2022-2023 L'IMAGE Project PI Journal
To cite this page: Taniguchi, Ai. 2023. Principal Investigator Journal #7: Participant Interviews and the Power of Connection. In University of Toronto Language, Identity, Multiculturalism and Global Empowerment Project (L'IMAGE). Available online at https://www.lingcomics.com/pi-journal-7-interviews. Accessed on [date].
Journal #7: Participant Interviews and the Power of Connection
L’IMAGE PI Journal #7: Participant Interviews and the Power of Connection
Alt-Text with long description
[Page 1, Title Page]
Top of page reads: UofT L’IMAGE Project: Language, Identity, Multiculturalism and Global Empowerment
Title over bright red banner: Principal Investigator (PI) Journal
Subtitle under red banner: Journal #7: Participant Interview and the Power of Connection
A highly simplified, drawing of Ai and another woman, who is wearing a hijab and a striped top, is seen. Readers who have been following the L’IMAGE project would probably recognize this person as Meryem, the Turkish speaker from the series.
Bottom right of page: University of Toronto Mississauga logo and University of Toronto logos are visible.
[Long description of text and images in the comic strip:]
The comic strips in the L’IMAGE comic series uses the font Ames, which is the standard font for comics. Ames is an all-caps font. However, Alt-Texts for this project are not written in all-caps so that they will be more accessible for screen readers.
The comic artist for the series is Dr. Ai Taniguchi. Her drawing style can be described as: Japanese manga inspired, cute, large eyes, intentionally sketchy and unpolished line art, simplified, expressive. The comic strips are all digital, but she uses a pen that mimics the line weight of a traditional fountain pen. Her line art is on average 0.5mm in width (relatively thin), but the line weight varies and looks hand-drawn.
The title page of each comic strip is in color. It has a University of Toronto color scheme: navy blue, light blue, and bright red. The background is white with a navy blue frame. The references page and the “About the L’IMAGE project” page also have this University of Toronto color scheme.
The comic strips themselves are black and white, and employ digital screen tones for shading and backgrounds. Narrations are inside rectangular boxes unless otherwise noted.
Top panel: Ai and Gilbert are seen looking at each other; they each have a beverage of some sort in a clear glass with a straw in it. Gilbert is saying something.
Ai’s narration: Gilbert told me one time,
Gilbert’s speech bubble: “Your superpower is connecting with people!”
Ai’s narration: I’ve been wondering what this means, and what underlies this “power”.
Bottom panel: A comically depicted Ai has one knee on the ground, her left hand on her hip, and her right hand raised in a fist. We can see the back of the heads of three people with their hands in the air, and a large hand-written text depicting their loud chant reads: “LIN 204 let’s goooo!!!”.
Ai’s narration: It’s true that, for example, I don’t find it difficult to connect with students, whether it be in a class of 15 students or 700 students.
Top panel: Hand-written caption at the top indicates that the scene is from a department dinner party that Ai is attending. We can see several silhouettes of people, probably the other party attendees. Ai is among these people with a comically blank expression, with a forced smiled in a tiny V shape. Her upper body is leaning to the right, and both of her arms are dangling in front of her lifelessly. She kind of looks like a robot that ran out of battery. There is a person with short black hair in the foreground, looking at someone off screen and pointing at Ai. He’s sweating a little and has a nervous smile. Hand-written text next to him depicting his speech reads, “Yo Ai looks done” (emphasis on done).
Ai’s narration: This is a bit funny on the surface because (contrary to popular belief) I’m not an extrovert. I definite do not (emphasis on not) mentally recharge by talking to people, and I don’t really like socializing in large groups.
Bottom panel 1: A comically depicted Ai is holding what looks like a Nintendo Switch. We can only see her eyes and her mouth is covered by the console.
Ai’s narration: I love spending time alone, and in conversations, especially in large groups, I like listening more than talking.
Hand-written text below the narration box says in parentheses: I don’t mind one-on-one convos
Bottom panel 2: Ai is sipping on a drink via a straw with a neutral expression. A person with short light hair is seen saying “Oh Ai how about you?!”. They are smiling awkwardly and is sweating a little.
Ai’s narration: I wish extroverts knew that I’m usually perfectly content just listening in a group conversation, but my silence usually makes them uncomfortable lol. (But that’s a topic of discussion for another time lol)
Top panel: Ai is resting her chin on her left hand, and is talking to a person with short light hair (possibly the same person as the pervious panel, but possibly not). Ai is saying “Are you OK?” with a calm, neutral expression. Manga effects show that the other person is slightly surprised by this question, and they are sweating a little bit and is smiling awkwardly. They’re saying, “Oh actually…”
Ai’s narration: Anyhow, although I don’t like socialization all that much, I do enjoy observing people a lot. I pick up on a lot of subtle things about people’s intents, feelings, and personalities.
Bottom panel: Ai with a neutral to serious expression is talking to another person with long wavy hair wearing a blazer. Ai is saying to her, “I like your jacket, that shade of pink looks really great on your skin tone.” There is an arrow pointing to Ai and a hand-written caption says, “If I give you a compliment I mean it (not small talk).
Ai’s narration: I listen with a lot of empathy, and I like to make my conversational contributions meaningful and helpful ones. I hate small talk lol.
Top panel 1: A comically depicted Ai, with a sort of amusingly serious expression for the context, is pointing to a creature. This creature has two heads and two legs. There are no visible arms. The two heads look like some sort of combination between a habanero pepper and a dinosaur or an angry bird. The left head is breathing fire. The necks are skinny and long like plant stems. The bottom half of the creature, from its waist to its feet, is darker in color and it looks like it’s wearing pants. Pokemon fans would recognize this creature as Scovillain, particularly the shiny version from Pokemon Scarlet/Violet that looks like it’s wearing jeans. Hand-written text depicting Ai’s speech reads, “I don’t know Pokemon names in English so I just call this one Habanero Pants Fire Breather. Let’s talk about compositionality today.”
Ai’s narration: I generally don’t like taking up space by talking *at* people, do even during teaching, I value speaking informally, making the audience laugh, and being relatable by telling stories.
Top panel 2: Ai has a confident smile and is saying something. Hand-written text depicting her speech reads: “What do you think? Ah I see Teresa nodding yes!”
Ai’s narration: I try to make sure that students are in a *conversation* with me, and I acknowledge non-verbal signs of conversation participation by students as much as possible.
Bottom panel: Ai is pointing up and is smiling and saying something. Hand-written text depicting her speech reads, “Ah you probably thought that because X! That’s related but slightly different because Y. Cool observation though --- remind me to bring it up when we get to the lecture on Z.”
Ai’s narration: And I make all overt discussion contributions by students relevant to the conversation we are having, even if they give unexpected responses. One teaching eval comment that I’m proud to have received is “you’re good at making no one look stupid in class” lol.
Top panel: Ai has a comically serious expression and it gesturing to two hand-written example sentences to her left with her left hand. Hand-written text depicting her speech reads, “How can you tell if something is a count noun or mass noun?”. The example sentences read: (first sentence) How many members are in BTS? (second sentence, with an asterisk in front of it) How much member is in BTS?
Ai’s narration: I want my students to see that I’m a human being like them. I intentionally make things I teach related to bits of my life, personality, and interests ---
Bottom panel 1:
Ai’s narration (continued): And I hope that creates a safe space for my students: an environment where they feel like they can have a conversation with me, a conversation that leads to learning.
A young person with short dark hair is holding a smartphone. They look excited. Hand-written text depicting their speech reads, “Ai I found a TikTok where a mass noun is used in an interesting way!”.
Bottom panel 2: This panel is just the narration box with a white background.
Ai’s narration: Ultimately, safety is perhaps what generates the “power of connection”.
Top panel: We see three people. It’s probably Tim, Hafza, and Amina from the L’IMAGE comics. Tim has light skin tone and dark hair that goes right below his chin. Hafza has darker skintone, and has her hair pulled back in a low bun. Amina has light skin and is wearing a hijab and large glasses.
Ai’s narration: I think trust and connection is extremely important in a project like L’IMAGE where participants are being so generous with sharing their experience with the world.
Bottom panel: Ai is seen talking to a person with short combed back hair and a mustache and a beard. It’s probably Mustafa from the L’IMAGE comics. Hand-written text depicting Ai’s speech reads, “Neurotypical tell me my emails are long!!”.
Ai’s narration: During my “interviews” with the participants, I really, really listened to their stories as I always do, and I shared stores about myself, too.
Top panel: Decorative background and narration boxes.
Ai’s narration: My RA came up with a list of question we could ask our participants during their interview, partially based on interview scripts created by Naomi Nagy in her Heritage Language Variation and Change Project. (https://ngn.artsci.utoronto.ca/hlvc/2_2_linguists.php) We gave our participants the questions ahead of time.
Bottom panel 1:
Ai’s narration: Here are the major questions that guided the interviews:
We see an enumerated list of questions.
What languages do you know, and how did you come to know each one?
In what contexts do you use each language?
What feelings do you have towards each of your languages?
What are some positive aspects of being multilingual?
What kinds of challenges have you had with respect to your multilingualism?
What misconceptions do people have about the languages you know?
What do you want people to know about you and the languages you know?
Bottom panel 2: Ai and her RA Haili are seend talking to a person with long, wavy, light-colored hair. It’s probably Sofiia from the L’IMAGE comics. Sofiia is holding her smartphone and is seen saying, “Have you seen this Ukrainian app?!”. Ai and Haili have a comical expression of amazement and are saying “wooow”.
Ai’s narration: The list of questions helped structure the interview and I was mindful about certain details that I definitely needed to get for the comics, but generally, the “interview” was an informal conversation! We often (happily) went off on tangents (smiley face emoticon).
Top panel: Bottom right of the panel shows a citation. Labov, W. 1984. Field Methods of the project on linguistic change and variation. In J. Baugh & J. Sherzer (Eds). Language in Use. Englewood Cliffs, NH: Prentice Hall.
Ai’s narration: That sociolinguistic interviews of this sort are best done in a conversational tone and that you need to show genuine interest in the conversation is not a new idea (see e.g., Labov 1984), but I think L”IMAGE is an interesting case where this kind of research method helps with the public communication of linguistics and lived linguistic experiences.
Bottom panel: Ai is smiling with her eyes squinted and mouth open to the reader. She is making a peace sign with her right hand.
Ai’s narration: Thanks fo reading! Next time, let me tell you about the role expert consultants in this project.
Text at the bottom right reads: “See you next time!”
Page title: About the L’IMAGE project
Project PI and comic artist: Ai Taniguchi, Assistant Professor, UTM Department of Language Studies
Research Assistant: Haili Su, MA Student, UTSG Department of Linguistics
Special thanks to: Gilbert Lin, Assistant Director, Intercultural & Global Initiatives, UTM International Education Centre
With the generous support of: UofT International Student Experience Fund, UTM Department of Language Studies, UTM International Education Centre
Learn more: http://www.lingcomics.com
Bottom right of page shows the University of Toronto Mississauga logo and the University of Toronto logo.