unlimited number of possible venues for collaborative research for languages, linguistics, pedagogy, and more. In our current globalized society, intercultural collaboration is a necessity and is advantageous. It allows us to view old problems differently, take advantage of global opportunities, and achieve breakthroughs. It strengthens us as individuals and as a community. The MIC Center provides language educators and researchers to reach out to any field that our lives are relevant to and collaboration is needed for, including healthcare, business administration, public service, education, science research, art, entertainment, and technology. The MIC Center is the much-needed interface between research on communication and our lives in a globalized society.
Dr. Kamal K. Sridhar (Meena) received her MA in TESOL and Ph.D. in Applied Linguistics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is recognized for her research on maintenance of languages and cultures among Asian Indian linguistic communities and on World Englishes. In addition to her book on English in Indian Bilingualism (New Delhi: Manohar, 1989), she has published 30+ articles in major journals and as invited chapters in Applied Linguistics, and teacher training textbooks. She is currently working on a book on language maintenance among the Thanjavur Marathi speakers, who have maintained their language for over 300+ years as migrants within and outside India. She has been invited to present her work on language maintenance among linguistic minorities from India all over the world, including Belgium, Colombia, Greece, Japan, Thailand, Hongkong, United Kingdom, China, and all over the USA, Canada, and India.
She was the co-founder of the Center for India Studies at Stony Brook with her husband and colleague Prof. S. N. Sridhar (1997). She has served the center in several capacities, as a volunteer, director and currently as the associate director.
From 1986 to 1997, Dr. Sridhar directed the undergraduate and graduate TESOL program and served as the Director of ESL at Stony Brook University. From 1989 to 1995, Dr. Sridhar served on the Editorial Board of TESOL Quarterly, a journal devoted to ESL teaching and research. Since 1997, and has been asked to review manuscripts for Language in Society (Cambridge University Press), and World Englishes (formerly Pergamon press, now Blackwell Wiley) since 1995.
Dr. Sridhar serves on the editorial advisory board of Encarta of World Englishes (St. Martin’s Press) and Webster’s Dictionary.
In the last chapter of my book, Rethinking Chineseness: Translational Sinophone Identities inthe Nanyang Literary World, I touch on how Singapore's bilingual policy influenced the growth of multilingual theater in the island city. Working on the chapter made me more and more interested in how language policies shape societies, especially in multiracial and multicultural countries. One of my next projects attempts to examine the intrinsicrelationship between official language policies in Singapore, such as the bilingual policy and the speak-mandarin campaign, shape post-independence Sinophone Singapore literature. The Multilingual and Intercultural Communication Center is a space that will facilitate my research and interests in this particular area. I also hope to share with the campus community, via MIC, a humanist perspective on multilingual and intercultural issues with my research.