By: Stefany Olivas, Staff Reporter
Photo By: Jyllian Roach, Managing Editor
Linguistic anthropology with Shep Jenks
Liberal Arts major David Adcock said he recommends taking Language, Culture and the Human Animal with full-time instructor Shepherd Jenks.
“The thing I enjoy is he wants you to engage and talk to people about the subject matter. I’ve always had a profound interest in Anthropology, and particularly in language. He stokes that fire,” said Adcock.
Students are expected to do work outside of class, so when they arrive for the period, it is based mostly on discussions, and it is not “death by PowerPoint,” said Adcock.
Jenks said he occasionally invites guest speakers to the class, and last week he brought in Black Out Theatre troupe performer Lauren Poole, also known as Lynette from the viral internet video “Shit Burqueños say.”
“No one wants an instructor to stand in front of the class and read from the text in a monotone. There are so many things in our community that connect with our class topics. The special thing about Anthropology is it’s so relevant to everyone’s lives,” said Jenks.
He said making these connections for the students is really important. It’s not just about memorizing the material and doing the test. It deepens the education they get.
Jenks, Poole, and the students discussed various topics inspired by the character of Lynette like accents, jargon, colloquialisms, paralanguage, gestures and stereotypes.
There are many things that make the videos unusual and special because although there is personal experience incorporated, it is essentially made up, said Jenks.
The character highlights larger aspects such as metaphors people use like ‘close the light,’ have really become a part of average American language, said Jenks.
“Whatever region in the country, people celebrate their unusualness. Negative stereotypes happen, like dumb rednecks or dumb New Mexicans, but there is nothing to be ashamed of. Everyone speaks with an accent. It’s our culture and who we are,” said Jenks.
Lauren Poole said she enjoyed discussing the different aspects of how Lynette speaks and acts because people in New Mexico can seem so different.
When they made the character of Lynette they were not necessarily trying to make the video about New Mexicans and the way they speak, said Poole. Then one day a director of the troupe encouraged them to make videos similar to those commonly found called ‘shit girls say,’ and do a version of ‘Burqueñoisms’ and ‘New Mexicanisms’ so they pursued it, said Poole.
“For so long it was important for a person to speak a certain dialect in order to sound ‘educated.’ They want them to speak to erase their accents. So it’s always been perceived that people with accents weren’t as smart,” said Poole.
Poole said it was disappointing to see comments left on the “Shit Burqueños say” video, assuming New Mexicans were dumb because of their gestures and accents.
“One thing I like about Lynette is people think Cholas are mean, scary, and rude but she’s actually smart, silly, and happy. She’s not a jerk walking around and stealing things,” said Poole.
She said there is not much acting involved when she plays the character of Lynette because she is a part of Poole’s personality in real life.
“Some people were like, ‘she white and she’s pretending to be Mexican’. No I wasn’t, I was being New Mexican. She is based off of multiple people I’ve met in my life and some of them are white and we talk like that too because we’re New Mexican too,” said Poole.
She said her New Mexican accent comes and goes depending on who she is with and where she is at. “Speech patterns shift. Sometimes I don’t have one. Then if I absorb it back from somewhere, and I’ll be like ‘eee!’ Lynette is my code-switch. She’s kind of not a fake character,” said Poole.