My language autobiography mainly uses my history as a person to show how my speech has changed over the years. I never realized how much impacted the way people spoke until i had to write this paper. Throughout my life, my speech was changing from the voice of a sheltered, one accent white girl to slowly becoming an open, adaptable, cultured voice that could speak to people with ease in many cases.
II. Language Autobiography
I was born into an Irish family that just lived the standard “white-person” life. We just lived a way that was considered “normal” to most white people in a black neigborhood. We didn’t go to church, we didn’t usually go and spend money doing fun things, and, as the youngest child, I never went out because I wasn’t allowed to. The kids in the neighborhood moved in and out before I could get to know them because they were in section 8 housing. They all spoke different then me, saying phrases that changed pretty much every year, from “decent” to “drawlin’” to “triflin’.” I could never keep up, especially when I was never able to hang out with these people. I was that white girl they saw in school who got the good grades. With this kind of Isolation, I was subject to my parents’ Olde Philadelphia accents which had had also grown on my siblings, such as saying “wooder” instead of water.
This was my only linguistic influence until probably sixth or seventh grade, when heard mostly from not my parents but the people at my middle school, who were predominantly black. My seventh grade English teacher, a black woman named Mrs. Clarke, especially influenced me. She was the first black teacher I had ever had, and she was a very powerful speaker. She was the one who started to teach me how to speak to a crowd, so I began to have traces of her accent within mine. She also had a slight olde Philadelphia accent, being an older woman, but she had a classic turn of phrase that you would expect from most black women, not pronouncing her “er’s” and saying phrases like “Tore up from the Floor up”. By that time, I had been into anime and Japanese culture as well. I was very slowly learning Japanese, and used my new skills whenever I spoke for short periods of time.
By high school, I had learned more Japanese and was also learning Spanish. It quickly became a trend to use Spanish words when my classmates spoke to each other. I still often do that, usually to my Spanish 2 classmates. Plus, in the high school that I attend, I am far from being the only one interested in Japanese language, anime and culture. Some of my newer experiences have been the most influential to me. The more comfortable I get speaking around a person, the more I tend to match their speech patterns. So, I guess I don’t really have one language Identity, but many. I am an olde Philadelphian with new turn of phrase and Spanganese words sprinkled in.
To whom it may concern:
Unfortunately, the weather is one of the few forces of which humans have not yet mastered control. Because of this, on a daily basis we are forced to cope and plan our lives around the will of the weather. This applies most importantly for individuals who choose to drive carelessly in adverse weather conditions. The focus of this information packet is to warn the drivers of Pennsylvania of the dangers that lurk in adverse weather conditions and how they can be avoided with consideration of simple things Usually, our organization focuses more so on speeding issues in this state, but it has come to out attention that the drivers of Pennsylvania are lacking a consideration of the basics of driving. Most of what is to be read in the following pages seems like it is common sense, but if you take the time to actually pay attention to what happens on the highways, roads, and streets of Pennsylvania you will see that this “sense” is not common among Pennsylvanians. We encourage you to view the corresponding public service announcement below.
(Citizens United Against Speeding in Pennsylvania)
The write-up to accompany the PSA can be viewed here.
My language autobiography is about a experience I had in middle school. It shows how word/language affected the way I thought. Words can hurt a lot and I just wanted to show to who ever reads this how much words hurt me.
"Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me." That saying was all a very big lie that we all use but never works. The truth is that words hurt a lot more then sticks and stones because at least when time passes the bruises that were on you will not be there anymore, but when it comes to those words, they will always linger in you mind not out of sight. I know this very well because there are words that hurt a lot and keep on repeating themselves each time I think of my middle school. The schools name is William Levering Elementary School, It’s a very old school there was two different building, a new building that was made out of concrete and had bigger windowed. The floors were well made and they aren’t cracked. The old building was made out stone the windows are regular size. The floor was made out of concrete and it was all cracked, the walls all have words written on them like “Whore, Bitch, etc.” then there were the drawings of the males organ and of the females chest. I was in eighth grade when I had painful words spoken to me. This was a time that a teacher called me stupid using big words thinking that I wouldn’t understand her. I didn’t get it at first. I would ask myself was it because English was not my first language, my first tongue or was it that my first language, my first tongue was so disliked by others? or was it that Spanish is my first language and it’s a hard language for a lot of people to learn or was it because I knew two languages and she only knew one was that why she talk to me in that ill manner way? Until now I didn’t get why she said those hateful words.
The words that were spoken were, “Maria you won’t be able to do anything. You’re inept and can’t do anything. You can’t read or write. Your test grades are lower then the average. You don’t even use what we had taught you.” Those words hurt a lot the first time I heard then but not only once but twice. The first time it was said to me was around February 1:50pm. I was walking down to the nurse room with one of my best friend. The whole day was so nice. Nothing bad happened but when I got into the nurse room she was there. She was like 4.9ft in height and she looks very constipated. She was talking to the nurse when I had walking in she had said to the nurse, “I only ate half of a peanut and that was my lunch.” After I had finished at the nurse my friend and I want to the library. My homeroom teacher let us go to the library but the lady didn’t know. She came up to my friend and I. That was when those hateful words were spewed out. I was about to cry but I couldn’t show her that it hurt so much. I wasn’t about to go and give her the pleasure and the power to make me cry. So I want to the classroom and hid from everyone and started to cry. Now every time that I think of my elementary her words repeat themselves.
Some words hurt more then others, were this words “You can’t read or write.” These words were right but at the sametime wrong because I can read and I can write. I may have some trouble with grammar and with words but that doesn’t mean that I can do either. Even my English teacher said I had good Ideas but it’s just the grammar and the explanation that I need to fix.
The other set of words that hurt were, “You’re inept and can’t do anything.” They were the words that I didn’t understand that much, but I figured it out. It was another way to say that I’m stupid and that I can’t do anything. I hate these words so much. The second time it was said to me was the next day.
Those words hurt me a lot more the second time. I had the worst last year of middle school. When she said it the second time I couldn’t hold my feelings back. I started to cry. This time I give her the power. The pain of hearing that from a teacher hurt me more then it coming from my family because I know my family is just playing around but a teacher the person that shouldn’t say those word did. From that day I started hiding my emotions from everyone and if I was sad I would have a clear expression but people didn’t know if I was sad, mad, or bored. I still do it because I’m trying to protect myself there are some people that I let near me but not so many. Those that are near me can tell the different very fast and always try to make me smile, but no mater what happens those word will never disappear from my mind, but no mater what I have people that love me and say that I’m really smart and that makes my day.
The School District of Philadelphia has faced a lot of challenges in 2011. From the mass budget cuts of the spring, to the firing of Superintendent Arlene Ackerman in the summer, there has been massive reform and lack of organization in the district. My in depth studying and lobbying of education reform has led me to study closer to the local acts of legislation that effect education.
The most recent act of legislation in the Philadelphia area that captured my attention was Councilman Bill Greens proposal to pull the SRC (School Reform Commission) in order to allow successful Philadelphia public schools to enhance their education without having to deal with the restrictions of the School Reform Commission.
Since running for City Council in 2007, Councilman Green has been a strong proponent of improving public education in Philadelphia. He has proposed a number of different pieces of legislation with regards to Philadelphia Eduction, including a policy outlining over 30 different recommendations to help fix Philadelphia Schools in the spring of 2010.
After hearing of this, I chose to use him as the legislator to reach out to for my lobby. After having trouble getting a hold of him at his city hall office by Phone, I decided to send a letter by mail with hopes that it will receive close contemplation. The letter included a praise of his former legislative moves in city hall, followed by introduction of who I was and why I was writing to him in regards to education reform. My focal concern was on his recent push against the SRC. I expressed my support for his decision but questioned the specific policies he was concerned about. And what was the ultimate factor that made him decide to make this move. It'll be interesting to see his response (If I get one) to my letter. Hopefully It will give my a more hands on look as too how legislators go about making their decision process.
I liked the project a lot and I was able to express how I feel about this topic well. For this project I needed to bring up an issue relating to language identity. Many people had different ideas, because this subject could be divided into many groups. I had an easy time describing myself and making descriptive scenes. I had a tough time picking what language identity topic I would describe. I learned a lot obviously that language effects us but language really does effect us in ways we don't know sometimes.
Language will shape us. People create their own languages and those languages rub off onto others. Some people really want this, they like to be different or it might be the only way to be accepted. Others don’t, and can’t help being sucked into it. They are forced to change to fit a situation presented upon them. You can also balance your languages and use them when needed. It’s easier to have that path, where you change the way you talk for different people and situations.
I have been studying Kenpo karate for 9 years now and have recently received my 1st degree black belt. It took me 9 years to earn this second black belt and it came with a unique lingual mindset.
In one of my adult classes, one lady named Philus started to observe the techniques more closely. She is medium height and has short and spiky black and gray hair. After showing her the last few stomps of each technique she shared her observation. "Why does that technique even need that kick at the end?"
I replied, "It can stop the opponent if they try to get back up." She didn't seem satisfied with this answer and made a “pfft" sound and returned to the lesson. The next technique I taught her was called Sleeper, and it's one of my favorites. At the end of the technique you knock the opponent down and punch and knee them on the ground. Philus raised her hand and asked, "Why would you even add that last punch and knee, I couldn’t see myself knocking a guy down and there’s no way I could stay around and hit him again." She continued talking, "Most of these techniques have a lot of extra stuff I think it’s just Kenpo Overkill." I laughed at that, Kenpo Overkill. So did the rest of the class. Philus was completely serious. She brought that phrase up a few times during class, and never failed to make everyone smile.
I mostly use this phrase when I'm in a class with her. When ever I say it to her she immediately becomes interested in the conversation, and fills with energy. It's easy to acquire new forms of language when you expose yourself to new learning environments. The people around you always have an effect that can stick with you for life.
This scene reminded me of Amy Tan’s, “A mother Tongue.” Tan, Amy. Harvard, "Home is were the heart dwells." Last modified 2/06/2006. Accessed January 5, 2012. http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/guorui/2008/02/06/mother-tongue-by-amy-tan/. “And my mother was standing in the back whispering loudly, ‘Why he don’t send me check. Already two weeks late. So mad he lie to me, losing me money.m. ” Another character in the essay speaks “And then I said in perfect English, ‘Yes, I’m getting rather concerned. You had agreed to send the check two weeks ago, but it hasn’t arrived.’” Amy Tan spoke this way to prove a point. She wanted to be well understood by the person. She spoke in a clear and easily understandable way so the other character could understand her. When I speak the language accepted by the person I’m speaking to, I can be taken more seriously, then if I spoke in a more personal way. This is why I spoke in Philus’s “language.” She does accept standard English, and she speaks it most of the time, but her standard English will have small changes to match the situation, just like mine. I can speak English, but everyone interacts with different people, those people will all give you certain characteristics in your speech that will stay with you, ready for you to use them when needed. Philus was able to create her own language with English roots. I joined her to connect with her and adapting to another person’s way of communicating is usually a very good way to spread an idea.
Every time a new person is created a new mass of languages will be created. Many people don’t understand how hard they try to be accepted. People want to have companions, friends, and family. There have been countless times where my language identity has changed. As long as I continue to meet new people with different ideas and thoughts, I will always take qualities of each language and create my own. My version of the widely excepted Standard English language is just a combination of thousands of voices that I can now use. No matter what other people say, I’m unique and create my own path of life.
Su nombre es kieu luu ella es de Filadelfia tiene el pelo café y los ojos cafés tiene 15 años son fascina pasar un rato con amigos y leer la adore porque ella coica y divertida
Ellos son mis amigo girugamesh son de japan tienen 20 22 21 24 años, tienen el pelo negro y los ojos café. Son fascina cantar y escribir música. Me caen bien porque hay misase es muy bueno.
Ellas son mis amigos Gloria y, Qing y, dislissa son de fliadelfila tienen 18,16,15 anos son fascina dibujar y escuchar musica. el pelo negro y los ojos café Me caen bien porque muy comic y divertid.
Nosotros lee Hong Ki tenemos 21 años son de Seoul tenemos fascina cantar y actuar Nos llevamos bien porque tiene el pelo rubio y ojos café Nos llevamos bien porque él es un tipo y muy guapo
Ellos son personas que me encanta ellos son muy cómica y simpática Yo amo a los muchos
I didn't know how to upload it! I tried using mp3 and quicktime and vlc. No luck.
The project is about me not speaking up, the project was my language biography. The process of my essay, was when the first time we got introduced to the topic me not speaking up popped in to my head. First I thought about things that happened to me that had to do with me not speaking up, and turn them in to scenes. After I remembered a couple of scenes that’s when I began to fill in my essay with details. Different things I learned when writing this essay was I grew from when I never really spoke up, to becoming sociable because people motivated me.
“I can’t hear you!”
“Girl, you need to break out of that shell, not gone get you no where”
… I’ve been hearing this phrase. All. My. Life. If I could, I would go back in time and speak up! I’ve lost opportunities for really amazing things and finding out who I am because of not speaking up. People won’t stop and listen to a person that doesn’t ever speak up. They won’t even take the time and find out whom I am. I wanted to become a model ever since I started to watch “America’s Next Top Model.” The girls on that show are loud, outgoing, and free spirited. One day, I told my mom
“Mom, I want to become a model.”
“That’s great, but you’re too shy, I won’t be with you on that runway or talking on talk shows for you. You’ll have to speak up for your self.”
She would say that every time I had an idea for something I wanted to pursue or something that I have interest in. Her answer would be ‘You’re too shy’, every time.
I tried…I really tried to speak up more when in front of strangers. Excect, my throat tighten up, my hands get clammy and I would start to sweat. Would I ever be able to break out of my shell?
My grand mom, my mom and I drove down to North Carolina in June 2011, to visit our cousin who’s 93 that we’ve never met in person. We drive up to a small house that was falling apart. “OH NO,” I said in my head.
“Are we sleeping over at her house,” I asked.
“Yeah,” my mom said.
We knock on the door and this lady opens the door with a welcoming smile. This is so not she! She looks too young. We walk in the living room, has a red carpet with a bunch of pictures and a couch rapped with plastic covering. Then, we walk in to the kitchen and I see my skinny cousin, with a bald cut, she actually looked healthy for a 93 year old. The house was creeping me out because it smelled old, and I was so ready to turn right back around and GO HOME! That night, my grand mom, mom and I were arguing about the sleeping arrangements. Who was going to sleep with our cousin and who was going to sleep in the other room where there was a pull out bed for two.
“Ayoola, you sleep with her!” my grand mom said
“Oh my gosh, No!”
“Well, I’m not sleeping with her, that’s for sure” My mom said.
We were laughing that whole night and making jokes about how theirs ghost in the house.
That night my grand mom slept with my cousin and I slept with my mom on the pull out couch.
A day has passed and all I’ve done was sit in the rocking chair in the kitchen and count the days and hours I had left.
It was the last day and before we left my cousin took me by my wrist and said, “You’re too quiet, you won’t get anywhere not talking, you need to speak up for your self, and you hear me?”
All my life people would say things to me, and they knew I wouldn’t say anything, but when I would go home I would reenact the situations where people would disrespect me, and I would act like their right in my face and I would go at. I would open up my eyes; there I was in front of the mirror. Things needed to change...I needed to change.
High school was a big leap for me, because I was at my middle school K-8, I knew everyone, it was like my second home because I wasn’t so quiet their and the teachers were really cool. When it came to high school, I was lost at first and didn’t speak much, out side of the class I was screaming, laughing, and wild...CRAZY! When it came to the class I was quiet, I’m only loud with people I’m comfortable around. This school is all about Presentation and Collaboration...why am I here? I’m going to die here! Their I was in front the class, and it was my turn to speak. As I pointed to my powerpoint on the screen, I would begin to stutter nervously, “Um, um, um.... here’s my part!” Was I really ready for this school?
I got a job -it was over the summer before my tenth grade year. It was a job with the Student Conservation Association. I honestly think that summer of 2011, I found myself and became more confident in front of people. We had to work in a group for my job - four boys and five girls. Out of all of them, I was the youngest, why me!! I was the only one going to the tenth grade, the rest of them were going to College or to the twelth grades. For the first two weeks it was okay, we worked in the woods, cleaning, we got paid and everything was going well... until people wanted to act so stinky towards me. They thought that they could disrespect me, just because I was the youngest and the quietist. For the rest of the four weeks, I was alone, I didn’t speak and who ever started to get disrespectful I would get in their face, the days were HOT. I was in jeans all day with boots I had to wear, and didn’t want to take anything from anyone. I started to notice my change, I was more confident. Every morning when we would all meet up at Broad and Girard and get in to the vans to head to the Wissahickon park, everyone else was noticing my attitude. I didn’t laugh anymore, I wasn’t smiling, I would have a kind of face that was like “Mess with me and we’re going to have a problem”
My personality did change a bit over the summer, so I thought that I should lay off talking to people that disrespect me, and arguing means that they’re getting their way, because people annoy you just to get your angry reaction.
“It was when I found out I had to talk, that school became a misery.” This quote is from the book Tongue Tied That quote is very similar to my autobiography because that’s how I felt, when the teachers told me I had to speak up all the time. it was hard for me to yell in class in front of 30 kids and a teacher that’s grading me. In the story “Tongue Tied” is about the girl went to Chinese School to get more confidence and when she was with her own kind she was loud and free. When I’m with my friends, I’m goofy and loud, but when it comes to a class, I become quiet, which is similar to the girl in “Tongue Tied.”
Tenth grade came around and I felt a little boost to become more talkative and outgoing. I saw a change within weeks. I was making new friends, but one thing that didn’t change was my presentation skills. I would still stand in front of the class and talk in the lowest voice ever.
I was presenting in Bio Chemistry one day, and my teacher was getting annoyed with me, after class, she told me that my presentation skills is a big part of her class, a big part of the school. Now that my grades can easily go down because I’m not loud enough, I feel as though I didn’t have time to gradually talk up and gain confidence. If I don’t, when will I? I have to start…
I when i was working on this Autobiography the part i struggled with was when i need to make a plan for it i didn't really remember much about when i code switched to fit the time but then as i thought of it more and tried to remember times that i would switch to blend into the environment. the easy part was when i first started the Autobiography and then i knew were i wanted to go with it.
The way that we are required to code switch from one dialect/language to another from standard English to an informal way of speaking like when I'm playing games Online with people I talk in Texttalk like “wtf”, and “lol”. But if I were sending an email I would type in full sentences. If I’m in an interview, then I would talk formally or if I'm with an adult that I know get angry if I don’t use Standard English when they’re talking to me in a formal manner. But with people I consider friends then I joke around with them when I talk with them. Most of the time when I just meet some one, I will speak with them formally until I get to know them and their personality.
Then I will code switch to see what type of tone I can talk with them in so they don’t get offended. Some times I find that it is easier to all ways talk formal new people I meet but I don't want them to think I'm not enthusiastic when their talking informal. When I go to a new place I don’t talk much but when I’m where I usually stay I talk a lot. The way that I speak changes with the setting that I find myself in. but now that I'm getting more comfortable about talking in public. Now I still don’t talk much but I still don’t talk much. I think it is because I don’t want sound stupid that is why I don’t talk unless I’m asked a question then I talk to them but at first I just stay and lesson to the way they act then I know if I can just say any thing around them.I would never talk to people if it weren’t for my brother Ed. When he first introduced me to his friends I was shy and didn’t want to talk. But when I meet his friend Lonnie he made it clear that I was not just going to sit there. He in colluded me in all of the activities like playing “super smash bros brawl”. When I first met him I was really quite and Lonnie's mom nicknamed me shadow because I never talked and I just stayed behind my brother.
Another time I code switched was when I was shadowing at SLA. I shadowed my brother so all his friends were trying to make me come out of my shell and talk more. But I was to shy because I was in a new zone. Also it was too unfamiliar to me event though I was with someone I know I just couldn’t bring my self to talk. Event when I would just tell people my name I would sturdier and mess up.
A time I need to code switch to be accepted was at my SLA interview. I was very respect full to the people that were interviewing me event though I was scared and shy. I code switched to make it sound as if I was not scared. And I answer all the questions to the best of my power. Also made it clear on what I was saying to them.
When I’m talking at home I use informal words but if my mom or dad would talk to me I would auto atuomatly switch to not show any disrespect.
Now that I am growing up I am learning that you need to code switch so you can get a job or get accepted to a school. Although it may be hard for some people to code switch. Now that I have been through so many different times that I have needed to change the way I talk to be accepted by the people around with out being scorn. With that sad looks like the different code for each accession.
That is how I use code switching to one dialect/language to another just so you can have an easier time getting a job. That is why I have tried to master code switching so that I can change it at any time to fit any time or setting. That is why I will talk formally with them until I get to know them and their personality
Slamming the brakes isn't necessarily the best idea.
Background Music/ Soundtrack: Mind Heist (Inception)
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