Over 60% of the world and 20% of the US population speak more than one language. Bilingual speakers are known for fluidly switching between languages. Yet computer systems, from desktops, to phones, to voice assistants force bilingual individuals to choose and use just one language at a time. Furthermore, interfaces often conflate language and region. To understand the impact of these design decisions, we interviewed 20 multilingual users to explore how language and technology interact. The results show a complexity of reasons why people choose and use a particular language, how users adapt their interaction to circumvent limitations of a monolingual interface, and how bilingual interactions are crucial for connecting families across national/language borders. We close with discussion of this ideology of monolingualism and its implications for an inclusive society.
Dr. Manuel A. Pérez-Quiñones is a Professor of Software and Information Systems at UNC at Charlotte. His research interests include human-computer interaction, CS education, and diversity issues in computing. He has published over 100 refereed articles and received an NSF CAREER award. Before joining UNCC, he worked at Virginia Tech, University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez, Visiting Professor at US Naval Academy, Visiting Professor at Northeastern, and as a Computer Scientist at the Naval Research Lab. He currently serves on the Committee on Women in Science, Engineering and Medicine at the National Academies and has been co-chair of several conferences (e.g., SIGCSE Technical Symposium, Tapia Conference). His contributions to CS Education and broadening participation computing have been recognized with an ACM Distinguished Member status (2019); the CRA A. Nico Habermann Award (2018); and the Richard A. Tapia Achievement Award (2017). He is originally from San Juan, Puerto Rico.