Hi, my name is Samuel Marticotte.
I grew up in on the north-shore of Quebec, speaking French in an area where it is spoken by over 90% of the population. As I grew up, I picked up some English in school, in video games, on the internet, but only really learned it later when I started working in the navy in Halifax, N-S and Victoria, B-C. After a year of software engineering, I stopped my studies to go to Japan, where I became somewhat fluent in Japanese over the course of nine months; travelling, working in a restaurant and helping an elderly woman with her farm work. When I came back to university, I changed program for one in which I could study two modern languages. I decided to keep studying Japanese and chose Russian as a second language. On my second year, I did a nine-month exchange program in Russia where I had the occasion to improve my reading and listening abilities. Upon my return I was not perfectly fluent orally, but I could read novels and translate literature from French or English. Upon completion of my B.A and certificate in Russian Studies, I was chosen to participate in the JET program. I left for Japan and taught in an elementary school for two years. In Japan, I worked in Japanese, every week explaining to my coworkers lesson plans, and engaged with friends and the local community, sometimes in the local dialect (Kansai-ben), sometimes in standard “Tokyo” Japanese, a more polite variety of the language. When I returned to Canada, I moved to Montreal and started the M.A. in second language education I’m actually in. Being at McGill is an interesting experience, because it is my first long-term experience in an “English community” in Canada.
One of the sociolinguistics question I have always been fascinated by is: What is my accent? In French, in English, in Japanese? I don’t know where to start to answer this question. I often ask native speakers and the answer never satisfies me. For example, since I was exposed mainly to both Canadian and American English, which one is it closer to? It is obviously not British or Australian!? Is it only just “accented”? Am I using Canadian expressions? Same for French: when am I using a more local version of the language? Am I sometimes using different varieties of French? Is my French more like the standard “Quebec dialect” or closer to the dialect spoken in the northern region I grew up in? I find all those questions fascinating, I hope to find some new ways to answer these questions through this course!