Famous plurilingual individuals: Milla Jovovich (Data Interpretation)

The data interpretation presents an analysis of short video starring with actress Milla Jovovich . Milla Jovovich is an American actress of Russian-Serbian origin. Her father is a Serbian doctor and mother is a Russian actress. Milla knows four languages that are Russian, Serbian, English and French (The Biography.com). This short video presents language shifting from English to Russian and vice versa in her speech. Furthermore, the analysis includes quantitative and qualitative interpretation of the video.

Milla Jovovich is on the set of “Resident Evil: Retribution” movie in Toronto and she is recording filming process for fans. The film includes different locations and one of them is Moscow city. That is why Milla addresses to her Russian fans in the video. She greets viewers in both languages and gives similar information about current location. For example: “What’s up, everybody!” and “Здравствуйте, весь мир, моя любимая Россия”.  It is noticeable that even though she tries to speak in two languages, the amount of English speech prevails. Overall, Milla switched from English to Russian and from Russian to English 8 times during 2 minutes video. She constructed 24 complete sentences in English and 9 sentences in Russian. The fact that the actress creates full sentences in both languages and shifts from one language to another is a good example of code-switching. Code-switching that Milla uses in the video is more “intersentential”, because she does not mix languages within one sentence, she finishes one idea and then switches to another language (Garcia, p. 50). There are two linguistic contexts in the situation: on the one hand is Russian speaking audience and on the other hand is English dominant audience. One of the reasons why Milla Jovovich chose Russian as the second language in her interview is the current setting of the film. It is supposed to be in Moscow, at the Arbatskaya station, even though it is in Toronto. Milla, being able to speak in Russian, uses this competence to grab Russian fans’ attention to the movie. It is also interesting and fascinating for foreign viewers to see actress speaking Russian and starring in the movie that partially takes place in Russia.

In case of Milla Jovovich, as plurilingual individual, it can be more than code-switching. The process of translanguaging including code-switching takes place here. As Garcia (2009) explains “translanguagings are multiple discursive practices in which bilinguals engage in order to make sense of their bilingual worlds” (p. 45). During the first five years of childhood Milla was surrounded by Russian and Serbian languages. When she was five years old her family leaved Ukraine and moved to California (The Biography.com). Since then girl lived in two language worlds: her home languages and language for communication in society. In terms of Cummins (1980) BICS and CALP, I think that Milla acquired Basic Interpersonal Communicative Skills in Russian, but some deep and sophisticated ideas are difficult to express in this language. While in English she has Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency. It is the language in which she studied at school and was exposed to during all her life (Cummins, p. 112). With this in mind, I want to highlight that Russian is the first native language for Milla Jovovich, but her identity is mostly American. American culture is seen in her behavior, gestures and the way she speaks in Russian. It is natural process and identifying herself as American, Milla at the same time respects her roots and mother language.

It will be interesting for me to listen how Mila Jovovich talks with her parents. They have lived in the United States of America for a long time and I think they use mostly English speech while communicating with each other.


Biography.com Editors. (2014). Retrieved from: http://www.biography.com/people/milla-jovovich-  20950779

Cummins, J. (1980). The Entry and Exit Fallacy in Bilingual Education. NABE Journal, 4(3), 25–59. https://doi.org/10.1080/08855072.1980.10668382

García, O. (2009). Bilingualism and translanguaging. Bilingual education in the 21st century: A global perspective, 44-50. Retrieved from:


Milla Yovovich govorit na russkom S’emki Obitel zla 5 (Milla Jovovich speaks in Russian on the set of Resident Evil Retribution). (2017). Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6U9EF1SiH6o


One thought on “Famous plurilingual individuals: Milla Jovovich (Data Interpretation)

  1. Interesting task and clear explanation of this phenomenon. (5/5) This post is well-researched and clearly written. The only improvement I would suggest is the conclusion. You seem to end with a minor idea, instead of coming back to the central importance of this topic. Remind the reader why this type of exercise is helpful in understanding multilingual identities and linguistic practice.


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