NEWPORT, R.I. – Many of today’s most popular television sitcoms are leveraging “second language” dialogue to get the biggest laughs, but are shows like Modern Family, Saturday Night Live and 30 Rock providing an accurate portrayal of different cultural groups?
Dr. James G. Mitchell, associate professor of French, Italian and Linguistics at Salve Regina University, is developing a book on this topic and will present some of his research in a talk at McKillop Library on Monday, March 5 at 4 p.m.
Free and open to the public, Mitchell’s presentation, “Second Language Use On American Primetime TV: The Crossroads of Humor and Social Commentary,” will be given in the Munroe Special Collections Room. A reception will follow the presentation.
Mitchell will examine the portrayal of second language speakers in popular television in the U.S. as well as the inherent attitudes that these representations convey about the groups they purport to depict.
In the U.S., second language or L2 is defined as a language learned after the mother tongue. Not surprisingly, L2 speakers and their non-native English use contribute to humor in today’s most popular television shows and as a result add to our understanding of linguistic and cultural diversity in the U.S.
Mitchell’s overarching research specialization is second language acquisition.