SALISBURY, MD---As a child growing up in Africa, Disney’s classic Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs left an indelible impression on Dr. Anjali Pandey, new English Department linguist at Salisbury University. Her early fascination with animation became an adult passion as she studied how language is used to both define character and create variegated worlds – even within seemingly simple children’s stories.
This ultimately led to her developing a comprehensive research study that chronicles the use of language and dialects in animated feature movies from the 1930s to the present. For this work she recently won the Henry C. Welcome Fellowship by the Maryland’s Higher Education Commission. She plans to use her award ($20,000) to expand her study.
Like Pandey’s fascination with animated films, her passion for linguistics is deeply rooted in her childhood; she was raised in Africa, primarily Zambia and Nigeria, countries that boast over 400 languages. Born in Asmara, Ethiopia, now Eritrea, Pandey came to the United States 11 years ago to study at the University of Illinois at Chicago where she received a master’s degree in teaching English as a second language (ESL). She eventually earned both a second master’s and a Ph. D. in applied linguistics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In 1997, she began her first teaching position at North Dakota State University.
Pandey is fluent in both English and Hindi, her parents’ native tongue, and also has extensive knowledge of several other languages, many from Africa. Along with teaching writing courses in ESL and introduction to language studies, Pandey is continuing her research on the linguistic bases of prejudice in animation. She also plans to develop a multi-media learning kit designed to help children become more critically aware of the media’s effect on shaping linguistic and social attitudes, as part of her studies.
"The research being done by my colleagues has set a very high standard,” she added. “I’m impressed with the professionalism in the English Department here and I look forward to contributing to its growth and success.”
Pandey hopes to foster similar interests in her students by challenging them to consider language as more than just something they use everyday. A guest or visiting professor at four other American institutions, Pandey has found throughout her extensive travels around the world and in the U.S. that students, for the most part, are the same.
I’d like my students to gain more of an appreciation for what language is and how it works,” said Pandey. “They will rise to the mark you set. I’ve learned a great deal of patience and humility from my years of teaching because in my career students have consistently come up with insights that are completely amazing.”