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Relationship de Palabras

By Damaris Chanza


I’ve always been fascinated with words and language. I even wrote my college entrance essay on how language and culture are not inherently connected. When I noticed my mother’s accent get stronger after coming home from work, I knew this was a topic I wanted to look into further. I quickly realized that my entire family does this including myself. Because of this I wanted to see how language and words affect each person in my family.


Methods & Process

I started by observing my own words. I used my observations of my voice to create guiding interview questions to ask the members of my family. I interviewed them each individually. I soon realized that my family didn’t feel comfortable answering questions so I just spoke to them. I noticed similar topics, problems and even specific phrases come up with each one of us.


Form & Content

When editing the audio together, I wanted all of us to sound like we were in conversation with one another. My voice is heard both in voiceover to frame the video as well as in the interview clips. I think the duplicity of my voice in the video works with the duplicity of language used in my house within the members of my family. I also referred to myself by my first name and my nickname but my family is only referred to by their nicknames. The viewer does not get any information of what their first names are. Their names are lost words just like the words that we don’t know how to say when speaking in either language.


An unexpected discovery was how the oldest generation, my parents, felt more affected than the younger ones. My siblings found their bilingual vocabulary so normal that they didn’t even find it all that interesting to talk about or even investigation worthy. On the other hand, my parents, two people who grew up in other countries, had a lot to say about the ways language affected them. They felt that their accents and the importance of their bilingual vocabulary was woven into everything they say and everything they do. It didn’t make it into the documentary, but there was a lot of talk about what it means to be a gringo and why that term is so relevant. The definition changed so much from my mom, the oldest person in my family, and my brother, the youngest person in my family.

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