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282 Lost and Language Found Kristy Beers Fägersten and Ilaria Fiorentini Lost aired on ABC for six seasons, 2004 to 2010. Thanks in large part to the compelling and intricate plot, but also to the large ensemble cast and the exotic setting,1 the series was a favorite among audiences and critics, consistently ranking among the top five series on television throughout its run.2 It has been nominated for numerous awards and has received such prestigious accolades as an Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama Series in 2005 and a Golden Globe Award for Best Television Drama Series in 2006. It was ranked 27th in the Writers Guild of America list of the “101 Best Written Series of All Time” (Ausiello 2013). Lost can be summarized as a series about the forty-eight survivors of Oceanic Flight 815, which crashed on an island in the South Pacific while on its way from Sydney to Los Angeles. While the survivors initially take stock of who they are and where they may be, they soon realize that their island surroundings are not as idyllic as they seem, and dangers lurk in the jungle. Throughout the series’ six seasons, the survivors band together in different constellations, in an effort to discover more about the island (including the Others, a group of people already inhabiting the island), facilitate their rescue, or engineer ways of escaping. 1. The series was also known for its high production costs (Ryan 2005). 2. See, for example, “Favorites Hold Fast” (2008). Lost and Language Found | 283 The hallmark of Lost is the use of flashbacks, to give the viewer an idea of the characters’ backgrounds, how they ended up on Flight 815, and which demons they may need to exorcise during their time on the island. Lost is therefore known as a series of adventure and mystery, and its obscure and intricate plot was wildly popular among audiences. The complicated story lines served to instill loyalty in its viewers, who often took to online forums to discuss story developments, background revelations , and potential clues to the mysteries of the island. Lost is also known for starring an ensemble cast of characters with a variety of backgrounds, notably including people of varying regional origins, including speakers of both different English dialects and non-English languages, an unusual feature for an American television series. More than a dozen characters revealed themselves to have advanced linguistic skills,3 such as being bilingual (able to speak two languages) or multilingual (able to speak three or more languages). Throughout the series, the audience members (predominantly American, but Lost also enjoyed worldwide popularity) were exposed to foreign language interactions in non-English languages such as Spanish, French, Korean, or Arabic, and they were introduced to characters whose knowledge of languages such as Japanese, Russian, Latin, or Greek was highlighted. Each of the bilingual or multilingual characters had, of course, learned one or more language in addition to their native one. This process is known as second language acquisition. This chapter will focus on the main terms and concepts regarding second language acquisition, considering in particular two Korean survivors of Oceanic Flight 815, Jin and Sun. The only survivors of the crash who seemingly do not speak English at all, Jin and Sun embark on their post-crash life limited to communicating only with each other. Throughout the series, however, Jin and Sun are shown at various stages of learning and using English as a second language, and by the end of the series, both characters speak English proficiently. In this chapter, we will take a closer look at how their processes of learning English as a second language are represented in Lost. 3. For details, see 284 | Kristy Beers Fägersten and Ilaria Fiorentini Jin and Sun: Two Paths to a Second Language Jin-Soo Kwon and Sun-Hwa Kwon are a married Korean couple featured in each season of Lost. Viewers learn through flashbacks the complicated process by which Jin and Sun came to be married. Sun was the privileged but sheltered daughter of a rich and domineering businessman, while Jin was a simple man of modest means. Sun had long wanted to escape the oppression of her father, and proposed that she and Jin elope to America. Jin, however, insisted on taking an honorable path, convincing Sun to stay in Korea and asking her father for permission to marry. Sun’s father agreed to the marriage...


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