Introduction and InterestsLinks
Orville Boyd Jenkins
"Where Am I From?"
I often hesitate when people ask me that question, because I am not sure what they mean. Not that I am not from anywhere. I did not just appear one day, and I was not dropped here by aliens – as far as I know. But I'm sure there are alternative opinions about that. But what do people have in mind, what does an individual expect when that question is asked?
I have lived outside the US, where I grew up, for most of my adult life. So when folks in the US ask me, I don't know if they mean which US state did I come from, or do they mean am I from Canada? (Yes, I have been asked that!) Maybe they want to know which US city I lived in before I showed up in their domain.
If I am in Tanzania, they probably mean what European country am I from, maybe where I was born, maybe what tribe I was born into, which language was my native language or maybe where my original ancestors came from. They will tell me about their origin and migration legends, and assume I have one too. Most will assume I am not a citizen or permanent resident of their country or a neighboring African one.
In the US, I may be speaking at a university, or a church, about cross-cultural experiences, or about working with churches in another culture. So the speaker probably means, where did I live and work overseas.
When I am in UK, they probably mean which state of the US am I from. Since, if we have exchanged one utterance or more, they will perceive I am American, or at least North American.
In the southern US, they mean which part of the North or West am I from, because I don't sound southern. In the Northeast or upper midwest, thay may mean which southern state am I from, because I sure do sound like a southerner to them! So people assume certain contexts when they ask where you are from.
In a French-speaking situation, I have been asked if I am from France, or in France, which overseas territories I am from.
I was born in Oklahoma, and grew up in North Texas. I learned Spanish as a child, and have retained my second language and fluency in it. My brother, a Spanish professor, and I both have native Spanish accents, alongside our native English accents. But oddly enough, due to our varying experiences and influences we have somewhat different accents!
I have retained a warm association with my early Spanish language identity. In the last decade or so, my fluency has suffered somewhat, since I have lived in foreign contexts with little use of Spanish, and working in various other languages.
Until the last 10-12 years, I was able to retain my Spanish and enter in quickly into Spanish communities and setting when back in the US. I am regaining that now after moving back to Texas in early 2009.
My English accent has developed, as for most bicultural people, as I have related and lived in various countries, to a more common standard or generic “American” accent, with may usages or terminology or structure learned and needed over the decades of living in international situations.
I have similarly been told by native French speakers that I have a native French accent, though in recent years, I can feel Anglo edges coming through at points.
I have used French since I began teaching myself in about the 7th grade. This was my minor subject in my BA studies, and I took French teacher training, and served as a French tutor in early years. I have also worked in French, in the linguistic and professional level, and in Islamic studies, in which the most resources tend to be in French.
I lived about 36 years in countries outside the US, mostly in Kenya, most recently in South Africa, with time in between in Cyprus and an international assignment in Virginia. I consider myself primarily from Texas, and secondarily “from” Kenya, where I lived for 25 years.
I have studied or analyzed about 55 languages from different continents, becoming conversant in many of these to various degrees of fluency. I have lived overseas for about 38 years.
In several venues I have taught advanced phonetics, linguistic analysis and self-directed language learning techniques. I have taught methods of linguistic and phonetic analysis and language and culture learning.
I have established language and culture learning programs in several countries of Africa, and consulted with various agencies and educational institutions in several continents. I developed self-evaluation and other-evaluation approaches and instruments for adult language and culture learning in cross-cultural community settings. [See How To Learn a Language and a Culture]
I have two earned doctorates in linguistics, specializing in Bantu languages and ethnic worldview studies. My websites are my primary credentials, indicating my major areas of research and resources in the areas of Culture, Language and Worldview. In my family and hobby life this also entails family genealogy, a focused study in ethnic history!
Thoughts and Resources (Language, Culture, Ethnicity and Religion)
Ideas and Interests (Music, Science, Travel, Life)
My Genealogy Site
I have taught languages and language-learning methods for decades, focusing on adult cross-cultural communicators learning languages in a foreign language community. The participants have been natives of many languages and countries, including Africans learning other African languages.
I enjoy interacting through this website and other virtual venues with peoples of all ages, interests, backgrounds and cultures around the world.
*** OBJ Summary Introduction More OBJ Info ***
Dr. Obiwan's Computing History So Many Opportunities in One Lifetime
So Many Languages, So Little Time My Life in Quanah
Originally written in reply to an email query 03 May 2011
Developed 7 May 2011; finalized and posted 29 June 2011
Orville Boyd Jenkins, EdD, PhD
Copyright © 2007 Orville Boyd Jenkins
Permission granted for free download and transmission for personal or educational use. Other rights reserved.