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Study of a Polyglot - My Dad

I’m Jeremy Truong and this is my Lin 1 Term Project. I’ll discuss about various linguistics subjects that we’ve learned, while observing my dad’s linguistic background. I’ll touch on IPA, linguistic relativity, and more. All self-made videos & audio.

Jeremy Truong

on 19 March 2014

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Transcript of Study of a Polyglot - My Dad

My dad has conversational skill in 5 languages. The degree of fluency in each varies. Having been raised in Vietnam as a bilingual in Vietnamese and Cantonese, his French and English grammar is compromised. Much like Professor Chen's observations of futured and futureless languages, my dad speaks about the past and present in the same tense most of the time.
He uses a Vietnamese accent to speak in English and French, perhaps signifying that his dominant language is Vietnamese. However, he speaks Cantonese with few Vietnamese distinguishers. His Mandarin is spoken with a Cantonese accent.
It seems that my dad is truly fluent in Cantonese and Vietnamese, and needs time to mentally translate into other languages.
In this video, I will ask my dad some questions in multiple languages regarding his background and how he sees his identity.
Identifies as American with strong traditional Chinese roots.
Responds more confidently in Cantonese, Mandarin, and Vietnamese.
By observation, from most fluent to least fluent is: 1) Cantonese 2) Vietnamese 3) Mandarin 4) English 5) French
My dad seldom admits his Vietnamese bloodline. His dad was half-Vietnamese. In general, his peers regard Chinese as more prestigious. He tries his best to defend his background, while still taking advantage of the 'prestigious' status of being Chinese.
How his knowledge in one language influences another
He speaks Cantonese, Mandarin, & Vietnamese confidently. These languages do not have verb conjugations. Therefore in most cases, he tends to keep French and English sentences in simple present tense, even when referring to the past.
My Dad's accent
Code switching
Perhaps this code-switching instance occurred because I asked him to think in multiple languages in one sitting. Nonetheless since this was a dialogue between father and son, he was understood just fine. In any normal day, this is typical in our family.
Meet my father, Jason Truong.
He has lived in Asia, Europe, & USA.
Ethnically Chinese & Vietnamese
Born in Vietnam
Lived in Hong Kong for 2 years
Lived in France for 9 years

He speaks 5 languages
Cantonese Chinese
Mandarin Chinese
French Conversation
Notice the verb conjugations!
Study of a Polyglot - My Dad
LIN 1 Project |
Jeremy Truong | Winter 2014

Zhang1 Xin4qun2
Phrase spoken:
Standard pronunciation compared with his pronunciation:
Je m'appelle
IPA Sources:

omits retroflex
nasalization of 'l'
replaces voiceless retroflex affricate
-My dad employs a Southern Chinese accent with Mandarin. Typically, Southern accents will omit any retroflex sounds.
-My dad's French carries a Vietnamese accent. No Vietnamese words that end with "l" exist. Replacing 'l' with 'n' makes it easier for my dad.
-My dad's village is known for their unusual Vietnamese dialect. Vietnamese speakers from Ben Tre will read "tr" with an aspirated t sound, instead of a voiceless retroflex affricate.

Side Project
Discovering Chinese/Korean cognates with language exchange friend.
*turn on captions!*

Introduction of Inhwan Kim:
Full transcript