Language is fluid, and today’s New Yorkers grapple with the challenges and joys of living in a diverse and constantly changing environment.

Our team set out to find the latest iterations of languages around the five boroughs. We encountered Liberian immigrants on Staten Island determined to keep their linguistic heritage alive through code-switching. We show English-speaking parents who want to raise multicultural children by teaching them foreign languages. We met the American Sign Language community, one that speaks a visual language, and one that is fighting for expression in more than one way. We looked at the dynamic language of New York graffiti and the ways that the Internet is changing how people learn languages.

We capture a linguistic moment in New York, soon to give way to new influences and pressures, but nonetheless crucial in the cultural history of our city.

On this site, you can explore how New Yorkers are Learning, Keeping, Sharing and Losing language.


Alex Abad-Santos, Carla Candia, Krissy Dolor, Megan Finnegan, Emily Johnson, Shane Dixon Kavanaugh, Suyeon Kim, Kerri MacDonald, Musikilu Mojeed, Khristina Narizhnaya, Joe Tacopino, Mitch Trinka, Peggy Truong

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