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    The Social Life of Language

    by  • February 5, 2020 • 2019-2020 Provost Digital Innovation Grant Winners, Digital GC, Provost's Digital Innovation Grants, Uncategorized

    Project Name: The Social Life of Language

    Grantee: Michael Mena

    Discipline: Linguistic Anthropology

    Funding Cycle: 2019-2020

    Project Status: In progress

    White Paper:


    About the Project:


    The Social Life of Language is an open-access educational YouTube channel designed to bring complex theoretical academic work on language into the realm of public discourse—covering research from linguistic anthropology, applied linguistics, and sociolinguistics—in a way that is simple, but never simplified. Each video guides viewers through an individual publication (peer-reviewed journal article or book chapter) in a linguistic register accessible to a general public in a style that is entertaining, quick-paced, and conversational. Each video is aimed at an undergraduate/graduate student audience and intentionally presents individual publications in isolation for easy insertion into any class syllabi about language, race, bilingualism, inequality and social theory. The Social Life of Language channel has garnered (inter-)national recognition with over 51,000 views and over 4,200 hours of “watch time.” Videos have been used in public and digital forums and are being assigned in course syllabi at the Graduate Center and CUNY undergraduate campuses (but, also across the United States, Canada, and various European countries). For his service on this channel, Mike Mena, was nominated for the “Award for Public Outreach and Community Service” in September 2019 offered by the Society for Linguistic Anthropology (pending final decision). In October 2019, The Social Life of Language was recognized by the keynote speaker at the “Empowered Scholarship” conference hosted by the Ford Foundation. This YouTube channel remains committed to illustrating to students (and the general public) that we can better understand society and social inequality by analyzing how we think and talk about language—indeed, by understanding the “social life of language.”