Office of Diversity Initiatives hosts Amy Kuiken’s accent lecture

Maddie Davis, Co-News Editor

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On Wednesday, the Office of Global Diversity Initiatives hosted Amy Kuiken for her talk titled “Beyond My Accent.”

For the talk, Kuiken focused on the dialectics and different accents within all languages.

Kuiken is a linguist and a French adjunct professor at Wilkes.

Before her talk, Kuiken asked her attendees to take a dialect quiz which measured where a person’s dialect is from.

Throughout her talk she engaged the audience of traditional students as well as the MEDUCA 10 students from Panama, a student from Kuwait, and one student from Jamaica.

She also gave a poll to the audience through an application to ask whether the attendees have ever been teased for the way that they talk. Kuiken found that 11 of the attendees had said yes and four had said no they had not been teased.

Maddie Davis
Amy Kuiken interacted with the audience throughout her lecture calling for group participation, translation and pronunciation help, and quiz and poll participaiton.

She was surprised that people have not been teased and explained that these individuals may not realize that people are teasing them for their accent.

“We do often get teased for the way we speak. Sometimes it is friendly and sometimes it is a little more than that,” said Kuiken.

Kuiken then flipped through different popular items in American culture to see the different pronunciations and names the audience would come up with and explain these are based on where they were from.

She then moved to talk about her background as a linguist and how, with the universal phonetic alphabet, anyone around the world can pronounce different sounds.

She also offered tips when you may not understand an accent and stressed that everyone has an accent.

“I have an accent, you have an accent, we all have an accent” said Kuiken.

A few of the students who had attended the event commented on the content of the talk and overall why they came.

Thomas Krutsick, a senior psychology and neuroscience student, attended Kuiken’s talk with a few of his friends.

“I attended because I have an interest in linguistics, as the way something is said can pack more meaning than the words themselves,” said Krutsick.

Alexsandra Quadarella, a freshman psychology and neuroscience student, also attended the event.

“I learned a lot about languages and dialects that I didn’t know before,” said Quadarella. “It was interesting to see how something you take for granted, such as language, can be overlooked by people who live in the same area as you.

“There were Panamanian students there too and hearing them not understand the differences in our dialect was very interesting,” she added.

For more information about the Office of Diversity Initiatives and their upcoming events, please contact Erica Acosta at Erica.Acosta@wilkes.edu.

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