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LanguageAutobiography: Does language determine you?

In this unit of english class,​ we worked on autobiography's about what language means to us. I wrote about what language was like for me growing up and how language has a lot to do with your everyday life and how people view you.

When I was in elementary school, I always wondered why people made fun of the way I spoke. They told me it was because I talked “white”. “What does talking “white” even mean I thought to myself?” The way I speak isn’t the way they were raised to When I asked my mom, I remember her telling me that it meant that I was educated and that I didn’t talk like a normal “black” person. I asked her “does that mean black people aren’t educated”? I knew that my mom was educated, she finished college and got her masters degree and she’s part black. So I knew that couldn’t be true. Most people in my family finished college. Whites still overruled blacks in education. In this society, that’s the way it appeared. More white’s finished college, or even went to college than blacks did. That’s the way it’s always been in America.

As I grew up, all I was told by my peers was that “you talk like a white girl”. I started playing soccer when I was nine or ten years old, and to my african american peers, that was a “white sport”. I listened to songs that were sung by people that were white also. That gave them a bigger reason to call me a white girl. To them, everything I did or said was “white”. They thought playing basketball was a “black sport” so I played to fit in with everyone else. I barely got any playing time, but being apart of the basketball team at my middle school was all I needed to make me seem black. Everything was categorized at my school before I came to high school. I learned to embrace the way I talked.

When I was in 8th grade, I was attending a dominantly african american school. There were less than five students that were of another race. All of the kids there barely spoke proper english. Most spoke broken english, even the teachers, principal and other staff members. Everyday in the school there was a physical fight or close to it. In a private school I thought, there wouldn’t be any fights. The closest thing to a fight would be a argument. I had never experienced that type of environment before. It was different for me because in my household, no one talks broken english, but soon I caught on to the way they talked at my school if I wanted to fit in. But when I was home or around family, I spoke the way i was taught to. Speaking differently than the way I was raised was discriminated against in my household. It was like either you speak the way you are supposed to, or don’t speak at all.

Most of the people I knew growing up stereotyped different races. Each race had a certain way of talking and doing things. My friends portrayed blacks as being loud and ghetto all of the time. In some cases to me, that is true. Despite me being part black, that’s not the way my family acts not that wasn’t the way they were raised. But that being said, the white part of family did act the way others stereotype them. They all spoke properly, ate crackers and cheese and other things along that line. Owned big fancy houses and cars. Had well paying jobs and spoiled children. But that never affected me because I live in a big fancy house, my family has nice cars and I am also spoiled. So to me it didn’t matter what color you are, it’s how you were raised to act. The people I grew up around definitely had a huge impact on me and they are part of the reason why I am who I am today.

I recently read an article on language by James Baldwin. In the article, he discussed how “black” english contributes to standard english and that black english plays a big part in how we all speak today. “People evolve a language in order to describe and thus control their circumstances, or in order not to be submerged by a reality that they cannot articulate.” - James Baldwin. In this quote, he is saying that in different places, people speak a certain way to fit in. You wouldn’t speak the same way you speak to your friends while you are in a workplace. People have to switch the way they talk to meet the criteria of certain situations or will be looked at differently.

People are always going to be discriminated and talked about by others who speak differently than they do. But if everyone talked the same, there would be no diversity among us. Every person would be looked at the same.

The way you talk in this world determines who you are to some people. To me, thats not how I think of others. You could be well educated and still speak broken english. Or you could be uneducated and speak better than someone with a college degree. The color of your skin, or even where you come from should determine your class.

In the world, the way you speak determines your place, only if you let it.



Here is the link to my video.




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Language Autobiography 2013: Is it necessary for all to "fit in"?

In this project it was required that each student picks a theme about language that interest them. It could be bad or good they can decide but in that they must help the reader to understand what they are trying to say and relate it to their life. It could be a past experience, scene, or even what's happening in society/the world today. In that you must intertwine it with larger analysis that leads but to a broader idea and add your own reflection. Each student would have to incorporate one descriptive scene along with deeper thoughts and analysis. 

In today’s society it is looked at that to make it one must blend in with the ‘popular and superior’ crowd and allow one’s life to fit that crowd. When the topic of language is raised, English is the most commonly spoken in the US obviously and standard English seems to be the most professional language of all. When living in the US it was something that seemed to be ‘normal’ and ‘natural’ as if being different in that sense is wrong...

In elementary school I never really thought about such a thing much. All I knew and understood was that now that I’m in Philly, away from most of my family English would be the language I’d hear the most and speaking it for me wasn’t an option; I had to. I never was exposed to the thought of how speaking a different language that may be foreign to others could be a bad thing until that day...

My mother had decided to pick me up from school that day and I was happy to have her walk me home and have that sense of security. While walking I noticed some kids who go to the same school as I did walking also on the other side of the road. Two little boys about that same age as I was (about 7). After I noticed their presence my mom called my attention and said in a voice only I hear “Ki jan jou ou te pasé?” (How was your day?) “It was good” I told her. Then her phone rang and she picked up. It was my dad. What I noticed was that she was talking english with him when usually when it comes to him she speaks her home language. Creole. A language which Haitians speak. Then soon I realized it was because she was trying to explain to him how to communicate with his boss at a more professional english level that he asked her advice for. I wondered if everything was alright.

At the corner of my eye I could see and hear the kids snickering say that “she sounds Jamaican” as if there was a problem even if she was. One actually had the nerve to ask with a smirk on his face if she was one. On the phone my mom didn’t notice but I was so mad I yelled “shut up you african booty scratcher! You ugly too!” but with that I did also felt embarrassed. On the phone my mom was loud which made it easy for people a block away to hear her accent. But she’s my mother and no matter how loud she may be it would never change the importance and impact she has had on my life.  

Though she wasn’t from here she made an effort to try and speak the language that was foreign to her and it was bad  that most didn’t even notice that. Too bad back then, I was too young to understand that. But because of that it is to be felt that many with accents aren’t taken seriously when needed because they don’t speak or sound like they’re speaking ‘proper english’. But as I got older and really looked at the American society I came to realize that its prejudice, injustice and more. For example I remember awhile back, my mom ordered a pepperoni pizza on the phone and it was on speaker so I eavesdropped onto the conversation. It was because of my mother's accent the person constantly asked my mother to repeat what she was saying as if she was speaking a different language. On top of that they took forever to deliver. When I ordered the pizza and said the exact thing’s my mother said the last time because I don’t have that much of an accent they understood me and the delivery came under 30 minutes which confuzzles me.

  Even though she had an accent in the end the workers were able to understand what she was saying because we got what she asked for but why give me different service than her? It has been called to my and many others attention that some people in society feel as those people with hard accents aren’t truly educated and can be easily taken advantage of many things such as their disability to speak standard english. Which isn’t true at all. If one were to take a survey of who agrees with this quote ‘one shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover’ many would agree but I feel as though society has never even tried to live up to that expectation. 

All leading up to what I’m trying to say. It isn’t fair for someone to be treated differently just because you don’t understand them. There are other ways to communicate and to automatically assume they aren’t able to have the same skills or intelligence that you have doesn’t sound right or possible humane.. There is such a thing as being open-minded and I believe if more people were able to think it that matter thing would be a lot better. I read a piece by Bell Hooks that is titled "this is the oppressor's language/yet I need it to talk to you":Language, a place of struggle” and that quote means a lot of things. One, she explains how originally Africans weren’t meant to speak English as they do now. It was because when in the time of slavery where they were taken from their homeland, there was so many different Blacks from many different tribes and areas in Africa, with their own type of language that it was complex to communicate with one another, especially their new masters. So they were forced to learn and speak under the language of their oppressor which is what we all know as to be English. It still amazes me till this day of that effect and the same thing happens till this day to foreigners who come to America hoping for opportunity and along that process are stripped of their identity by being forced to speak English and forget about what they use to speak. 

All I can say about my true ethnicity is that its special just like any other kind of race or culture. It shouldn’t be judged because of its differences from other. in fact it should be looked at in the opposite way because being different is what makes it unique and special. I just find it hard to believe but strongly agree that many have a problem accepting that notion. 


Outside Sources:

hooks, bell. Hooks on the Language of Power. New Learning. Web. 11 Jan 2013. <http://newlearningonline.com/literacies/chapter-6-critical-literacies/hooks-on-the-language-of-power/>. 


Baldwin, James. "If Black English Isn't a Language, Then Tell Me What Is."New York Times. (July 29, 1979): <http://www.nytimes.com/books/98/03/29/specials/baldwin-english.html>. 


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Language is key

In some ways spanish was my first language. I was a little girl. I wasn’t quite sure what my first language was, spanish or english? When I was a child my grandmother used to babysit me all the time. My abuela. To her, I was her “chocolate candy bar” due to the fact that I was the only child who was half black and half puerto rican. She said I used to speak fluent spanish. Very fluent, till my father started to babysit me. By then I had forget how to speak in my natural tongue. I started to learn lots of english and how to add and subtract. You know, the little things a parent does to entertain their child with. It’s amazing. How I couldn’t really speak, but I could understand every word my grandmother was saying.


Because my mom makes baby voices to my little cats in spanish so I imagine that she did that with me too. I grew up with her speaking spanglish. Not only that, I used to visit my grandmothers house every single day and I watched her yell at my cousins. When ever she asked me to eat, play, she would speak spanish and  when I would cry she’d say something like “No te preocupes” to calm me down. I feel like it was a natural thing blended inside of me. Like a family insider. Knowing the language that not many of your friends speak. It’s a feeling of acceptance.

Nowadays, I’m still trying to find myself. Sometimes I don’t know who I am and sometimes I don’t know who I want to be. I don’t know if I should feel ashamed because I don’t speak spanish, or should I even care. Sometimes I sort of feel singled out because I can’t speak it and it is like a huge barrier to me. Sometimes it even hurts.  It’s like I’m the odd duckling. It’s so annoying when my cousins try to translate for me and I usually end up snapping saying “I don’t need you to translate for me, I understand!” I partly feel that it is my dad’s fault. Because he babysitted me I forgot all of my spanish and I started to learn a lot of english. One time we were talking he said something like...

“I don’t want to speak spanish. I’m english and spanish is annoying”.


I said “No it’s pretty easy.”


And I felt somewhat offended. Because he’d always try to speak his wife’s language.


He said something like “Well I’m not spanish.”


I should of retorted you’re not asian either so why are you trying to speak the filipino language?


I felt somewhat offended because you’re talking about something that is important to me.

Sometimes people even try to talk crap in spanish right in front of my face and think I don’t understand them. Once when I was young I dragged my cousin across the floor by his pants. We played violently everyday so this was very normal. But this time it wasn’t violent, we were just having fun. Now, my grandparents ALWAYS had visitors over and there was this snooty woman. I could hear her talking in spanish.


“Your daughter was playing rough with this boy and yanking him by the pants” and some other bull. I sat there and I yelled “No I didn’t!” And my mom took me too the kitchen.


“What the hell are you doing over there? Your embarrassing me!”and she popped me in the mouth.


I bet if I knew how to speak spanish I could have protected and stood up for myself from a woman who could not mind her own business. All I could do was stand there and try not to cry. I know that woman dramatically exagerated. She exagerated like crazy. That’s what I hate about my grandmother’s visitors. They exagerate and they always judge and spread things among their church friends. As I got older I started to watch what I do and just quickly pass with a “hola”. I feel as though if I spoke spanish everything would change. I’d have a key that could unlock so many things. Rosetta stone doesn’t help me at all. I get all my spanish from my mom. Even though she lost some of her accent, it’s still tropical like puerto rico itself. “It’s my mother’s tongue” -(Amy tan), so it’s more natural whenever she speaks it goes through me, I interpret it and a part of it stays in me.  I could have a better job and more choices because being bilingual is a great attribute to have. Language is a barrier and an advantage. It all depends on how you manipulate it.




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Language Autobiography 2013: Judgement

When we heard the announcement that school was out early due to the snowstorm, you could hear everyone; even the teachers were happy to hear the news. I’ve never seen such a large crowd clear out that fast in my life. It was as if there was a bomb in the school. I was happy to get out of school early but I didn’t have any plans for what to do after and neither did any of my friends. Then one of my friends said “lets have a snowball fight.”

“Yeah it can be a little like call of duty.”

“Yea bro lets do it,” said my other friend.

“Lets go then” I said.

“Lets make it a free for all said my other friend.

We took position in different parts of the school yard. I choose the east side to stay away from a corner. The rules were simple, hit and don’t get it. It was crazy, snowy projectiles filled the air around me. I barely had enough time to throw because I was ducking and dodging snowballs. Then our principal came out and yelled “What are you doing!” We all looked at each other with a startled expression on our face. She yelled again “Come to the office, now!” We went to the office and sat down. “I will not tolerate such act of insolence at my school. You know I could have all of you suspended for this.”

“We're sorry!” we replied.

“Because you guys are well behaved, I’m not gonna have you suspended, especially on a half day, however, I have to call your parents.” When I came home my mom gave me a barrage of insults. She said the more I use slang, the more non-sense I got into.

In the professional world, I might be seen as an ignorant, immature, incompetent, and antisocial person because of the stereotypes associated with how I speak. I speak with what people would call a ghetto slang. I use it just because it’s what feels the most natural and comfortable to me. People see it badly because it originated in the ghetto, which is considered to be a bad place. It also doesn’t help when it’s always portrayed in big films as ignorant.

I do not believe that my usage of slang makes me inferior. It is important to also realize that speaking with slang can show my intelligence. For example, it takes a large amount of intelligence to learn a second language and an even larger amount to be bilingual. Slang is the same concept. One who can be fluent in modern english and slang shows a great deal of mental intelligence. With my modern english and slang, I speak two forms of english and can switch between either one at will. In a sense that shows intelligence. Intelligence isn’t based on how you speak, its about how you present yourself. My mom once complained to me that I was using too much slang. She then made the reference that it was a sign that my grades wouldn’t be that good (because it was around report card time.) Later that day she came to realize that her connection was false because I had all A’s and B’s on my report card.

One day on vacation, me, my brother, and my twin cousins were on the boardwalk in Ocean City. I was holding a bucket of Thrasher fries and we were going in on it. We had gotten to the point where we were looking for street entertainers and other things that could be of interest. We do this because in the past, crazy things of good, bad, or of absolutely hilarious nature has happened to us. My cousin said “Hey look at that.”

“What?” I replied.

“Ha, it’s some guy using trash as an instrument.” He said.

“He must suck.” said my brother.

“Yeah definitely.” said my other cousin.

To me there was something interesting about him. “Wait a minute,” I said “Lets see what this guys got.”

“Why?” they all replied.

“Because you never know and judging by the crowd this guys collecting he might just make something out of those pots, pans, and cans.” I said. So we stopped to watch him perform. He announced to the crowd, “Now I know this just looks like some crazy kid banging some trash, but you don’t need real drums to be a drummer. You just need some sticks, and something that makes a beat.” When he said that, I thought maybe this guy really was good. He began playing, right out the gate this amazing sensation of sound hit our ears. His hands were a blur as he banged on his pots and pans. After about two minutes of relentless amazement of this performance he stopped and said, “O.K now I know that was good right.”

“Yeah!” cheered the crowd.

“Yeah, but what if for whatever reason I lost my arm... You would think I wouldn’t be able to play right... Think again.” Then another barrage of incredible sounds and mind twisting movements. We’ve never seen such amazing use of any musical instrument, let alone one made from recyclables. When he was finished he said “It would be great if you give me a donation so I can get a real drum set. There was no question about it, we all gave one dollar each to his cause.

This was a prime example of you can speak two languages at once, or how you can justify the language of your surroundings by your own language. His surroundings suggested that he was a sorry excuse for any musician, or just another bad street act to make you feel good about how talented you are. The fact that he had trash has an instrument would’ve set the idea in just about anyones head that he was poor and maybe not that talented, but this was somewhat justified by the amount of dedication and confidence in his language. He spoke with the kind of intensity of a famous musical artist about to perform at a huge concert. Then to set it in stone, his musical language proved to everyone that he was good. The way he played would’ve made just about any musician I know rethink how great they were. That’s how you can speak two languages at once.



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Language AutoBiography 2013: Language Reflects Who I am

Throughout the past couple weeks in English class, we learned about languages that were spoken in different parts of the countries. We watched a video of people talking in at United States and we read four stories about the languages that affected them in their lives because of who they are. We wrote some short scenes of how languages had changed myself when people judge the way I talk to people. The next building block was writing an autobiographical paper that connects to life. We also had to pick a quote from one of the four stories we’ve read and connect them to our personal life. My story is about how languages influence my self and my family at home versus outside. I wrote how languages are very important to the family even though we live in a society where people judge the way we talk.


There are so many different issues with my languages spoken at home and how I speak outside changes who I am because I will need to speak formally towards the older ones. At home, I don’t really care of how I talk towards my family members. If I speak rudely, people will think about my personality. It shows that my mom does not appreciate the way I always neglect speaking in Chinese, and it interferes with our communication when I don’t know a lot of words. I speak two languages; Cantonese and English. There has been numerous times when my mom speaks poor English. I have my own standard language when I may have an accent in Cantonese. I knew what I can say, but the pronunciations were horrible. This mainly affects me because of the languages I speak with my friends versus the dialects spoken with my family members inside that closed doors of my house. At home my family members often tend to correct my Chinese, but when they speak in english its my turn. Many times my sister and I will correct them and it help them have a better understanding with English.

Most of the time, I switch dialogues with my family members, and I end up merging the two languages together into a different language that ends up a blend of both English and Cantonese. An example of this type of situation would be when, one day I was walking down the street with my friends, while my phone vibrated. It was my mom. I picked up the phone and I heard her say “Where is you.” I know how to say that in Cantonese “nay hay bien dou? I ignored her mistake because I knew what she was talking about.“ I’m with my friends....” I switched my language to cantonese so she can understand, “no toun pién yûo hay Movie Theater.” I dislike the feeling of switching back and forth because the languages, makes it harder for me to expand the knowledge of speaking both. Then my mom says “Me pick you up? I meet you at daycare with brother and sister.” I quickly responded, “please talk better in English and I will meet you there in 15 minutes.”

I realized that I was a little harsh my with mother because she tried her best speaking with English to my siblings and myself. My mother didn’t go to college in America nor her hometown. My mother didn’t have enough money for her education and she tries to speak with us more where I respected her knowledge of knowing some english. I was happy for her, but she felt she needed to step up her game of learning more English. I also struggled with English when writing and talking to my friends. Its stereotypical thing when people say asians suck at grammar mistakes. I strongly agree with this and sometimes I don’t because people can work their way on improving. For example I don’t know when to use “has” or “have” in correct terms. Thus, the only solutions for myself is to try to talk often in English and ask people to politely correct my grammar. I pushed myself to my limits where I need to figure out improving with our grammar mistakes in my family. The only ways we can improve is having a conversation with each other, or start reading more novels to pick the English. Cantonese is more complex; there’s pin yin and chinese characters. There are tones on top of the pin yins and the words will mean differently. Thus, I may be losing the knowledge of speaking Cantonese slowly. I asked my mom if she wanted to improve on English. She said yes because it will be better to have a conversation with my two younger siblings, whom unfortunately for them never learned to speak chinese. I realized that my mom never took time for her own education because she was always occupied taking care of us, but still, she was willing to learn. It took me couple days for myself to think about my ethnicity. For most Asians, they are passionate about achieving their expectations and they have to face a lot of expectations.

An example from a text that best coincides with my experiences is the article from “Mother Tongue” by Amy Tan she said “It has become our language of intimacy, a different sort of English that relates to family talk , the language I grew up with” (Page 1). This quote reflects my family and myself when I am influenced by them. As I grew older, I noticed that learning different languages are very important when speaking among the group of people. I may fluster with some words that I am unfamiliar with. Incorporating with the languages shows that I want to learn the languages and the culture of their identity. I realized that people adapt to how they talk where languages came from different parts of the area. I believe there’re no one right language. The languages evolve each generations; like the people from the past who talk in Cantonese are more traditional compare to the 21st century.

We are struggling with the grammatical structures of speaking and writing. I listened to my parents English and its wrong most of the time. All I need to do is work harder towards my English by getting help from my friends. Society shows that there are some circumstances between English because people tend to pronounce the words differently. Different parts of the area will be a whole new world because of the strong accent or the background of the person. My parents were not from here and they had to adapt to the society of the language they speak. Now my siblings and I will need to balance the two languages we spoke because of the cultural language is an unique ideal to have its own meaning.There for, Cantonese has been passed down by each generation where the language is a secret value to my family lives. When the language dies off, our generations will forget the language, we speak today in our family.

 

​Bibliography:

Tan , Amy. "Mother Tongue." Home is Where the Heart Dwells. N.p.. Web. 11 Jan 2013. <https://blogs.law.harvard.edu/guorui/2008/02/06/mother-tongue-by-amy-tan/>.   
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Language Autobiography 2013: The Journey

Introduction and Reflection:

This unit, we had been talking about how language affects us. How people view slang, how accent are different in every country. We were given a project to write an essay about how language is related in real life. We had to write an autobiography of how language affects us. A lot of people view slang differently; some people thought that slang is for African American people. Other views it as a way that people talk around their environment. I learned that language is an obstacle that I had to face and it took a part of me and it gain a part of me. I also learn that language can also be stereotype by different race. 

Overall I could have done better because I could add more powerful descriptive scene. However, I believe that this Language essay open me up and make me thing that my story is finally being told. Also I can put this story as something people can learn from. It makes people realize that bullying someone because they have an accent can really change them. It also makes them reflect on their action. Thinking about how powerful language is, it really can bring out the negative image. The hardest part of this project is the “Reflection” because they are so much to be told but a limited on how much can be told. 

The Journey


I was born and raised in New York, Brooklyn. I was taught to speak Chinese first and English second. However, throughout my journey as I grow older, I was quadrilingual. I learned how to speak Mandarin, Cantonese, Foochow and English. When someone asked me, “How am I doing?” I can answer in Mandarin “wu hao” or Cantonese “wo ho” or Foochow “loy hall.” I have an accent when I speak English and I used to get bullied due to this problem. Every time a word came out my mouth, people would say, “I don’t understand you, what the hell are you speaking?” and they will go into making racist jokes. From my experience, I view Language as an obstacle that everyone has to face because the struggle of language brings out the negative image.  

During third grade, every time I tried to talk to someone or ask a teacher a question, I would hear giggling behind my back, people whispered, “What is she saying, does the teacher even understand her?” I start to stutter as words start to come out my mouth. My voice will slowly echo away, until my teacher says, “Amy! Speak louder! I can’t hear you!” At that moment, I nodded my head and stayed silent. Sometime I would get so angry and grip my fist under my table because I’m not fighting back. The smell around my table smell like sour sweat, sour feet sweat, and rotten apple. Sometime I wanted to say, "Why you stink?" I wanted to fit in so I started to talk more often and made fun of other people. I would say stuff like, “why is your head so big? You stink, you need to shower, your stupid.” Sometime when a teacher asks me to stop talking, I reply, “No, shut up” and go straight back to talking.

I started to help them by helping them on homework, letting them copy, and allowing them to cheat on my tests. I know these things were wrong to do, but they guaranteed a friendship between them and I. This fat kid said, “Amy, go punch that kid,” I was hesitating, I wanted to back up but I couldn’t, I went and punched that kid. I heard cheering behind my back and I felt proud. My mouth suddenly open and my smile got bigger. I walked back to my table feeling proud. I realize that I’m finally fitting it. I’m finally not alone. Ever since that day, I started to sit around these kids, laugh and joke around. Sometimes they will make fun of my accent but will soon say, “Amy, you know I’m joking.” Throughout third grade, people will come up to me and say, “Amy, you changed, what happen to you? I thought you were a good kid, not those kind of kids who will hang around people who gets into fights or even got locked up before.” I didn’t know how to respond to that because I thought I wasn’t doing anything wrong.



At home, I feel comfortable with whatever I speak because no one judges me. Most of the time, I speak English with my siblings. Most of the time when I am having conversation with my mom, I would speak English and she would get pissed and reply in Foochow, “loy meohite new gon se mal. New soon gon se mal. New á bit loy meohite loy me tawn enou.”  (I don’t understand you. What are you trying to say? I don’t know English that well.) Soon my mom will start to lecture me that when I go to china, it’s a bad influence on us. It shows shame, you need to speak Chinese at home and English in school.

“Language is the sources of misunderstandings” by Antoine de Saint-Exupery People misunderstand basic on your accent. Sometime they fail to understand you and make fun of me. Many people misunderstand me because my pronunciation is not normal due to my accent.


In my neighborhood, people who are Chinese, look at me like I’m an outsider because I’m hanging out with white and black people.  They say that Chinese people need to speak Chinese and hangout with Chinese people only. Language influence the way I am, the people who I hang out with, and how others view me due to the group I am with. It makes me insecure of my identity.


Language affects the way we are today. It takes and added a part of who we are today. While losing and gaining these part that make us today, your race start to view you differently too. For an example while I was gaining a part which I never had before which was doing bad things that I knew that was wrong such as calling people names, talking their stuff and hiding it, people around my neighborhood who are Chinese are afraid of me because they believe that I will bully their child. They start to stereotype me basic on the people I am hanging out with.

The struggles of language bring out the negative image by doing negative things to fit in such as bullying others, hanging out with the wrong group and talking back to teachers. I noticed that people who have stronger accent are often bully and made fun of because they are not view as normal people and they are also view as weak people.

Citation:

Moncur, Micheal. "The Quotations Page

." The Quotations Page . N.p.. Web. 13 Jan

2013. <http://www.quotationspage.com/quote/37833.html>.


 

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Language Autobiography 2013: Speak Loud

In this unit of our English class, students were asked to write an autobiography based on struggles or conflicts with their language life. For example, trying to adapt to a new language. In my autobiography, I had to try and adapt to a new place but I forgot to be myself.
My voice, it is heard throughout the day. Contemplating about nonsense. Reciting lyrics from the music of my iPod. The things that a normal, you know, teenager would do. It seem to start on my very first day of school. I walked the halls of Feltonville School. Interested by what the walls had to tell me. I gleamed at the posters that hung on the cemented walls. I never understood why they put up these posters if no one would ever listen to them. On poster said, “SILENT has the same letters as LISTEN.” Was this poster telling me to be quiet and calm when at school? Before I could’ve analyse another poster, I was escorted into a classroom, Room 5. I looked back to see my dad waving his hand at me. I looked for a few seconds and turned back.

I walked into the room and saw more posters telling me what to do. We lined along the chalkboard to get our assigned seats. I looked around the classroom and stared at all the posters that continued to advise me to act a certain way. My name was called by a caucasian woman named Mrs. Roth. Guess she was the teacher. I heard her voice. It was interesting, you know to her a crystal clear voice with no accent. I always heard an accent throughout my life, but it was odd to hear her. Anyways, I walked to my seat and stared at the chocolate school chair. I pulled it out and sat in it. I was uncomfortable but I didn’t want to complain. The poster told me to be silent and listen.I reprogrammed myself to be what it told me to be. I live in a semi-strict asian house. And you know how asians can be. My mom always ordered me to be quiet when an asian marathon is on or be quiet when we are at the dinner table. So, I was used to be quiet. Wasn’t school going to be my second home? So,  why act differently was my question.  

The hours flew by with the fall breeze. Suddenly, a bell clang. This was a reminder that it was time for lunch. I sat on a bench with the people I considered “friends.” I watched them talk obnoxiously loud and laugh at jokes they told each other. I wanted to be a part of the crowd so i tapped one of them on the shoulders and told them a joke. Ok, I have a few good jokes in my noggin. You can’t blame me I was five It was a pretty corny joke I heard my cousin say it and I had to tell them a joke. I wanted to tell a kid named Evan. He was a pretty loud kid. So, I knew we could possibly help me talk

“Yo, Evan. I got a joke. What kind of rooms have no walls?”

“What?”

“Mushrooms.” They sarcastically laughed at the joke as if they already heard it. I tried As I tried to converse with them, they weren't able to hear me. I tried to speak up but it seems that my voice seemed to dim down after every word I said. I think they thought I had a disorder or something was wrong with me because my “friends” just stopped talking to me because I guess they didn’t want to go through the hassle in telling me to speak up over and over again. But when the weekend came, it started to change.

When I went home, I wanted to be able to speak to my classmates without them giving me directions or telling me to speak up. But yet the poster, that seemed to be hanging from every wall in every room, stuck to my brain like a fly in a venus fly trap. Silent silent silent. Those words mocked me every time I tried to open my mouth and say a word.
On the next Monday, my whole label of being that slow, smart, quiet asian kid has changed. I mean I’m still that kid, least of the time. But that day, his days were over. The kid that was silent because of a poster became the loudest, funniest, the coolest kid in Room 5. As you can tell, the “wisdom” of that poster has deteriorated from my “perfect” mind. But sometimes I can feel the silence of that poster seems to haunt me. But I never let it stick on that long. Don’t let something silly, like a dumb poster, to hold you back from being what you want, not what you think you need to be.
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Language Autobiography 2013: The Standard English vs. Slang Dilemma

Stephen White
Iron Stream

Introduction: In this unit my stream learned about language and how it affects people's lives. We were assigned a project that was called our Language Autobiography. In this assignment we were supposed to connect a story from another author and a story coming from our own life about language and how it affects our lives. This assignment was challenging for me but after a couple of drafts and outlines I think it's way better than what it was before, I'm proud of my language autobiography.



It was winter break and I was on the phone with my friend Jaaz. We were talking about the sixers and how they were folding in the fourth quarter. When my Grandmother overheard the conversation she told me to “speak like I have an education.”  She judged my language as a language of ignorance and unintelligence. I felt insulted. She made an assumption that has no connection to my intelligence.



Adolescents are regularly forced to speak a certain way. Just this Saturday I had a couple of friends over my house to play some video games and hang out. We were sitting in my living room playing NBA 2k13. The TV was blasting and the room had the aroma of pizza. Each of us were so glued to the T.V. that our seats were only a few feet away from the screen. While playing we got animated. Jumping up and down laughing, screaming, pointing, and arguing over a game. The game was so close and the pressure was on. My mom heard us speaking vernacular english and using slang terms that me and a couple of friends say often. Such as “that’s dead”, “drawlin’”, and “frying”. While we were talking about Jerry Stackhouse a basketball player who is no longer in his zenith. I said “Jerry Stackhouse? That’s dead.” My mom who also is a sports fanatic responded with “What? Speak regular.” We had to ease up on our vernacular english since my mom joined the conversation. I stated that “Jerry Stackhouse is buns, he’s like 70 still playing in the league. That’s dead.” We all started cracking up almost laughing out of our chairs. My mom seemed troubled. It was because in her mind I was speaking “ghetto” or “speaking without an education.” She made me speak the way she wanted me to speak.

Gloria Anzaldua was regularly forced to speak a certain way as an adolescent also. When she was younger she was caught speaking Spanish at recess when she wasn’t supposed to. Anzaldua was punished with three licks from a sharp ruler onto her knuckles. Her teachers didn’t like that she spoke Spanish when she was supposed to speak English she still had a Mexican accent. When she was older she was required to take two speech classes at Pan-American University to get rid of her accent. Anzaldua and I were both forced to speak a certain way because the people in power above us didn’t like it.

People’s intelligence shouldn’t be judged based on the way they speak. I believe this because the way I speak is a choice. When my Grandmother told me this winter break “speak like I have an education” I was judged that I am not intelligent but I choose to speak that way when I’m with my friends. We all speak a form of Jargon that wouldn’t be understood to the untrained ear of an adult. I believe that I’m intelligent and didn’t deserve to be judged because she didn’t understand what we’re speaking.

Gloria Anzaldua’s intelligence was also judged when she was younger. When she spoke Spanish in front of  her teachers when she was supposed to speak English they thought she wasn’t capable of speaking English and that she should “go back to Mexico where she belonged.” Both of us also speak a form of Jargon when we’re with our friends. The form of Jargon she speaks is called “Pachuco”. Pachuco is a language of rebellion and a secret language for adolescents to speak only. Some words from the secret language that my friends and I use are “that’s dead” which means that’s boring and “Frying” which mean I’m doing good in that area. Some words from Pachuco that she uses is “Ruca” which means girl or woman and “Vato” which means guy or dude. We both speak secret languages between us and our fellow adolescents.

Even though we speak different we are still communicating the same ideas. Even though I speak in a way that my Mom or any other adult doesn’t understand my friends still understand every word I say. My friends and I are fully capable of speaking Standard English but we speak our way because it’s a preference for when we’re comfortable. Anzaldua’s parents or teachers never would catch on to language of Pachuco because it wasn’t made for them. It’s both of our preferences and we or anyone else shouldn’t be identified as stupid or lacking of education because we have the ability to speak proper but just choose not to.

I see adolescents everyday being told to “speak this way” or “speak that way”. All that matters is that you know how to speak Standard English when it counts. The forms of English are infinite and you can’t force someone to change the way they speak and change their identity because you don’t like it. I believe we all should come to the agreement that we shouldn’t stereotype Standard English is for the educated, and Jargon is for the uneducated.



Anzaldua, Gloria. Borderlands/La Frontera. San Francisco: Aunt Lute Books, 1999. Print.
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Language Autobiography 2013: Shakespeare and Slang

During this unit, my English class explored many aspects of Language and how it relates to identity. We have read the memoirs of many authors, in which they explain their personal battle with language. There have been struggles with bilingual status and which side to choose. I have learned  here many facets to language and how you use it determines it's advantages and disadvantages. In this project, I took an area of language from my personal experience and related it to the struggle with culture, identity and self-worth. My last thought upon finishing my paper was "How far will I go to be a part of the 'Talented Tenth'? Why is there still a talented tenth?"

"The problem of education, then, among Negroes must first of all deal with the Talented Tenth; it is the problem of developing the Best of this race that they may guide the Mass away from the contamination and death of the Worst, in their own and other races."

---W.E.B. DuBois

Shakespeare and Slang

“Open your books class. 'Their Eyes were Watching God' is a compelling story about identity. Now I must warn you, this book has a strong rural south dialect. Soon enough, you'll catch onto it.”

I stared at the cover of the book, took a deep breath and opened it. “Ships at a distance have every man's wish on board. For some they come in with the tide. For others they sail forever on the same horizon, never out of sight, never landing until the Watcher turns his eyes away in resignation, his dreams mocked to death by Time.” This is why Zora Neale Hurston was so revered, this is why her name is always mentioned with the greats of the Harlem Renaissance, I thought. A sense of pride and reverence swelled in my chest.
“Who can tell me what they think this means?”
My hand shot up immediately, I knew what it meant, I appreciated what it meant and how it was said. After a discussion, we moved onto the next page in which we met the characters:
Where all dat money her husband took and died and left her? – What dat ole forty year ole ‘oman doin’ wid her hair swingin’ down her back lak some young gal? – Where she left dat young lad of a boy she went off here wid?
I cringed at the characters' words. The stacks of books, papers, and journals I’d written and read weighed down the top of my head as I sunk into my seat.These words were exactly the stereotype I'd been taught my entire life to fight.  I remembered my mother and my grandmother's constant corrections, “It's 'well', not 'good'. It's 'have' not 'got'.  I was habitually reminded it was not good enough to be satisfactory like everyone else; because I was black and a female, I had to be better than everyone else to get an equal shot. I was and am expected to be more than a statistic and a big part of that for the adults in my life was and is my speech.
People are judged on two things upon introduction: How they look and how they speak, in that order. I was so concerned on breaking the stereotype of the lack of education and perceived absence of intelligence in blacks, that I'd never imagined what I learned could be a miseducation. Why would I desire to sound like  the system that told me I wasn’t good enough everyday. I'd rather be told that I sounded 'white' and ostracized by my black peers than to “stoop to their level”.  It wasn't until I read an essay by James Baldwin (who'd long been one of my favorite authors), that I could understand how someone could look down on me for sounding like I'd read a book before.
“A child cannot be taught by anyone whose demand, essentially, is that the child repudiate his experience, and all that gives him sustenance, and enter a limbo in which he will no longer be black, and in which he knows that he can never become white.”
As a “pro black”, with my natural hair and my disposition to favor black culture. Black language was never something I appreciated, it was something I despised. Speaking any dialect besides Standard English reflected to society, an ignorance and lack of education. I was the one who’d always pushed the envelope of society's expectations and limits, but I would never touch the lingual aspect. It'd never even occurred to me that the way I spoke could be as much as a rebellion, as the things I spoke about.
“You’re so well spoken”, people would always say. I’ve faked out more many meetings and presentations  with my ability to “sound intelligent”, than I am proud to say. I never felt English oppressed me, but it did rule my life, it became my calling card. Not my philosophical thinking, not my personality and not my talents, but my ability to open my mouth and sound like everyone else. I now realize the people and their experience I'd looked down upon countless times, were rebelling consciously or unconsciously. They were fighting to hold onto one of the only things that allowed them to be who they were, regardless of the media's bombardment of people who didn’t look, think, speak or live like they did. It is sad their refusal to conform will cost them many opportunities in life.
With the right words, anything is possible. Words helped Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Adolf Hitler, Malcolm and Gandhiji. Language is used as leverage in a competitive world. However, with any lever, there is something that is held high, and there is something that is weighed and made low. It is our burden to lift the heavy from our tongues and prosper.
Unfortunately, regardless of the culture you hold dear and how they speak, in America, the use of “proper” English is a must to get ahead.




Baldwin, James. "If Black English Isn't a Language, Then Tell Me What Is."New York Times. (July 29, 1979): <http://www.nytimes.com/books/98/03/29/specials/baldwin-english.html>.

hooks, bell. Hooks on the Language of Power. New Learning. Web. 11 Jan 2013. <http://newlearningonline.com/literacies/chapter-6-critical-literacies/hooks-on-the-language-of-power/>.
Hurston, Zora Neale. Their Eyes Were Watching God. New York: J.B. Lippincott, 1937. Print.




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Mi seres Queridos

yo- Hola mi nombre es Shadiqua. Tengo catorce años .Soy de Philadelphia. Soy guapa, deportista. y súper inteligente. Tengo ojos marrones  y el pelo cafés . Yo mas o menos loco. Me gusta ver la tele, ir de compras, y dormir. yo fascina Hello kitty y Rihanna.Uf, No me gusta leer o escribir.


 él-mi abuelo de Texas. Tiene muy simpático.  Tiene cafe ojos y el pelo. Mi abuelo fascina dormir. Lo adoro mi abuelo porque es inteligente. te amo abuelo


Ella - Taylor Tengo catorce anos. Ella cumpleaños es el junio veinte y nueve. Ella  guapa,alta,divertida y inteligente. Ella gusta jugar videojuegos y hablar por teléfono.Taylor me mejor  amiga bien porque es genial.

 

ellas- Stephanie, Imani, Taylor ,Sattera,Jada. ella catorce y quince años. Ellas cómca y guapa. Ella muy inteligente. Imani  bien sociable y simpática. Imani es mi mejor amiga.¡Ella es un amor de gente! tienen el perlo cafe y los ojo cafes.Jada súper guapa y inteligente.Jada biensimpática. Me caen bien porque ella es una buenísimo(bear-me-see-mo) amiga. Soy te amo ella! 


 nosotros-Mi abuela y soy. Somos guapa,baja,sociable,inteliente y boba. Somos más o menos loca. Mi abuela gusta leer,dormir,comer y hablar por teléfono. La quiero porque es genial y Es un amor de gente. Te amo abuela


conclusion-¡gracias! amigos y amigas 




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Language Autobiography 2013: A Voice of Culture

For this unit in Mr Block's English class at Science Leadership Academy we focused on language. We read stories about what it means to speak another language and how our world revolves around language. We explored what it means to not be able to keep up with standard english and different cultures relationships with language. In our class we also made a class dictionary of words that we use on a daily basis and discussed what language means to us. Our final assignment relating to language is a language autobiography. In which we must discuss what type of role language has played in our life and those around us. While also looking at bigger issues that relate to language.

In the United States today, there are currently more than fifty million immigrants bringing all different types of languages to America. For people of different countries, cities, and schools language is an identifier. Language is used to show a person's culture, emotional states, and distinguish oneself from others. 

Growing up taking Spanish Immersion I had each of my classes in spanish; math, science, history, reading. I became bilingual after my first year of kindergarten. In many ways, language has opened countless opportunities for me and has allowed me to experience things that I would have not had the option to otherwise. However, in many ways people who do not understand other languages have a ignorance and resistance towards language.

Statements such as, “What do you mean there are different types of Spanish?” or, “Chinese isn’t a language?” are ones I hear throughout the day. I find it a disservice to these cultures and ourselves that we do not acknowledge these other languages, when in many ways in America, they are presented to us on a daily bases. 

A friend of the Maestra Pete came to visit the class one afternoon. She greeted me by saying, “Hola, como te llamas?”  I looked up at her, then to Maestra Pete who I hoped would reassure me it was okay to talk to the unfamiliar woman like she had given me the confidence to speak up the rest of my kindergarten year. I answered, “Me llamo Saide,” which is the Spanish name that I got during my time at Independence Charter School. 

She looked at the row of teachers packed together next to her in order to avoid the soccer game taking place a mere five feet away.  Maestra Claudia, Maestra Leonora, Maestra Kelly were the teachers next to her. She glanced at me then down at the picnic blanket which was laying on the grass. “Ella tenia Maestra Pete,” she said with a tone of confidence in her voice. The women began to laugh, following up with comments like “Como te sabias?” and “Como era obvio?” I stood there still confused about what they were talking about, my face began to turn red as I tried to contemplate a way to walk away from the conversation. I was eventually dismissed and the next kid, Jamie was called over. She answered the questions just like I had. 

This time the unfamiliar woman said “Maestra Kelly, tienes que ser Maestra Kelly.” The ladies then again looked at each other this time chuckling at her so hopeful but incorrect guess. In return, they said, “No era Maestra Pete otra vez.” Jamie then walked away we both looked at each other unsure of what had just went on but not too concerned either. “Pass the ball,” I yelled jumping right back into the soccer game. 

That night, I walked into the house my mom sat at the kitchen table engrossed in her book. I tried to sneak by and get a couple of cookies before she could notice what I was doing. Just as I was on my way out she put down the book, “How was Field Day?” I sat down and told her what happened with the woman and the kindergarten teachers.

“You know why they did that don’t you?” 

I looked surprised that she knew what they were talking about and replied, “No, what?” 

“They were seeing if they could tell by your accent which teacher you had. You know Maestra Pete was from Peru, Maestra Kelly Chile, Maestra Leonora from Ecuador, and Maestra Claudia Columbia.” She looked at me making sure I understood. I nodded and rushed out of the kitchen before she noticed I had taken the cookies.

Each year at Independence Charter School, I had a different teacher from another country. Each spoke Spanish with their own flare and the way that it would have been spoken in their country. In many cases, other people could notice which teacher I had by the accents and words that each teacher used. Just like many  people can recognize that I am from South Philadelphia by my accent and words. 

To people who can not recognize things like what country or part of the city each individual is from it is hard for them to except the other person's way of speaking. In many ways people are closed off towards other cultures and languages because they are not familiar with it. This causes barriers for many people today in things such as communicating with a peer, asking for directions, or even trying to order food. 

We still lack to acknowledge the pride that people take in their individual culture, many ways interpreted by language. Just like in my kindergarten class and my entire time throughout Spanish Immersion each teacher took pride in their countries language. It is important that we as a community begin to do the same for other peoples. Language is an opportunity to explore something new and interact with other people. 

This is one example of how even in small ways language has brought me to experience a larger world. I hurried to put my coat on only for it to be inside out. “Sadie, if I have to tell you one more time, come on!” I rolled my eyes still trying to think of ways to avoid grocery shopping. “Maybe you should just go with out me,” I happily said. Without a hesitation my mom replied, “Right this instance.” I rushed out the house in fear of consequences to come. I followed ten feet behind her with my head down trying to avoid any further confrontation. A ball fell right in front of me. I looked to the park next to me to notice a group of men playing soccer. “El pelota por favor,” they asked, signaling for the ball. 

“Si solo un segundo,” I said back. 

“Gracias,” they said in unison. 

“No es ningun problema.” They all glared at me somewhat amazed at my ability to hold a conversation with them. 

Being able to understand another language I have been able to have interactions with people who I would not have been able to otherwise. Even small things such as this I am proud to say that I can do. Language should no longer be a barrier but an opportunity, a window into something new, a way to see a persons life.


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Language Autobiography- Language, Power, and Personality

Throughout this unit in English. The class looked at many stories over peoples POV’s on Language and how it affects them. This made me reflect on my own language. It made me look back on all the times language had affected me. It made me look at not just my language, but everyones language. When we were given the assignment to apply our view are language. I applied my view on what I learned about language over the years and how it defines me.

Language is a wonderful thing, Though sometimes we don’t see the power it gives us. Instead we let others speak through us as if their voice has more power then or voices ever could. Take me for example. I mumble a lot of the things I say and I think it’s because of my Past. I never talked to a lot of people in my old school and instead had people talk for me.  This made me not truly feel that there was no power in my words. Today though I have much more confidence when I speak now, but sometimes the past comes back and I start mumbling again.

One big example would be in my old school. It was the advvage schools with adverage students, but some were more louder than others. Not even volume wise, but also some students would have a lot of people listen when they spoke and others would have barely any. I was one of the quiet ones and because of that no one would really listened to. So when everyone would start talking when students were trying to focus I could say “Quiet!” and no one would listen, probably not even hear me, but as soon as one of the louder students would talk everyone would remain quiet. This would make me feel that my words had no power. As if the only way to get my voice or opinion out was to quietly say it to whoever i was sitting with hopeing they would hear what I said and agree with it. Then my voice would get out there.

This began to change though as years went on though. I started to hear the confidence in my voice the more I heard people saying rediculous things. I decided to almost force my voice forward to prove to myself that my voice has meaning. After I was finished my old school I thought that now with High School I’m going to have to prove that my voice has power all over  again and this time it will be harder to prove myself.  Fortunately when I got to SLA I couldn’t have been anymore wrong.

My very first class at SLA was African-American history. I was nervous because in Advisory I had not talked much and I was worried that what happen in my old school would happen again. The worst case scenario was happening as the first assignment given was a group based one. I began to worry, but as soon as the assignment was giving people were looking at everyone for ideas. Including from me.  This began a revalation I had where I realized that I had power in my words and that I spent years not believing in them. I could say what I wanted and people would listen.  I was the voice for my group discussing the assignment to the other students and showing that I stand by my and my groups words. I learned that when you speak others will listen, but only if you stand by what you are saying and show your language through it.

In the story Aria the story says “the speech of people in public often be loud and booming.” After that situation in school.  I realized that this is what I wanted. To be able to speak to anyone withh confidence that matched my words.   This quote discusses what everyone should look forward to in life. Being able to say what ever you want to say so that not only will people want to listen, but also process your personality through that language.

Now after my first year at SLA I no longer have fear for my words.  I have found my language and how it matches my personality. I can’t say the same about others though. There are others who feel that their language is suppresed by others and don’t  which to say their words. Instead they speak their language through others hoping that the power of the others person’s voice will help them speak their mind. The only real ways words have power is when you say them yourself. That’s when you show what it is you stand for and why you are speaking. Language is like a persons Personality where for everyone it’s different and there isn’t a set rule for what language truly is. To have someone talk through you ruins your words because you are not saying them with the power of their own language. This is why before you can stand for anything you have to stand by your language.  



Citations:

hooks, bell. Hooks on the Language of Power. New Learning. Web. 11 Jan 2013. <http://newlearningonline.com/literacies/chapter-6-critical-literacies/hooks-on-the-language-of-power/>.

Rodriguez, Richard. Aria. hunger of Memory
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Language Autobiography 2013: Double Sided

In my 10th grade English Class we wrote Language Autobiographies. This entailed writing scenes that showed how you communicated. Each person focused on a different topic that went along with language. To continue with our exploration of language each student made a digital story that could go along side their autobiography but was not identical. We each created extremely different projects come from the same main idea.


“I understand what you’re trying to say but...” The most common words in my family. We always start the same, ten o’clock, the t.v. turned off and we’re all ready to go upstairs and slide into our beds. Then someone remembers one last story, one last thing that happened that day. They begin their story and out of courtesy we all stay to listen. 


“So, today in class we were talking about women in advertisements.” Today is my turn, I begin but my family only listens with uninterested faces. Yet I know they care, “It said that owning an image of a nude woman is the same as a desire to own the portrayed woman.” They’re listening now so much so that it’s their turn to talk.


“That’s ridiculous,” My mom starts angrily but with a smile on her face, “I mean if that’s true then we own a lot of women.” 


“Yeah I know, so I spoke up afterwards when we were talking about it saying that I disagreed and Block responded, ‘So you think putting porn on your wall is different than a nude portrait, interesting.’” I know I’ve lost my story now because they’ve all started talking, saying more or less the same thing.


“He actually said that?” My sister questions, rolling her eyes, “Well that escalated quickly.” This is how it starts, this is how it always starts. And then we get further into the ideas and principles behind the event and we each take our own stance.

“I’ve never understood the fascination with Barbie though,” I start a new side of the argument, “I mean I understand what you’re saying but there are a lot of people who take that too far, I mean you guys let me play with Barbies and I didn’t ever want to be like them, nor do I know anyone who did.”


“That’s true,” my dad starts, ready to counter but my mom cuts him off quickly, “But that doesn’t mean there aren’t girls who do.” We could go back and forth forever.


This is how it always was and I hope will always be in my family. My parents have never told me my opinion is wrong but they often attempt to convince me of their opinion. However because of the argumentative strategies they’ve taught me, I rarely back down, in fact I oppose them as well. Language for me has always been able to give me the ability to oppose and to stand up.


Language can give you the power to convince others you’re right. To explain to them what it means to be you, and what it is you believe. I have always been in an environment that allows me to express what I’m actually feeling. This isn’t to say that there aren’t times or moments when I am not interrupted or yelled at. I just always have someone I can go to to explain what it is that I meant or what I was going to say.

It can and should be this but that does not mean it should always be this. There are times when you need to relax, to be a part of something simpler and easier.


The front door opens as I sit on the couch. I can see who is there, just that there’s someone. “Spies!” I scream towards the shape coming through the front door that I hope is my sister.


“Dinkleberg!” She calls back, confirming it’s her.


“Maybe you should sell me and buy a rabbit instead!” I scream again, sprawled on the couch.


“At least a rabbit would be better than you!” My sister walks into the room calmly.


“I bet it’d be smarter than me too!”


“And quieter!”


“You’d like it cause it’d be stinky like you!”


“Go to your room!”


“I’m already in my room!” I laugh as we finish the scene so often recited by our tongues, the scene from Lilo & Stitch. 


This other side of language, the side of love and happiness. The way that my sister and I can speak to each other and know how we’re feeling just by the quotes we say or the songs we sing. We’ve always worked as a unit, knowing where to be and what to say because of all the things we’ve said in the past. However each time is different. Each word can take on so many different forms, creating endless options. Language has connected us in a way nothing and no one else has. Similar to Gloria Anzaldúa in How to Tame a Wild Tongue, “My ‘home’ tongues are the languages I speak with my sister and brothers, with my friends.” This is how I feel when I speak with my sister, I feel at home. 


Because of this I am a rare one. I am different. Others do not have to freedom and support that I do when it comes to language. They are restricted and kept in by it. They often do not get the chances that I get to speak out. I do not know what this feels like. I do not know the thoughts that you might think. However, I know how good it feels to have this freedom, and I respect it. I know I am lucky.


Language can transform from something all about power and the ability to stand up for yourself to being able to connect with someone. I have been lucky enough to learn both sides of that in the same household. I have grown up appreciating every word and syllable I and others use and know. I have grown up with the idea that you must be careful with what you say but you must also be willing to take a break, to go “without a filter” as my mother says. You have to know when to say what  you want, what makes you comfortable, and when you must say what you mean.

Anzaldua, Gloria. Borderlands/La Frontera. San Francisco: Aunt Lute Books, 1999. Print.
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Language Auto _ Massey-Campbell

Jasir Massey-Campbell

Language Autobiography


“What is language?” This question may seem incomplex, but it is all but simple. The common person when asked this question would most likely answer that language is “the way people communicate” or “language is the words you say to divulge your thoughts to someone.” Although this is true, I do not simply see language as being simple. Language is displayed as being something compounded of simple characteristics, but under the basic basis of what language is, language is more complicated than being just the way we communicate.

There are an approximated 6800 different types of languages different groups of people speak in the world. Yes, there are the different human classified languages like English, German and Spanish. But there are sub-languages.  There are of as many sub-languages as there are people. Many will define language as the way you speak, or what you speak or how you communicate with others. So if this is true, does anyone communicate the same? Do any of us speak the same way? I believe we are all unique in the way we speak. If we spoke the same way, if we had the same vocabulary, we would not be able to distinct ourselves verbally. A verbal conversation is simply blind communication. Although it is everything but simple. If we all communicated using the same language it would be like talking to ourselves in a full body-mirror. We all have something that makes our voice unique, whether it be the tone in which we speak, how deep our voice is, if we speak straight or if we sometimes sta-sta-stutter when we speak.

At Germantown Friends School you were instantly judged and classified by the way you presented yourself through your appearance, the way you dress and the way you speak. Once you were judged you were put in a social class. These social classes most times excluded African Americans although not putting them at the bottom of the social hierarchy. African Americans were expected to speak in slang, to have a lazy tongue and to be stupid.  Although this was the ideal, it was in a way admired by the majority and African Americans to speak a language they do not necessarily speak. Many of my black friends spoke street slang to impress, and also because it felt expected in that community. A caucasian girl, who all of the boys eyed. Many would do anything to go with her. An advantage that we had was that she had a huge adoration for the “black male” who lived the street life. This was one of the reasons many of them would act the way they did. I did not allow myself to fall into the pre-labeling stereotypes of the black male. My time at GFS did not allow me to feel that I could truly express or speak in a way that was natural. I found myself not trying to fall into the black male stereotypes around the caucasian students, and when I was around my black friends I would speak more slang to be accepted.  A rapper that I listen to had a verse that I believe describe my situation nicely. Thebe Neruda Kgositsile aka Earl Sweatshirt said in his song Chum “Too Black for the White kids and too White for the Blacks.” Earl was describing to us how his behavior was never completely acceptable for the white or black kids that he knew. Earl as well as I felt like outcast. We never truly fit in with regular crowds. I never had a group of friends that I would regularly hang out with. I was either tired of speaking in slang or tired of trying to impress a group of people that I didn’t need to.

When I am home, I begin to speak what I call my third language, also known as the language that I use to speak to my parents. When I talk to my parents I am allowed to have fun conversations with them, and my leniency with my speech is far from strict. Our relationship is casual enough for me to say “Hey mom!” but not in a sense that I still have to make sure I don’t say words such as “Chill”, “Stop drawlin”, “Ard”, “What’s up” and things of that nature. I am still obligated and expected to show a high level of respect with maturity when speaking to them. I know that I cannot use the same words (slang) that I would use when talking to a friend to talk to my mother or father. In my family many of them do not have children or do not have children my age so to the rest of my family I am expected to speak with the same respect I give my parents. All but a few cousins who are around my age am I able to feel comfortable speaking to them the way I desire.
SLA is composed of many different ethnicities who are apart of different social backgrounds. Because SLA is in the middle of the city, it attracts people from all parts of Philadelphia. Transferring to Science Leadership Academy (SLA) really helped me find who I was. I feel like for once in my life I am able to talk the way that feels comfortable and natural. The awkwardness of trying to be accepted or feel wanted has diminished; instead I feel accepted and I feel wanted. This is now more of a certainty than a possibility.  The people who are apart of the SLA community understand that there are many types of people in the world and that with those people come many different languages. I find the people here to not judge as much as the people did at GFS.There is not much to say about the dissimilarities  other than that the differences between the way I talked to teachers at GFS are different than the way I talk to teachers here at SLA. Because GFS was a quaker school they did not require you to announce them by their last name or with a title (i.e. Mr. Ms. Mrs.) Here at SLA it is required to either call a teacher by his/her last name or with the title Mr., Mrs. or Ms.
My aim is to inform the readers that everyone is different, so never judge someone for something that makes them feel a way that is comfortable.
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Language Autobiography- Inhabiting Language


Intro:
In this unit we mainly focused on language through different peoples eyes. We read many stories and watched a couple videos all sharing their unique perspectives on language. We went in depth talking about the person’s relationship to their language and analyzing the pieces of literature. During the unit we wrote two mini- scenes about language in our life that eventually led to our benchmark project, the language autobiography. Our autobiography is a story of the way we see language in our lives. The way we each portray language in our homes or with our friends, the advantages, and the disadvantages that come with it. We had to investigate the themes we had learned about in the unit and connect them to our autobiography in some way. The autobiography is both an analysis on language in our life and also a reflection of what we see happening with language in our daily lives.


Autobiography:

I come from a very diverse family. My mother was born and raised in Italy, my dad in Iran, but my siblings and I were all born here in America. I was fortunate enough to be taught all three languages and be able to speak every one fluently. I am still exploring the advantages and disadvantages that come with speaking more than one language. It is very different when I speak English from the two languages I speak at home. I automatically associate Italian and Persian with family, not just my parents but also my aunts and uncles.   

English is more of the “proper” language for me, the one I speak at school and use for papers and projects. I have noticed that even when I speak English with my friends, I tend to speak pretty formally.

“I would rather be anywhere else right now…” I say. “I don’t have the energy to workout, I just want to go to bed.” “Today’s workout is 4 x 2500m! Go stretch and do your core workout and then hop on an erg and start your pieces.” My coach explains to the entire team.

I look around the room and see everyone’s smile slowly start to fade.

“Wow Nicole, are you trying to kill us?” I say jokingly to my coach.

“Oh man…This is gonna be a long day, I ain’t ready foh dis” I hear someone say across the room and everyone nods in agreement. We know the sooner we start the sooner it will be over so we quickly get to work.

The workout is finally over and my teammates and I are sitting on our ergs breathing heavily, legs shaking and sweat all over.

“OMG Why do we row? What is wrong wit us? Ugh ma body hurts! I hear these statements coming from all over the room. 

I do not use slang and I do not shorten words, like many people do when they are just talking casually. Maybe this is because of the fact that it wasn’t my first language and that I started speaking English when I was about 3 or 4. Prior to that I only knew Persian and Italian. I don’t have a clear explanation as to why I only speak English in it’s “standard” form but it is probably because I only use what was taught to me in school.  I already switch between so many different languages on a daily basis, there is no need for another an extra way of speaking.

It can get confusing and crazy for an outsider to hear how we talk at home because there is a little bit of Persian here, a little bit of Italian there and also some English. “Venite giu.” My mom called up to us from the first floor. “Ho detto venite!” “We’re coming, we’re coming!” We call down to her. My sister, my brother and I run down the steps, because we know that if we don’t go now she’ll keep calling us. “Apparecchiate la tavola per cena.” “Oh good it’s dinner time. I’m starved.” My little brother says as he gets the napkins from the kitchen. “Chiara, hurry up and get the plates,” I say. “And what are you gonna get?” My sister says accusingly. “Chill. I’m getting the cups.” Now my mom is annoyed because we’re bickering. “Ragazze.” Everyone was busy setting the table and cooking dinner that we didn’t even notice my dad came in the house. “Salam.” We hear his voice as he walks through the door, soaking wet from the rain. “Salam Baba!” we all say. “Chetori?”  I ask. “How was work?” asks my sister. "Khoob, let's eat!" responds my dad, but no one is as happy as my brother to sit down and have dinner.

Even though for others it may be confusing, to me it is an environment I feel comfortable in. People do not realize the impact of language; the way it shapes a person and their life. I could never quite place my finger on the exact feelings I have toward language.  After reading this quote by Emil M. Cioran, I knew I had found it and I automatically fell in love with it: “You inhabit a language rather than a country.” (Cioran) Location does not make you who you are but culture does and language goes hand in hand with culture. Yes, it is true that people adopt habits and ways of life from where they live. Language though, is more of who you truly are inside, what makes you who you are as a person. We will always be connected to that deeper thing inside of us, the real us. Even when other things become a part of us and new experiences change us, we always hold on to that instinctive origin.

Language has definitely been a big part in shaping who I am today. Many people do not realize that language is more than just a bonus on a job resume or college application. They think language is only about using it to get to a higher, better place. It allows me to be different. Language has much more depth and personal connection than just that. It allows me to talk to many different people and to travel to unique places. I really love to travel and luckily I am able to do so very often. The experiences I have had traveling internationally have truly grown on me and taught me numerous valuable lessons. I love it so much because of the fact that I am very diverse and we have family in many parts of the world. I feel like it has made my mind very open to different cultures and languages. It hurts to see people being judged only because of their skin color or cultural differences. If everyone were the same, spoke the same language and had the same traditions, our world would be lifeless and boring.



Works Cited:
Cioran, Emil. Rumanian- French born philosopher. Anathemas and Admirations, “On the Verge of Existence” (1986). Print.
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English "Why Do Languages Do?" Jzhang

My paper is about my thoughts on language. Does having language help us or hinder us? Does it do good or does it do harm? These are just a few questions I asked myself while I was typing this. 
At first when I started to write, I was confused since the paper have such direct instructions. But as I started to write I understood that it doesn't have to be pure facts. It can also be person thoughts.


Language is very intriguing creation of mankind. Even the same language sounds differently depending on where the area is. One’s way of speech can show where someone comes from, their lifestyle and also their personality.

In modern days, the way of speech tends to be heavily judged. By the way someone speaks, they are instantly “ranked” in the persons mind. People would get treated differently just because the listener is not used to or dislikes the way you speaks, this is a major problem.
When one is judged and branded just by their speech, they have no chance to show off their true skills. Even when they do, they are being viewed in a bias manner. So do the language make the person?

I personally do not  believe so. Language is something created by humans, or at least the way we think when we hear “language.”  For one, things such as English, Spanish, French or any others isn’t really needed. They were created by humans for humans, thus it is man made and it wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for the humans that created them. So how do we understand one another if our “languages” didn’t exist? Language at its purest forms is sounds. It is just different arrangements of sound that our brain can decode. We are just another species of animal, we are born with a form of communication. Though due to the way we live this natural born language is lost the moment we start to learn. Does having so many languages help us in any way, that is a confusing question.

No, using the languages created by mankind, create more problems than it could have solved. Did it solve anything at all? No one can say since none of us still remember that language. But the languages we create certainly caused much more problem then it’s worth.
Having parents who does not understand the main language used in the land, create many problems. My parents does not speak english, so being the only english speaker in the family, I have to carry part of the weight of my family on my back. “Read these letters on the table and reply to those are needed, than explain the letters to us and fill out the forums. I just said yes” but just looking at the monstrous mountain of papers turns my knees to jelly. The mountain of paper casts its shadow over my, overwhelming me, crushing me. It just hurt my head just looking at it, but it must be done. This line is very common in my everyday life and so much so, it have became part of my life. My parents often tell me that “The more languages you know the better chance you have of getting better work. I agree” but I don’t just want a wealthy life, I want a life that I can enjoy.
So while the phrase is true, but it also have its bad points.
Each language that is created by humans carries a kind of personality. The first one you learn will become part of you. But as you start to learn more and more, the languages starts to slowly change you. The change itself could be good or bad, but since humans in general are afraid of difference. In the story Tongue Tied, the main character was learning a different language. But because of how the world views ways of speech, the mother of the speaker went as far as to cut the underside of her tongue. “If I had lived in China, I would have been an outlaw knot-maker. Maybe that’s why my mother cut my tongue.” This line is from the story Tongue Tied. The idea of trying to fit in with others and the fear of that being different is bad, causes the problem of having different languages even worse.

So why do humans having so many different languages? I believe that this is merely do to the way people think. Humans tends to like the company of others who think similarly to the way they do. This way of thinking will only divide the human race. When one learns a new language it starts to blend in and become a part of yourself. But at the same time you lose a part of yourself. In the end it all comes to personal opinions. It doesn’t matter if everyone understands each other or all humans start dancing hand in hand, as long as the bias exist nothing will change. Language just help increase the bias we already have. Language is something that will only separate and will not unite.


Kingston, Maxine Hong. The Woman Warrior. New York: Vintage International, 1976. Print. 
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Language Autobiography 2013: Language Is Like A Net

In English class, we had a unit on language and the role it plays in our everyday life. Also we explored the topic of language as the part it plays in our identities. We read many stories about language in other people's life such as Jame Baldwin and Bell Hooks, so we were assigned a project. This project is an autobiographical paper that explore themes in language that connects to our personal life. The theme that I chose to explore was whether language is an advantage or a disadvantage. My language autobiography shows that language can be both of those but it if we learn more about language than we could use it as an advantage. Since language is an important part of everyone's life, we should find ways to use it that would have a bad effect on ourselves.

I had just found out that my grandmother had cancer on Christmas Eve, so my family and I went to visit her. She was so frail and weak. It was like she was a completely different person than what I had remembered. Even though she was sick, she still greeted us with a warm smile and hug. I stayed in her living room watching my cousin play games on the Wii. My uncle walked into the living room and told us to eat pizza. After eating the pizza, we were getting ready to leave.


My grandmother was sitting on the sofa with my mom right beside her. Her face was full of exhaustion and her head was laying back on the sofa. She grabbed my hand and started speaking to me in Chinese. I was shocked because I have forgotten all of it. I was not answering her because I just could not.


“Ahh. Yang nea yay jomoi ma yan mek. (Like this, how is she going to speak with me.)” My grandmother was speaking to my mother.

“She’s just being shy.”

“Ma asked you if you were doing good in school.”

“Yes.”

I couldn’t do anything but stare at my grandmother. I felt like there was an inner battle with myself. I wanted to speak to her so bad but I could not speak. In this moment, I felt like if I was to speak Cambodian, which she could also understand, I would just sound weird and she would not be able to understand me anyway. In my mind, there were things that I wanted to say to her but my mouth stayed shut. I wasn’t comfortable speaking Cambodian nor did I understand what she was saying to me in Chinese. My grandmother continued to ask me questions in Chinese and all I could do is nod my head without knowing what was happening.


At a time like this, I felt like knowing more than one language would be a huge advantage because it will allow me to communicate with other people, especially with people I love. Not being able to communicate with someone that you may not see again because of language is very upsetting but there is no point of knowing more than one language if we are not able express yourself completely. Knowing many languages could also be a disadvantage because of the restrictions it gives us. Sometimes I feel like I have blocked from saying what I want. I’m never fully able to express myself especially in different languages because I often feel like I want to say a lot more but I cannot because saying words in a language besides English feels so uncomfortable.

It is just another school morning for my family and I. It is about 7 o'clock in the morning and I am sitting quietly on the black couch with a red blanket wrapped around me in the living room. The room is dark and the only light it gets is from the bright light in the kitchen.  


Since it was a Wednesday and I normally go to Fleisher’s Art Memorial on Wednesdays, my mom asked, “Lisa, tov art de (Are you going to art today)?”

“No. Not today.”

“Haet ey(Why)?”

“Because I have a break until January 8th. It’s like winter break.”

“Lisa, mommy paep ta i yay khmer. (I told you to speak Cambodian.)”

She always bring this up and I never win when we argue so I just sighed and replied, “Yes.”

“What time are you going to be home?”

“At 3.”

“Again. I said speak Cambodian.”

I wanted to argue with my mom but I could not. She was already complaining about me not speaking Cambodian and I could only argue in English. At this time, I felt like my life would be much better if I only spoke one language because using one more than the other one, I begin to forget words, then phrases and so on and this makes it harder for me to say what I want.

Language is something that plays a big part in everyone lives and can often be an advantage or disadvantage to people. Some people thinks that knowing more than one language helps us express ourselves more but others may disagree and say that it does not help but actually puts a restriction on us. People should used language as an advantage because if we are able to know a language clearly, it would not come as a disadvantage.


Coming from a family that speaks two different language and living in an environment that speaks another language, I had a hard time communicating with different people. Since I was not able to keep up with three languages, I began to forget the ones from my family and only using English because it was the one that I used the most. When I was not able to talk to my grandmother, I realized that if you are bilingual, then you should use it to your advantage by not forgetting it. There are people that pay to learn what you can get from your family, unlike me, I forgot Chinese completely and this caused me to not be able to speak to half of my family.


In the story, “Tongue-Tied” by Maxine Hong Kingston, the main character got her tongue cut off so that she would not be tied to just one language and so that it could be free. Her mother stated, “I cut it so that you would not be tongue tied....”(pg. 164). Her mother felt like cutting off her daughter’s tongue would be the best choice for the daughter because then she would be able to speak multiple languages and not tied all around one. Also the girl stated, “I enjoyed the silence...”(pg. 164). She enjoyed staying silent and I think this is because she does not know how to control language and turn it into an advantage. She speaks two different languages but she prefers not to speak often rather than me because I rather just speak one.


People should know that language is a privilege and if they do not want it to be a disadvantage in their life, then they should embrace it so that it becomes an advantage instead. Language gives us the power to communicate with other people and that is an important aspect in life but it also creates a net, allowing only the little things we want to say through but not the bigger things. In order for us to break this net, we have to be willing to learn more about language. It is like trying to find a solution to a problem, we cannot find the solution until we learn about the problem.

Works Cited:

Kingston, Maxine Hong. The Woman Warrior. New York: Vintage International, 1976. Print. 
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Language Autobiography 2013: Conflict Of Langauge and Society

In this unit, we learned about the power of language. Language is a powerful tool for communication. It can reflect upon one's intellect mentally and the way we see people use language physically. I learned that language can be a struggle for some people because of the existence of various types of language. For my Language Auto assignment, I decided to write about my perspective other people's view when I use my language in a mixed community. Also, this Language Auto tells about my personal experiences on the power of language that we see and interpret everyday.

Sometimes it’s a struggle for me to fit in a certain society because of the way I talk. At home, I speak fluent Vietnamese. However, whenever I am somewhere in public, I code switch from the way I talk at home and in public. I speak English with a Vietnamese accent, that’s the nuisance of my situation. When I was little, I knew no English at all. At home, I would speak Vietnamese all the time, which is a struggle for me trying to learn English. From watching American shows and movies, I started to learn a little English, which was when I started to attend kindergarten. I don’t care if I speak English with a Vietnamese accent because that identifies me as who I am. Sometimes I just wonder what society thinks of me when I am in public or when I don’t “fit in” a certain environment that is outside of my ethnicity.

When I was little, I didn't know a lot of English. I would always ask my brother "Cai do la cai gi?" At times, he would get annoyed because I always kept on asking him question to question, like what is it, what does it mean, or how do you pronounce it. I wasn't able to fully express myself to the outside world  because of my lack of English when I was a little kid.

I recalled back the time when I was in kindergarten,  I had a friend that my teacher, Ms. Jasmine, assigned to me for extra help due to my lack of English. His name is Michael. "Good morning, class!" Ms. Jasmine said. I was silent. "Kenny, what did you do yesterday? Ms. Jasmine suddenly questioned me. I had no idea on what to say, so I turned to Michael. He didn't know what to say either because he doesn't know what I did and I didn't even understood what the question meant when I heard it for the first time.

I felt like an outsider in kindergarten. There are times where I don’t even know what was going on in the classroom. The way how I feel about that now is neutral because it’s in the past. My identity from the past is gone because it doesn’t fully represent me of who I am. I created my own identity of who I am now, from the way I speak and the way how people represent me. In a mixed society, there’s obviously various types of language that can show how smart you are or how you lack intelligence because you couldn’t speak. I don’t agree on the lack of intelligence part. From reading bell hook’s essay, hooks says that “...language is a place of struggle.” People misused and criticized a language everyday, which makes it harder for newcomers to learn. A  place of struggle can be referred to as newcomers coming to a certain environment, where a language is so fluently and respectfully used.

My story of language can be related to the story of “Aria” by Richard Rodriguez. Richard spoke nothing but Spanish at home. He didn’t learn any English until after he was 5 years old. What Richard did to learn English is that his family created an English lesson game. They practiced their pronunciations and looked up meanings to words. I’m different. I learned English by watching American shows and TVs. The relationship between Richard when he was little and between me now is that he felt like an outsider in the outside world because of how people sees him in a mixed community. “They were the others, los gringos.” I felt the same way when I am in a mixed society. Many thoughts came to my mind when I speak Vietnamese to my family in a mixed community. Some of the thoughts includes how people think of me of being an outsider and if people are interpreting the wrong idea of my actions or sayings. Sometimes I wonder what goes through their mind, like am I saying stuff about them or am I trying to do something that worries them.  
Language separates insiders from outsiders, which is why there are neighborhoods that are racially separated. In reality, everyone is an insider. An insider only thinks someone as an outsider when they feel comfortable being in a mixed society. I feel that outsiders don’t exist, we make them exist in our minds because of the way we see people speak or act, which is a part of identifying who they are physically and not mentally. Similar to stereotypes. They are not actually true, they are based on observations. Generally, language and stereotypes plays a major and similar role. Language judges your intellects mentally and stereotypes judges who you are physically. Together, they create something that builds up a unique person, an outsider.

Citations
hooks, bell. Hooks on the Language of Power. New Learning. Web. 11 Jan 2013. <http://newlearningonline.com/literacies/chapter-6-critical-literacies/hooks-on-the-language-of-power/>.

Rodriguez, Richard. Hunger of Memory. Boston: David R. Godine, 1982. Print.
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Language Autobiography 2013: The Words Less Spoken




During this unit, I learned about the different aspects of language and the overall different views on it from a great deal of perspectives and opinions. As this unit progressed, we read analytical short stories and quasi-vignettes from many different authors including Richard Rodriguez, Amy Tan, and more, who spoke of their own deeper analysis of languages and personal experiences. As a wrap-up for the unit, we were given an assignment that entailed writing an autobiographical and analytical essay centered on both revealing one’s own experiences in their life, as well as analyzation of languages. We were given many topics to use as the focal point of our essays such as, code switching, regional dialect, and language versus emotion. Throughout the unit and completing the work given in it, I as an individual took an extremely inquisitive approach to what we read. I was highly interested in the multifaceted characters in the works observed. Mainly because of the unique exposures of the authors. In this essay, I attempted to apply the same characteristics that the other authors had within their stories.




There are many ways in which we represent the different things that were are influenced to how they affect us in every aspect of life, no matter how slight that change may be. This can be any number of things. The people that are around, the places they see and are present in, what they see on tv and the people they are introduced to. Those effects can be observed and narrowed down to the smallest detail. Sometimes, that detail can be as miniscule as the way a person talks around different people and groups. This becomes evident and can become noticeable as more and more people get used to how you talk to them and it can come as a surprise to them if they hear how you talk to other people that you don’t use the same tone of voice and or speech with when you talk to them as opposed to when you talk to that person. Unfamiliarity can be a strange thing. For instance, when you’re meeting someone new, it is always a quick decision on how you will speak to that person. Whether or not you will use your normal voice or something to make you sound more professional or mature. The choices are endless and everyone’s are different. It all boils down to first impressions and creating a persona for yourself.


I have discovered that through time, and through observing by listening, anyone can pick up on the manner with which one person talks to another. Even though at times it may not be apparent, the code switching is still present because everybody does it, no matter how slight it may be. The first time that I started to listen to people when they talk, I didn’t immediately think of it as anything out of the ordinary, but it was peculiar to me how that person’s voice had sounded, in comparison to how it sounded when they talked to me. The first time that I really deeply observed the trait that everyone develops at some point early in their life is when I had involuntarily done it when I was talking to my friends one day. It was about three years ago. I was holding just a normal conversation with my friend, Dave at our grade school. Now, before I get into how I analyzed our conversation, I want to preface my statement with saying that Dave was generally known as a tougher character, one that could throw a pretty hard punch, and take one, too. It was early in the school year, about November or December. Me and a my friend were sitting down in the cafeteria, talking about god knows what. Dave had gotten some of the less than appetizing food offered by the school for those who didn’t bring a lunch from home. Which, when I think about it now, was not worth the money paid for it. He sat down at our table, inhabited only by me and another person. I vaguely remember one of us cracking a joke about something and then I watched Dave look at his “lunch” and grimace with disgust. He then cursed and muttered something under his breathe. We both began to talk about our days and the oddities that tended to occur at our school. We shared laughs here and there and by the end of lunch, I had noticed something about my voice. It had gotten deeper, slightly, and I spoke much more loosely, not caring much for proper grammar or fluid pronunciation. I was trying to sound... tough, I guess is what I would call it then. In comparison to current day, I now call it “making a first impression.” The reason I did this was to... well, fit in. I felt it necessary to do so because I wanted to have that sense of toughness. Now, when I compare that to how I talk to my dad, it’s a whole other story. The words I speak are much softer and completely articulate when I talk to my father. Back to the story. The way I spoke to my friend those years ago, is generally how I’ll speak to strangers when asked a question or just when having a conversation with a store clerk. I always have tried to keep this demeanor and appearance of a tougher person.

The reason that it’s involuntary is because when you become so adept to talking certain ways to different people, it becomes second-nature to us, a passing thought. Not at that specific moment, though. I stopped myself, after I had finished my thought. I noticed that I just spoke in a different tone of voice to my friends... almost out of nowhere. It seemed completely new to me, even though I had been doing it so long - it just never occurred to me because I was unconsciously doing it.


In life, the people we meet and have human interaction with greatly influence and mold ourselves as individuals. One of the very first things people notice when meeting someone for the first time is how they speak and in what tone of voice they do it with. Depending on the impression the person makes, your voice and movement will be influenced. Often times, when a person has become so used to talking one way for a while, they become lost and unable switch their voice when they need to, especially when talking to someone who only knows of their voice one way. The main reason why people in everyday life code switch is to not only develop a relationship with nearly each individual they meet, but to know who they’re around in a sense that they know who they have to impress and who they can be open with. Lastly, people in society use code switching to learn about another person.



Code for Vimeo:


Rodriguez, Richard. Hunger of Memory. Boston: David R. Godine, 1982. Print. 

Baldwin, James. "If Black English Isn't a Language, Then Tell Me What Is." New York Times. (July 29, 1979): <http://www.nytimes.com/books/98/03/29/specials/baldwin-english.html>. 

hooks, bell. Hooks on the Language of Power. New Learning. Web. 11 Jan 2013. <http://newlearningonline.com/literacies/chapter-6-critical-literacies/hooks-on-the-language-of-power/>. 

Tan , Amy. "Mother Tongue." Home is Where the Heart Dwells. N.p.. Web. 11 Jan 2013. <https://blogs.law.harvard.edu/guorui/2008/02/06/mother-tongue-by-amy-tan/>. 

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Language is Identity

During our language unit in English I have learned that language is more than just words. Language is who we are, how we perceive the world, and how we think. Language not only shapes up but can affect us from other people's eyes. I have learned that how you speak is not who you are, but to succeed in the world, one way or another, you must be able to code switch and know how to properly talk. Below is an essay on what Language means to me, how I have been shaped and affected, learned many things, and became who I am based off of language. 



Language is Identity


Language is a tool to get what you need, express your emotions, and to connect with others. It’s the framework through which we all perceive and analyze the world around us. It is a communication that allows us to convey who we are. People shape language all over the world, but it is more accurate and correct to say that language shapes us. People personalities’, thoughts and opinions are language shaped by influences from location, decades, and surroundings. Language has guided me to my own path in life.

I have moved around a lot more than the average bear and I have noticed how language affects people in different parts of the country. When I lived in Berkeley, California, the people talk in a laid back manner, even professional people weren’t so stern. I remember walking into a business meeting at Google Headquarters with my cousin. “As we fix the bug in the system, you know, make sure to get some game on your other assignments. It’s totally cool if you want to work on your 2nd projects for the interlineal system, or just chill and keep working on this one, it’s in your hands,” the boss said to my cousin, and all of the workers in the meeting. They would respond with “alright boss, have a good one. Don’t party too hard tomorrow.” Then they would leave casually and go back to working for one of the biggest companies. I was startled to see this because I never expected a business meeting to go like that. This is just one example of how language really affects people’s personalities. In California, they speak calm and relaxed, and they are much nicer than people on the east coast, as far as I’m aware.

In New York, the people talk in a rushed pace and they pronounce many words differently. They use a very different vocabulary, more city-like, and shortened words. I grew up in New Jersey, so I pronounce words differently than people in the city. Many of my friends jokingly make fun or play around with the words I say. For example, people say bad rhyming with sad, but I say bad emphasizing the a, as if I grew up in the country. I didn’t though; I grew up 40 minutes from Philadelphia. When I learned my alphabet I lived in a rural southern area and so I say my alphabet a little bit differentley. It was hard for me to move Philly because everything was so fast paced and different, but I easily adjusted.

Language and personality does not always go hand in hand, but according to my life that is how it works. My own language is more relaxed and chilled than the people I’m surrounded by, and overall my personality is also more relaxed as well. I don’t let little things bug me, or things don’t really phase me as much as people I know from the city, where things keep going, life doesn’t stop for anyone, it goes on.

The decade, or time you grew up in affects how you talk. Since I have hippie parents I talk like I lived in the 1960s-1990s. I say radical, groovy, solid, gnarly, psyched, get jiggy with it, and stoked. People now-a-days use words like “swag, yolo, jawn”, I don’t get it. I wish I grew up in the 60s or 80s because the language to me felt right. Today when I hear kids speak, I think they sound like uneducated idiots.

Lastly, my own native language is music. Music has been one of the biggest contributions in my life and my path of finding myself. It is a universal/unspoken language in it’s own way. It brings out words people can’t say and brings us together. Music has helped me cope and go through many struggles I have faced. It’s a sense of language and communication that expresses to people that they are not alone, and someone is going through the same things that you are.  

When people think of language they think of words. When I think of langugage I think of music notes. Music can say things that words cannot, when words fail music speaks. “It’s funny how a melody sounds like a memory,” music can trigger senses inside of us more than words can. There are many different types of music, it is a culture. Music has been my backbone and religion for a long time.

It is true we shape language into what it is, but it is even more accurate that language shapes us, and makes us into the lovely people we become. Without our own particular language, we wouldn’t be unique individuals. Language has guided me to my own path in life, and binded the world as one. Without language there would be no way to possibly accept the reality around us. Language is identity.




Citations

Baldwin, James. "If Black English Isn't a Language, Then Tell Me What Is."New York Times. (July 29, 1979): <http://www.nytimes.com/books/98/03/29/specials/baldwin-english.html>. 


Kingston, Maxine Hong. The Woman Warrior. New York: Vintage International, 1976. Print. 
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Language Autobiography 2013: Double Sided

​In my 10th grade English Class we wrote Language Autobiographies. This entailed writing scenes that showed how you communicated. Each person focused on a different topic that went along with language. To continue with our exploration of language each student made a digital story that could go along side their autobiography but was not identical. We each created extremely different projects come from the same main idea.

“I understand what you’re trying to say but...” The most common words in my family. We always start the same, ten o’clock, the t.v. turned off and we’re all ready to go upstairs and slide into our beds. Then someone remembers one last story, one last thing that happened that day. They begin their story and out of courtesy we all stay to listen.

“So, today in class we were talking about women in advertisements.” Today is my turn, I begin but my family only listens with uninterested faces. Yet I know they care, “It said that owning an image of a nude woman is the same as a desire to own the portrayed woman.” They’re listening now so much so that it’s their turn to talk.

“That’s ridiculous,” My mom starts angrily but with a smile on her face, “I mean if that’s true then we own a lot of women.”

“Yeah I know, so I spoke up afterwards when we were talking about it saying that I disagreed and Block responded, ‘So you think putting porn on your wall is different than a nude portrait, interesting.’” I know I’ve lost my story now because they’ve all started talking, saying more or less the same thing.

“He actually said that?” My sister questions, rolling her eyes, “Well that escalated quickly.” This is how it starts, this is how it always starts. And then we get further into the ideas and principles behind the event and we each take our own stance.
“I’ve never understood the fascination with Barbie though,” I start a new side of the argument, “I mean I understand what you’re saying but there are a lot of people who take that too far, I mean you guys let me play with Barbies and I didn’t ever want to be like them, nor do I know anyone who did.”


“That’s true,” my dad starts, ready to counter but my mom cuts him off quickly, “But that doesn’t mean there aren’t girls who do.” We could go back and forth forever.

This is how it always was and I hope will always be in my family. My parents have never told me my opinion is wrong but they often attempt to convince me of their opinion. However because of the argumentative strategies they’ve taught me, I rarely back down, in fact I oppose them as well. Language for me has always been able to give me the ability to oppose and to stand up.

Language can give you the power to convince others you’re right. To explain to them what it means to be you, and what it is you believe. I have always been in an environment that allows me to express what I’m actually feeling. This isn’t to say that there aren’t times or moments when I am not interrupted or yelled at. I just always have someone I can go to to explain what it is that I meant or what I was going to say.

It can and should be this but that does not mean it should always be this. There are times when you need to relax, to be a part of something simpler and easier.

The front door opens as I sit on the couch. I can see who is there, just that there’s someone. “Spies!” I scream towards the shape coming through the front door that I hope is my sister.


“Dinkleberg!” She calls back, confirming it’s her.

“Maybe you should sell me and buy a rabbit instead!” I scream again, sprawled on the couch.

“At least a rabbit would be better than you!” My sister walks into the room calmly.

“I bet it’d be smarter than me too!”

“And quieter!”

“You’d like it cause it’d be stinky like you!”

“Go to your room!”

“I’m already in my room!” I laugh as we finish the scene so often recited by our tongues, the scene from Lilo & Stitch.

This other side of language, the side of love and happiness. The way that my sister and I can speak to each other and know how we’re feeling just by the quotes we say or the songs we sing. We’ve always worked as a unit, knowing where to be and what to say because of all the things we’ve said in the past. However each time is different. Each word can take on so many different forms, creating endless options. Language has connected us in a way nothing and no one else has. Similar to Gloria Anzaldúa in How to Tame a Wild Tongue, “My ‘home’ tongues are the languages I speak with my sister and brothers, with my friends.” This is how I feel when I speak with my sister, I feel at home.

Because of this I am a rare one. I am different. Others do not have to freedom and support that I do when it comes to language. They are restricted and kept in by it. They often do not get the chances that I get to speak out. I do not know what this feels like. I do not know the thoughts that you might think. However, I know how good it feels to have this freedom, and I respect it. I know I am lucky.


Language can transform from something all about power and the ability to stand up for yourself to being able to connect with someone. I have been lucky enough to learn both sides of that in the same household. I have grown up appreciating every word and syllable I and others use and know. I have grown up with the idea that you must be careful with what you say but you must also be willing to take a break, to go “without a filter” as my mother says. You have to know when to say what  you want, what makes you comfortable, and when you must say what you mean.


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