Object 2: A text

June 1, 2021


This photo is a screenshot of an exchange over text with a close friend, where I accidentally asked her in Hindi, ‘Did you finish the work?’ Her reaction is one of confusion, since she does not speak the language. This showcases both the language barrier, as well as her initial judgement of the foreign script. The fact that this object is also a screenshot of a somewhat typical text conversation allows us to explore the unconscious bias that people have about certain languages.

English is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world today, and as a result majority of people speak English, leading to the widespread belief that English as a language is superior to others. As a result, many people are satisfied with English being the only language they speak; in this case, my friend’s negative reaction, calling the script ‘jiggly squiggles’ reflects both her ignorance of the language as well as the opinion she has been conditioned to have of foreign languages, resulting in the negative connotations of the comment. The fact that this object is a screenshot of a text conversation also reflects how this bias can reflect in our everyday lives and actions, be it in comments we make or our initial reactions to seeing a foreign language.

As a result of this, one may argue that English would be a more useful language to know how to speak, since it is the most widely spoken language in the world, and most people have a positive attitude towards it, and there is less judgement surrounding it than other languages. On the other hand, It can also be said that knowing how to speak Hindi gives me an advantage over my friend here; I have access to all of the knowledge in this conversation, meaning that I know the full context, whereas the knowledge that she access to is limited to whatever is written in English. Both languages are useful, and learning each one comes with its own benefits, but there is no true way to say whether one is better than the other since there are too many factors that can affect this.

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