Dear Dean Forman,

As a new school year approaches, I know that the University is looking for new things to integrate into the Creating Emory curriculum. I would like to suggest an article that would do an amazing job of complimenting the initiative of Creating Emory, and this article is “Why People Code Switch.” This article, which would be read and then discussed by each orientation group. As opposed to most of the discussions that take place in Creating Emory on different cultures and they way they interact, this article investigates how the same culture interacts with itself. By reflecting on the reasons behind code-switching, students become more awake of the social pressures we all face to speak or act in certain ways. After all, how are students supposed to truly understand and be open to all of the different cultures around them when they do not even understand their own? My hope is that through work-shopping this article, that students will become awake of the misconceptions they have of those around them, not necessarily because they prejudiced or ignorant, but because they are aware of the social pressures affecting those around them to speak and act differently than how they truly are. Maybe after a little bit of enlightenment and awareness of the code-switching phenomenon, students will not only have a better understanding of those around them, but also become aware of the times they code-switch due to social pressures and be fearless enough to challenge the social norm, speak and act how they want to. A more aware community is one that is able to embrace its true self.

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Marketing without Consequence

The chemical saccharin has not changed much since it was first discovered in the late 1900s. Today’s saccharin is almost chemically identical to the original substance. However, when looking at the product through a social lens, one will see that saccharin has been put through a rollercoaster of public opinion. During the twentieth century, the vacillating American opinion on sugar substitute—its health risks, its health benefits, and its economic benefits—launched the product into the forefront of the nation’s attention and scrutiny. Many of the fluctuations in saccharin sales were due to the events occurring in the country at the time: wars, social movements, et cetera. By the late twentieth century, it would have been difficult to find a circular not announcing discounts on saccharin, pills, liquid, or powdered. Due to its strong ties to American culture, saccharin advertisements came to reflect the events and mindsets surrounding the nation during their respective time period.

During the sugar shortage of World War I, many saccharin advertisements focused on the patriotism of purchasing the substance. One particular advertisement found in the October 24, 1919 issue of The Washington Post, boasts the headline “SACCHARIN—THE PUREST OF ALL SWEETENERS—IS RELIEVING THE SUGAR SITUATION” (Classified Ad 1). The ad immediately throws credibility at the reader, claiming that it is not only a sweetener, but it is superior to all others. The ad—which is simple, box-shaped, linearly structured—then goes to read that not only is saccharin a supernal sweetener, but also it is patriotic product, “aid[ing] to American health and economy” (Classified Ad 1). Much like many other advertisements during this particular time period, the logos of the advertisement appeals to American patriotism, explaining how this product will end up helping the war effort, assuming that the reader is both in support of the war effort and wanting to support the country in any way possible. Claiming that buying sugar substitute is supporting the war effort and the American economy, however, is a stretch to say the least, but given the mindset of the period, this classified was probably very effective.

After World War II—and the respective sugar shortage that came with it as well—saccharin evolved from being purely a sugar substitute to a diet regiment around the time that dieting became popular in the United States. In a 1958 issue of the Los Angeles Times, a saccharin advertisement was strategically placed next to two ladies’ fashion pictures. The saccharin bulletin—which is clearly aimed at females explaining that the company’s upgraded saccharin is perfect for “cooking, canning, baking too” (Display Ad)—assumes women seeing the adjacent advertisements will feel a want to look like the models in the picture. Chauvinistic, shallow-minded, but sadly accurate, this particular posting is expertly placed and worded. At the time in American history when dieting was just becoming popular and women were striving to look like the models pictured, an easy, cheap way to cut calories is conveniently next to their goal. The way it is laid out, it appears as if saccharin is the precursor to the skinny bodies that the models possess.

Not too long after the second ad mentioned was published was the American Feminist movement, which caused advertisements to veer away from appealing to women dieting and to general dieting instead. A classic example was published in a 1970 issue of the New York Times. This particular classified still boasts the no calorie advantages of saccharin; however, it instead addresses its audience as “dieters!” (Classified Ad 369). This ad, which did not have any other paid advertisements surrounding it, focuses on the health benefits of its saccharin-based products, the delicious taste, and even medical benefits of using their saccharin hot chocolate and milk shake mixes. The only pictures displayed are of a mug of hot cocoa and glass filled with what is presumably a milk shake. Because of the Feminist Movement occurring that the time, the publishers strategically made the decision to omit any gender bias.

Nowadays, the saccharin ads of the early to mid-twentieth century seem plain, unflashy. When the bulletins are put into the context of the time period they were published in, however, it becomes apparent that obnoxious, attention grabbing, flash-appeal was not needed when the words and placements used were so heavily significant. Saccharin was already deeply rooted into American culture, which caused a dilemma for advertisers. Marketers did not need to announce what their product was, but needed to convince consumers why they needed to buy more product. The answer to the advertisers’ problems lied in the politics of America. Armed with the current issues of their time, these marketers were able to produce advertisements with incredibly strong pathos. Much like saccharin, which was sweetness without consequence, this marketing technique was advertising without social consequence.

Works Cited

“Classified Ad 1 — No Title.” The Washington Post (1877-1922) 24 Oct. 1919: 10. ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The Washington Post (1877-1997). Web. 1 Dec. 2014. <https://login.proxy.library.emory.edu/login?url=http://search.proquest.com.proxy.library.emory.edu/docview/145724200?accountid=10747&gt;. Copyright – Copyright The Washington Post Company Oct 24, 1919 Last updated – 2010-05-29

“Classified Ad 369 — No Title.” New York Times (1923-Current File) 08 Mar. 1970: 1. ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times (1851-2010). Web. 1 Dec. 2014. <https://login.proxy.library.emory.edu/login?url=http://search.proquest.com.proxy.library.emory.edu/docview/119105899?accountid=10747&gt;. Copyright – Copyright New York Times Company Mar 8, 1970 Last updated – 2010-05-24

“Display Ad 22 — No Title.” Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) 29 Dec. 1958: 1. ProQuest Historical Newspapers: Los Angeles Times (1881-1990). Web. 1 Dec. 2014. <https://login.proxy.library.emory.edu/login?url=http://search.proquest.com.proxy.library.emory.edu/docview/167375242?accountid=10747&gt;. Copyright – Copyright Times Mirror Company Dec 29, 1958 Last updated – 2010-06-01

The End of “Can I take you to dinner?”

From Widdicombe’s article, it sounds like the living quarters of the Soylent producers sounds like a weird free-for-all, a mixture of ingenious enginuity and penurious living styles. I would make a movie following the lives of one of the Soylent team workers, probably Dave Renteln. This movie would take on a Social Network type feel, showing the behind the scenes behind something that (potentially) will change our culture as a whole. The premise of the movie would be to follow Dave. This movie would very briefly start out when the team members are broke, and surviving off who knows what. Imagine the innumerable people that would be able to relate to being beyond broke. After showing their living situation, and showing just how little money these people have, we follow Dave, who Widdicombe describes as the Harvard rugby hunk of the team. Dave would end up meeting a girl, who unlike Dave, has a steady income and is able to fully support herself. The story would follow Dave trying to date this girl while trying to hide his lack of money, showing a funny, quirky, and cute series of making up random dates at the last minute to avoid going out to dinner or going out to Starbucks for a coffee date. Dave would end up living this double life, especially when he and his co-workers end up switching to eating(?) only Soylent. Him and his co-workers have become the ultimate cheapskates. His boss only owns two pairs of pants and avoids washing them by sticking them in the freezer. Needless to say, Dave, with his double life, will end up having difficulty hiding the life-style that him and his friends lead.

The way that the people in Widdicombe’s article live is so ridiculous it is to the point where is is almost humorous. Take that life-style and pair it with the right situation, and the product is an awkward result that audiences would be able to laugh at, and maybe even relate to from when they were broke themselves. This movie would be lighthearted and humorous, a perfect combination for a romantic combination.

Tactile Object

I originally wasn’t planning on presenting today in class. I had read the blog prompt; I had thought about different words that I could do for the project; I had originally decided against going, but then, with a boost of spontaneous courage and open time to do so in class, I proceeded to get up in front of the class and share some of the ideas that had been marinating in my mind. One of the other main contributing factors to me getting up to present was that I had noticed a pattern in the words that had gone before mine: hot, cold, smooth. I found that they all related to my word in some way or another.

The word, or texture, that I thought of was hard. I knew that once I shared that word with the class it would produce snickers, but I didn’t want to take my presentation in the mind-in-the-gutter route. I got the idea for the word when I was lying in bed (which, thanks to my mattress topper, isn’t hard) scrolling through my Yik Yak feed, and reading about how hard the most recent orgo midterm was, which got me to thinking. When we think about a surface that’s hard, it’s not comfortable; it doesn’t give, and if you fall on a hard surface, it’s going to hurt. However, when people were talking about this orgo midterm, it was hard in the sense that it was difficult, the test was unforgiving. This is where the connection to previous words comes in because before thinking about the connections to the words hot, cold, and smooth, I had only thought about these two definitions. With the word hot, I began to think of the phrase “hot-headed,” and I proceeded to assume that someone who was hot-headed would also have hard features. They wouldn’t be a friendly person, and his/her face would be rather stern. With the word cold, I thought about someone who is cold-hearted. A cold-hearted person would have a hard personality (I’ve heard this phrase before, although I have a feeling that it’s not that common) and, I’m assuming, hard to get along with as well. The last connection that I made was to smooth. When Phil was talking about having a smooth drink, I couldn’t help but think of a hard drink. Ironically enough, most of the drinks that he described, whiskey or rum, as being smooth are also considered hard drinks.

Steeping back, all these variations on hard seem to have a theme of unwelcoming, discomfort, and unforgivingness. By realizing the connotations associated with the word “hard,” we are able to understand on a deeper level whenever we read or heard something described as hard. Instead of just understanding on a pure feeling or aesthetic basis, we can understand on also a societal one as well.

How Research Impacted My Life

I have never really been a fan of studying history. I have either never had a teacher that made the subject interesting, or I have only had teachers that were interesting to hear lectures from, but then ruined the subject for me when they would test us on information I found useless: on the _____ day of _____ in the year of _____ some man named _______ did this. Despite my past history with the subject of history, the subject of research that most impacted my life was in the field of history.

By decent, I am Russian, Austrian, and Polish. In eighth grade, I had to find that out for an immigration project. That project required us to find out which countries our ancestors emigrated from, what decade they did, and what was the reasoning behind their immigration to the United States. As my research showed, my great-great-great grandparents all left their home countries due to the Pogroms. What does this have to do with anything? Quite frankly, up until the summer before my senior year of high school, I would have told you that that fact was irrelevant: that it had no major importance or meaning in my life.

The summer before my senior year of high school, I travelled to Europe. While I was there, I not only did the usual tourist things like going to see the Eiffel Tour or the Leaning Tower of Pisa, but I also did some of my own research on the history of the Jewish people in those countries. I studied the movement of Jews across Europe as they would settle in one place, only to be kicked out in a couple hundred years once a ruler was in place that was anti-Semitic. I toured Ann Frank’s house, and was able to view first-hand what it was like for those families hiding in the attic of that house. I visited a Nazi concentration camp. Before having all this information on the history of the people of my religion, I honestly didn’t care whether I came from a Jewish background. Before learning everything I did, Judaism was simply the thing that made me miss school three days a year, made me not eat for an entire day, and was the reason that I got to eat Brisket at Thanksgiving.

Through my research, I can now not only tell you about all the historical scenarios that led up to the Holocaust, the economy of Spain, how prisoners were transported from work and concentration camps and then on to the more famous death camps, or about the different rulers of Italy’s views on the Jewish people, but I also have a personal connection to the information I gained. Though my research might not have changed my views on higher powers or the more religious side of Judaism, I now understand why I still tell people that I’m Jewish. There’s a culture that I forgot about, and with all the persecution that that culture has faced over the years, I learned why it’s so important to keep it.

2014 Crime Solving

Though my view on today’s crime solving methods might be skewed by what I see on Law and Order, CSI, or NCIS, I do actually have some real-world knowledge on the science behind modern day crime solving (I took a class on forensic science as an elective in high school, who knew it would come in handy?). Ever since the 1980s, when DNA analysis established itself as a major crime-solving tool, a lot of the evidence used in criminal cases has become much more scientific. Even though DNA analysis gets most of the credit on television, modern-day investigators rely more heavily on other methods in order to get a full picture of what happened at a crime scene. Though DNA is able to link a perpetrator directly to a crime, investigators only have access to DNA from past convicted felons or samples that were willingly taken from suspects to work with, leaving their database limited. Fingerprint analysis, which also gets a lot of credit in movies and TV shows, has the exact same limitations.

Instead, modern day investigators rely heavily on making an objective picture and story line behind a crime scene. For example, though the investigators might not be able to link a hair at a crime scene directly to a person, they are able to determine whether a hair is actually a hair or is rather a fiber from an article of clothing, if a hair/fiber is from an animal (including humans) or if it is synthetic, if a hair is dyed, and much more. Though rather sickening, forensic scientists use what are called body farms in order to investigate how the human body decays under different conditions. The scientists use cadavers that have been donated to the cause and leave them in different scenarios—buried/not buried, clothed/naked, young/old, for example—to observe what happens to the bodies over time. This way, when a body is discovered, the investigators are able to have an accurate time of death. Investigators also rely heavily on the physics behind injuries, splatters, broken items found at the scene, et cetera.

However, forensic science can unfortunately only do so much. It does not prove motive or necessarily find all necessary suspects. My class did not go into the rest of the investigative process, although, I would assume that it involves a lot of interviewing, and connecting the victim’s life to the evidence found. After all, the majority of crimes are committed by someone known by the victim. To a certain extent, modern day crime solving and Sherlock’s methods are not too different since they require large amounts of deduction.

The Disappearance of Genuine Interaction

            Today, with my eyes glued to my iPhone, I obliviously tripped up the stairs. I was buried in my Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, or some social media site in order to see what my 914 “friends” were doing with their lives. The characters from Her are not all that unlike me. Throughout the film, the main, supporting, and background characters are always shown going about their daily lives with an earpiece that they use to communicate with a pocket computer in order to check email, social networking sites, et cetera. These characters are so engulfed by the technology in their life that they scarcely interact with those around them. Ironically enough, Theodore, the protagonist, works for a company called Beautiful Handwritten Letters, where he is paid to electronically write personal letters for customers, posing himself as the customer. Theodore’s job serves, along with the rest of the movie, as an answer to the question: what will happen to human social interaction as technology processes?

Many critics claim that with the expansion of social media, people care more about connecting than genuine emotion or interaction. Theodore’s job parallels this critique. Hand-written letters nowadays are rare and deeply personal items. When someone could easily send a text message, a Facebook message, an email, et cetera, it takes a lot more effort to not only construct the body of the letter but also write out the actual words that make up the content. The letters that Theodore writes, or rather speaks to a word-to-text program, resemble exactly what critics declare is happening to modern-day society. These letters allow the customers to connect to someone else, but because they are not actually written by the supposed sender, the letters do not contain any genuine emotion. Spike Jonze, writer and director of Her, chose to have Theodore work at Beautiful Handwritten Letters not only because they would demonstrate how technological advancement retards human interaction, but also handwritten letters are not ubiquitous enough to be constantly noticed, but sentimental enough to be missed if they disappeared.

As members of the audience, Jonze gave Theodore a job at Beautiful Handwritten Letters because he wanted us to question. What will happen when technology advances? If handwritten letters have become a thing of the past, what else will become completely outdated with technological advancement? Her, as a whole, is supposed to make the audience question the role and impact technology has on society. Personally, Her did not only make me question, but the film also instilled fear. As someone who already trips up stairs because she is too engulfed in technology, I am worried to see human interactions slip nearly into nonexistence as technological dependence increases. I do not want the extent of a friendship to be liking all posts on social media websites. I am not ready for us to become blinded by technology.

Works Consulted

Jonze, Spike, screenwriter. Her. Dir. Spike Jonze. 2013. Film.

Myers, Scott. “Movie Analysis: ‘Her.'” Go Into the Story. N.p., 20 Jan. 2014. Web. 30 Sept. 2014.<http://gointothestory.blcklst.com/&gt;.

Revision

You might have already noticed that you wouldn’t talk to your mom the same way you talk to your best friend However, you might not have noticed in how many different situations you switch the way you speak: diction, tone, emphasis, subject. This phenomenon—of switching between two or more different dialects in conversation—is called code-switching. According to Matt Thompson, there are five main reasons why we, as people, code-switch: switching subconsciously, desiring to fit in, manipulating to get something in return, disguising language so only a select group can understand, and conveying a thought. In the 1959 movie Pillow Talk, the two main characters, Jan Morrow and Brad Allen, get tangled up in a web of code-switching confusion. After souring his relationship with the other member of his party line, Jan Morrow, through a series of pranks, Brad finds himself in a dilemma when he first sees Jan in person. He finds her attractive and is intrigued by his best friend’s interest in Jan, but knows that Jan would recognize his own voice from the prank calls, and re-invents himself as a country-boy from Texas. Brad’s code-switching throughout the film is conspicuous, but Jan secretly and cunningly engages in code-switching herself.

Which one of Thompson’s five reasons does Jan use, you might ask? Unlike Brad, whose motives behind his code-switching are obvious, Jan code-switches in order to get something out of the situation. Throughout the film, Jan finds herself constantly fed up with Brad for always hogging the party line in order to sing an “original” love song to some new young, unknowing girl. During the scenes when she would have to talk to Brad on the phone, Jan’s voice has a distinctive change in tone, switching from one that is light and conversational to shrill and aggressive once she is talking to Brad. One might think that this is an unconscious code-switch, but Jan is using her change in tone in order to achieve something: respect. Some might argue that Jan’s character is simply fulfilling the 1950’s stereotype of an unmarried woman—aggressive, depressed, and unapproachable; however, when you take a closer look at Jan Morrow, the notion of her fulfilling a stereotypical unmarried woman seems illogical. First, let’s examine Jan and Brad’s (when he is being Brad and not Rex) relationship, you would be able to see that Jan feels disrespected by Brad and his blatant disregard of anyone else on the party line. Being a woman—especially a successful, single woman—was not an easy thing in the 1950’s/1960’s, and Jan not only doesn’t seem to be intimidated by being single, but also seems to enjoy it. Jan does not change her tone to be shrill or uptight, but rather is trying to be authoritative. By switching to this tone of voice, Jan is trying to gain Brad’s respect and have him view her as an equal. She feels that if she ever doesn’t use this aggressive front, that she will lose any headway she made in regard to gaining his respect. Morrow is not a stereotype, but rather a strong and resilient feminist.

Analysis of Brad and Jan’s Code-Switches

According to Matt Thompson, there are five main reasons why people code-switch: our brain does it subconsciously, we have a desire to fit in, we want to get something out of the situation, we want to say something that only a select group of people can understand, and we use code-switching to convey a thought. Throughout the day, we become and switch between a myriad of personalities, all because of five main reasons. In the 1959 movie Pillow Talk, the two main characters, Jan Morrow and Brad Allen, get tangled up in a web of code-switching confusion. After souring his relationship with the other member of his party line, Jan Morrow, through a series of pranks, Brad finds himself in a dilemma when he first sees Jan in person. He finds her attractive and is intrigued by his best friend’s interest in Jan, but knows that Jan would recognize his own voice from the prank calls, and re-invents himself as a country-boy from Texas. Throughout the film, both Brad and Jan engage in seemingly unrelated code-switching; however, the motivation behind their dialect changes is driven by the same single reason, to get something out of the situation.

Fairly early into the plot, Brad’s reasoning for code-switching is blatant and conspicuous. He knows that revealing his true identity to Jan would ruin any chance he has of courting Jan or anything else of that nature from her. Hence his constant switches from his normal, bachelor, smooth-talking, New York to a gentlemanly, rural, Texas boy. He has to keep his identity hidden from her in order to get what he wants. Brad, however, very cleverly calls Jan and switches between his two personalities in order for him to reach his goal faster, calling as Brad in order to lower Jan’s expectations, and then following up as Rex Stetson, who is able to profit off of Jan’s new expected view of Rex, making himself seem even more the gentleman.

Poor Jan Morrow is sadly stuck at the other end of Brad’s ruse; however, he isn’t the only one with a hidden agenda. Throughout the film, Jan finds herself constantly fed up with Brad for always hogging the party line in order to sing an “original” love song to some new young, unknowing girl. During the scenes when she would have to talk to Brad on the phone, her voice has a distinctive change in tone, switching from one that is conversational or amiable to terse and aggressive once she is talking to Brad. Though this might seem like an unconscious code-switch, Jan does have something that she wants to achieve from her code-switch. Jan feels disrespected by Brad and his blatant disregard of anyone else on the party line. Being a woman—especially a successful, single woman—was not an easy thing in the 1950s/1960s. By changing to this more authoritative tone, Jan is trying to gain Brad’s respect and have him view her as an equal. She feels that if she puts down this aggressive front, that she will lose any headway she made in regard to gaining his respect.

Throughout Pillow Talk, Jan Morrow and Brad Allen are posed as two very different characters; however, they both code-switch, ironically, for the same reason. They both pose as a different personalities, a tool they use in a selfish manner. Brad and Jan, however, are not alone. Code-switching is a reality of everyday life, though it might not happen in as humorous of a manner as in Pillow Talk. Hidden agenda or subconscious change in speech, we all code-switch, and as shown in Pillow Talk, code-switching sure does make life more interesting.