Research Project: "Me goofing around": Representing the Other in Smokahontas’ Video on Languages
Marjut Johansson, School of Languages and Translation Studies University of Turku
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
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.