To support local artists and designers during COVID-19, the Askwith Kenner Global Languages and Cultures Room created the Micro-Commissions Project. We invited eight CMU students and local Pittsburgh artists to create artworks to be displayed within the room and on a new digital projection installation on the glass wall near the front of the room. Artists were inspired by our themes of language, culture, identity, and personal stories. Each artist had the freedom to choose any medium.
“Idioms Around The World” by Jubbies
Today, we would like to introduce “Idioms Around The World” by Jubbies. Jubbies was inspired by her mother who is a German immigrant and English as a Second Language teacher.
“I love when she is passionately exclaiming about something and a phrase slips her lips in English that I cannot make sense of. After some investigation, it quickly becomes clear that the phrase is a literally translated colloquialism or idiom from her native language. Even if her translation of the idiom is grammatically perfect, since I do not know the cultural references, they mean nothing to me until she explains them. These moments always remind me that language is so much more than utilitarian, but it actually can embody complex, poetic, beautiful, and culturally specific interpretations of the world. The more I learn about language, the more I appreciate it in itself as a powerful tool that allows its users to travel time and space and to tell beautiful stories of its history.”
Jubbies further expressed, “Our cultural, familial, and personal experiences mold the way we make sense of the world. We observe and analyze our surroundings using the cultural reference points we have been exposed to. In sharing and discussing our different perspectives of the world, you can expand your reference points and therefore your toolbox in problem-solving. I believe idioms are a fantastic entry point into specific cultural viewpoints because they inherently rely on culturally specific experiences, they are short, and generally amusing. We might take for granted the stories that idioms encapsulate, but once we realize how insightful they can be, we can start to see how intertwined culture and language are and ultimately how language is so much more than a one-dimensional utility. More than this, by sharing how something as mundane as an idiom can be so insightful, I hope to spark curiosity in viewers, encouraging them to think about what other common things hold immense cultural value.”