Research Project: "Me goofing around": Representing the Other in Smokahontas’ Video on Languages

Project leader
Marjut Johansson, School of Languages and Translation Studies University of Turku
Project Members
Mariya Aida Niendorf
Sylvia Akar, University of Helsinki
Angela Bartens, University of Turku
Melissa Garavini, University of Turku
Siiri-Maija Heino, University of Turku
Nobufumi Inaba, University of Turku
Tommi Kurki, University of Turku
Pekka Lintunen, University of Turku
Enrique Lucena Torres, University of Turku
Eve Mikone, University of Turku
Maarit Mutta, University of Turku
Eeva-Liisa Nyqvist, University of Helsinki
Sari Östman, University of Turku
Maxwell Philips, University of Bern
Mia Raitaniemi, University of Turku
Johanna Viimaranta, University of Turku
Wenli Zhu, University of Turku
Project Period
Project Status
A young Finnish vlogger, Smokahontas, alias Smo, posted a video called What Languages Sound Like to Foreigners on her YouTube Channel “Smokahontas Official” on March 3, 2014. The video—based on several language imitations—went viral instantaneously. Its imitations represent 15 different languages or mock languages: Finnish, Swedish, Estonian, a Slavic language, French, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, British English, Japanese, American English, Hindi, Arabic, a language called “I Don’t Even Know,” and East Asian. The video gives an impression of a humorous piece of vlogging introducing Smo to a worldwide audience. Her vlogger identity is twofold: She presents herself as a talented young woman who speaks several languages fluently and/or as a skillful imitator who speaks nonsense or gibberish while portraying various languages. While doing this, she also constructs the identity of the other(s), that is, of the speakers of the different languages she represents through her imitations.
Research Profile
Intercultural Studies