Boys and Girls Ultimate: State Championships
Teams must qualify
“Hello Mr. Chris, how are you today?” I said. Once I had opened my mouth and talked, my whole mind just turned pitch black. If a person were in a room with a bunch of special people knowing that they are focusing on every single move someone is to do, anybody would feel awkward.
“Good day nice weather, come. Come take a seat with us” He said. It was not that noticeable but my legs felt like springs when he had told me to sit down. In my mind I was so happy but meanwhile my nervous side was blocking most of this.
“Calm down, remember he is just human like you.” The lady said I thought to myself and said, “Yea she’s right. Let me just get this done and over with.
“So I was told that you really, really want to come to this school.” Mr. Chris said. I was afraid to answer because he might counter back with another question that I probably won’t be able to answer right. So I just left it off with a simple, but surprising yes. This was my biggest achievement of the year 2010.
Sitting down in the super comfortable chair really helps calm my nerves down. I have to say the way I felt coming in has changed in like only 5 minutes. I felt like I was at home for a second. Then I was knocked back into reality.
“Eric if you could just sign a couple of papers then you would be good to go.” Mr. Chris said. My hand grabbed for the pen, this felt like a good moment. If I would ever write a story of my life this would be in it. The pen went on the paper and so did my name. I was ready for what was coming up for me. I can tell by my mom face she was proud. Even though she kept the same face on I’m pretty sure this was how I felt.
After everything was done I went home, relieved of what I just did. Then I called up some friends to go play ball.
“Yo homie, trina go play some ball today down smith.” I said. I went to go take a shower and packed up all of my stuff and I was out the house. I was happy to tell them some good news but I don’t know how they will take it.
“Yo, guess what. I got accepted to the high school I applied to.” I said.
“Forrr reallll, yo that’s cool”. Friend said.
I could tell he wasn’t happy but I had to do what was best for me. Back in the 8th grade we applied to the same high schools but we didn’t get accepted to the ones we wanted to. Our only choose left was to go to a neighbor hood school. We told each other that in high school no matter what we got each other’s back. But I guess this wasn’t going to be happening anymore. I can tell by his face expression that he was mad but I’m pretty sure at some point he would be like “Well, ya know if ya think it’s the right way to go, then go”.
We played ball until the end of the day then we all just left. On my way home my phone rang, it was my mother.
“Hello Eric.” Mom said
“Yes Mother.” I said
“Where are you at?”
“I’m still at the park playing ball.”
“Well hurry up its 8 o’clock.”
“Ard mom I’ll be home when ever I want.” I said.
“What did you just say, are you suppose to be talking to me like that son.”
“Oh sorry, I meant ill be home in a couple of minutes.”
“Okay well hurry up.”
Honestly I couldn’t understand a word my mom was saying. Knowing two languages and mixing them up gets confusing at times. But that is just how she normally speaks. I feel that we speak almost alike because we both know two of the same languages. Some times my other accent comes out when I speak English and I just have that awkward moment. During my interview this was one of my biggest fear, but I guess being scared of something happening makes it not happen.
Once I read a quote from James Baldwin’s essay “If Black English isn’t a Language, Then Tell me, What is?” the quote stated “there have been, and are times and places when to speak a certain language could be dangerous even fatal” This quote is told me to be careful of what I say and where I say it. Just like the dialogue with my mom and I. It is not fatal but dangerous because it could lead to a habit. What is fatal is me speaking Khmer in front of a bunch of people that don’t know it. The first thing that will go to their mind is that I’m talking about them and could lead to some serious problems.
If you want to know how my family talks, you should listen to my Uncle.
“Yo, was up Josh!” This is a typical greeting from him.
“Nottin chillin, chillin, you know just doin me.” I said, as I was getting up to shake his hand.
“Hey can I use your laptop for a minute? So I can download some music to my iphone…. Really quick.”
“Yeah. It’s over there on the table.”
“Yo nigga how you do this s***!!”
See, I grew up to a lot of people speaking to me mostly in slang and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one. Mostly everyone I have seen grew up with people talking to them in slang, so in a way you can say that slang shows up in everyone’s history. In mine, you would see that we use it like everyday. I was so use to people speaking in slang but as I got older I started to really listen to how I spoke with most of the elders I came across, with them I used less slang and started to speak more proper. Like instead of saying “wassup grandpa,” I said, “Hey grandpa how are you”. This will also show up when I talked with most of my teachers. I would use less slang. Sometimes I would even use none at all. There are some teachers I would talk to in slang but that’s only if they talk to me in slang. The way I respond to people all depends on how they talk to me. To me, it’s funny when I hear one of my cousins talk. He lives in New York and for some reason when he spoke he always had the word “son” at the end of ever sentence. He would say something like “hey wass up,” son or “yo son you better stop playin with me, or I’m gonna f*** you up son”. I always thought that was funny how no matter what he said he always had the word son in it. The reason why I think he used to say son a lot might be because he grew up in an environment where other people did it too. He might have picked it up from someone else too. If you think about it the way people speak can go back generations or even decades.
When people think of speaking proper most think of white people because back in the day, whites were educated. A quote from “Professor Willie Lynch’s Speech,” where he says “Gentlemen. I greet you here on the bank of the James River in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and twelve. First, I shall thank you, the gentlemen of the Colony of Virginia, for bringing me here,” shows this. He says that speaking proper original comes from educated white folks back way back when. Slang must originate from slaves, if speaking proper is speaking like a white educated person. Then speaking in slang must mean speaking like a slave. We can see this in “Her Days As A Slave Famous Speech by Mary Reynolds,” she talks about how her days as a slave were like. She says in one of her paragraphs “I was jus' bout big nough to start playin' with a broom to go bout sweepin' up and not even half doin' it when Dr. Kilpatrick sold me.” When she was speaking it sounds similar to the way most teens speak today.
The way people speak today all depend on how people used to speak decades ago. See today it might be a little bit different the way people speak but it all still comes from the roots of the past. If people in the past spoke differently, then that would have probably made a major difference on how we speak today. Also, in the essay that we reed in class called “If black English isn’t language then tell me what is?” by James Baldwin. It said, “The brutal truth is that the bulk of white people in America never had any interest in educating black people, except as this could serve white purpose.” In this case this shows that since whites never educated blacks in the back days. They had to come up with another way to speak to each other, which creates the existence of the word “slang” because that’s how they used to speak to each other.
The history of a person’s life can really influence how they speak. Since people back in slavery times came up with a way to speak to each other, they still use it today. In personal experience, the people around me speak in slang. So in a way I adapted to my environment. Without history then people today will not have the same type of language we use today.
January 4, 2012
“If I feel this way, why did I conform?"
“You better go clean that room of yours or you’re not going anywhere this weekend Miss lady.”
“Ard, c’mon ma you ain’t gotta be like that.” My mom quirked an eyebrow at me as if I spoke another language at her.
“I said, that you don’t gotta be like that.”
My mom repeated what I said phonically as if reading a dictionary’s guide on how to pronounce words.
“Eye Sed, Dat you doune gottuh bee lak dat.” She over enunciated and rolled her eyes.
“Straighten up. Save that ghetto speech for your friends, you will speak proper in this house. That’s not how you were brought up, talking that way is not cute.” I sucked my teeth,
“How is it wrong? And further more how do you know what’s wrong and what’s not when it comes to the way I speak? Did you create language?” I was insulted. But my mother didn’t want to hear any more of it. So I changed the way I spoke. I always held onto the idea that I would never change who I am or the parts that make me, but I did in fear of judgment. Even though I changed up, I always wonder to myself: Who am I, without my own individualistic ideas and ways? Why isn’t it okay to speak freely? And more importantly, if I feel this way, why did I conform?
The people in my house detest my use of slang or modern gestures; they believe that it is distasteful and therefore wrong. My feelings however, counteract the opinions of my elders. How could it be, when it evolved from the slang of their generations? Who are they to decide on what's proper and what is not? I personally believe that language is what you make it, that’s the point of it. Language was created so people can express themselves. We all have different ways of expressing ourselves, so how could one way possibly be the right way? It isn’t hard to speak ‘properly’- whatever that is- but it’s not necessarily what I want to do all of the time.
My mother thinks that the way you speak can give away where you come from, and where you’re headed like James Baldwin in “If Black English isn’t a language, then tell me what is”. He brings up the same point and talks about how it can divorce you from the public or the major identity. And In a way their both right, if you went to a job interview speaking the latest slang of the streets, you’re more than most likely not going to get that job. This doesn’t exactly mean that you’re not eligible however, or that you’re wrong for showing who you actually are, but it does mean that you’re being judged. I would be lying if I said that I didn’t change my voice up depending on whom I’m around. And here is where I contradict myself, but then again maybe not. Switching around is apart of who I am too. In school, I speak differently than I do around my family. And when I do it, I do it effortlessly
“Yo dawg, you’re not gonna beat me in Tekken, I’mma pick Steve Fox and go in on that ass.” My cousin Vernon says.
“Chill, Christie gonna tear you up, yam’ sayin?” I retort.
This is the typical conversation at any of my cousins’ houses. We play video games and exchange intimidating remarks. At school however, it’s a tad bit different.
“Um, Can you pass me the stapler please and thank you? I need to staple this and get it to Mr. Reddy or he’ll kill me.” I sweetly ask any one of my peers.
“Yeah sure! Here you go.” They may reply. If that were one of my cousins, they would not have been asked so nicely, our conversation would not have been about stapling papers in the first place.
That day when my mother told me that the way I spoke was “not cute.”, I made a mental note to speak proper around her and any other adult. I put a chain on my tongue because I don’t want to be viewed, as something I’m not, even if the way I speak can’t determine what I am. I want to lessen my chances of judgment as much as I can. All in all, switching the way I speak isn’t too bad. I can confuse both adults and teenagers alike, by switching up just a few words. In a way, I have the upper hand in most conversations. In my eyes, that is never a bad thing.
Quarter BM- Language Essay
How Does Language Intersect With Identity?A Sanctified Women’s Bible Study
“Jalen, Jalen it is time to wake up shug. Time to have us some bible study. Meet us down stairs ok shug.”
“Alright Aunt Shirley, coming soon.” I replied politely.
I told Aunt Shirley I would be coming soon but all I can think is; Oh lord, this women is crazy. Calling herself trying to have bible study at 7:30 in the morning, or at least she is crazy enough to tag me along in the religious participation on my vacation. I found her demands to be a little too oblivious to my expectations of what I had planned for this vacation. This is supposed to be my vacation, and I didn’t want to wake up early on a day like this. Just because she is a pastor and all, doesn’t mean she has to be spreading the word of god. She did this so often that it had gotten to the point where she exaggerated every little thing drawing all the attention to her. No one ever paid any attention to me anymore. All eyes and ears were on her.
Some times I feel really frustrated with my aunt Shirley. I love her but I don’t like how she uses up more of her energy pastoring instead paying attention to me. I mean, In my opinion an aunt is supposed to love and welcome their nephew more than she is suppose to lecture and preach about her job and religion. I tried understanding why my aunt was treating me like this but just couldn’t figure it out. I was too annoyed with the way I felt that I just couldn’t bring my self to put myself in her shoes. I understood that my aunt truly believed in what she preached and that she wanted others to as well. But sometimes I come to the conclusion that she loves Jesus more than she loves me.
Nobody is going to want to be around her. She always talks about Jesus. Jesus this and Jesus that, even around others. Not just me. There is a place for everything, and pastoring should be done in the church and not anywhere else.
After I had completed all my thoughts about my problems with aunt Shirley I realized that she was still here.
“Come on Jalen, mama said to come down stairs now.” Aunt Shirley said.
“Alright!” I said, with force.
“Jalen we got some Bojangles, come on here. You betta come down stairs and get you some chicken and then after that we can have some bible study” said Aunt Shirley
I hurried and got ready. I ran down the steps to the kitchen, and I saw a whole bunch of people around the table. I started thinking quietly to myself again “she done called the whole family to the table.” I gagged. All my 50 million cousins were gathered around the table. Ten thousand biblical posters, hundreds of bibles and millions of sermon papers were all over the place. I knew that we were going to be in for a terrible vacation bible school lesson.
After staring at all the biblical work my aunt said,
“Alright how did you sleep last night shug?”
I wanted to say: “I slept good until you woke me up” but instead I answered “yes mam, I slept great last night”, with a satisfied tone of voice.
“Good, now get you sumna eat so we can have us some bible study.” She said.
“Yes mam.” I replied looking at the floor.
I felt doomed and I thought I was in church on a regular Sunday morning, instead of my aunt’s house, but at least she managed to ask me how my night was instead of going on about how great Jesus is.
Like I said before I love my aunt, even though my Aunt is very self-seeking when it comes to Christianity. And when it comes to support and love she is anything but self-seeking. After gorging my face with chicken, bowl berry biscuits and rice I felt this unfamiliar feeling of awkwardness, knowing that it was morning and we were sitting up here eaten some dinner food when it was the morning time. I shoved that thought away I sat down at the dinning room table and she began.
“ The Laud Shall Suplay All Uv My Needs According To His Riches In Gloray. Alrayt Jalen I woon’t you to read the 10 coommandments.“ She ordered like a preacher in a church.
“Yes mam. You must put god first, Respect your parents, Do not be envious of others.” I said bored.
“Oh noooo shug you caint say that, it saays “Do not be envayous of others.” You gotta make sure to say exactly everything that the laud says. We gotta do this one more again honey bunches of oats.” She said stern.
Already I felt as though Aunt Shirley was going to chop me up and spit me out just because I pronounced the words differently than she does. I said everything that the paper was saying and felt like I had a guard on, the whole time as to please her. As I read the paper she knew that she is from North Carolina and that I’m from Philadelphia, but yet she still continued to stagger me about forming my words with a southern accent so as to sound like a southern boy who was living in California like she was. She assumes that, just because I say things differently from the ways she says them that I am mixing up the words of the lord. Her assumptions and expectations are becoming unbearable; she assumes I am wrong she expects me to be a “Christian-holic” like her. I sighed unable to do anything about my disagreement and carried along with my biblical side, reading what she wanted me to.
“You must out god first Respect you parents, Do not be envayous of others, Remember God’s Sabbath.”
“You caint say that baby cakes. The laud didn’t say that shug. He saay’s Remamber God’s Saybbath shug. You gotta get this rioght hun.” She said.
That was when I had just expressed the truth as to how I was feeling about being ordered to pronounce the way I’m not used to. Of course I did it in the most quaint and polite way possible, not to offend her or God but just enough to get my point across.
“ Aunt Shirley, I am saying everything right but you are always correcting me just because I have different dialect than you. I am reading exactly what the paper is saying. When you keep correcting me over small grammatical errors I makes me feel non intelligent. I feel like I am in a spanish class room and every-time I speak spanish I get the accents wrong but this is plain english. I am speaking correct english and the bible was written in plain english. Jesus also known as the “lord” spoke clearly with no accents even though he did speak a different language. We all have different ways in which we speak and I don’t think that it is right for you to keep correcting me over accents.” I finally and conclusively stated my frustration.
“ Well I am so sorry darling. I didn’t mean to be so hard on you and make you think that you are non intelligent. It’s just that I have been speakin’ with a southern accent fo’ many years and sometimes when I hear someones dialact from the east coast it sounds confusing to me shug. I so sorry hun and I don’t won’t you to think that I am a bad aunty. She replied to me apologetically.
“No Aunt Shirley I love you and I forgive you for correcting me. I know that sometimes it is difficult to hear a different dialect from someone and sometimes you want to correct it because it is not familiar to you but just know that everyone are different and you can’t always correct everyone because you may hurt someones feelings.”
“Okay my honey bunches of oats. I will take that in consideration, now I know what to do when something like that happens again. Would you like me to make you some pig feet shug?”
“Yes mam, I would greatly appreciate that.” I said with a smile to her thoughtful offer to make up for her mistake.
My situation with my aunt at that moment reminded me of a story called “The Woman Warrior” By, Maxine Hong Kingston. This was a story about a girl who similarly like me. She was urged to speak “properly” as to what her mother’s requirements were. She did not meet her mother’s requirements and so her mother out of “love” literally cut a portion of her daughters tongue off. In my case it was my aunt that was trying to correct my dialect to the way she talked which was a southern accent, but at least I did not literally get my tong cut off. I only got pronging criticism.
“I cut it so that it could not be tongue-tied. Your tong would be able to move in any language”.
Said the mother of her tongue-tied daughter.
I feel like I can closely relate to the character from the story. Even though my situation was not nearly as drastic as hers. since an elder that she really loved- her mother was nagging her about changing a part of who she was just like my aunt was doing to me.
“Taylor, can you say ‘Can we have a talk after I drink a glass of water’?”
“Can we have a tawk after I drink ae gliass of wooder?”
My sister laughed at me. She looked out the window of the car. I do not mind that she thinks it is funny. I make fun of her accent as well. Her and I have very different backgrounds, even though we both grew up in the same area. She speaks very properly, because she goes to school in the suburbs. She is around people that “Speak with an outstanding vocabulary and superior pronunciation.” However, I grew up around people that speak with a South Philadelphia accent. I grew up around people who “Speek wit an ok vocabalary, and a Sou-Philly pronunciatian.”
Casey was wearing an orange shirt that had yellow polka dots on it one day. I had gotten it for her.
“Do you like this shirt on me?” She asked.
“Yeah Case, but tha poke-a dots don’t match tha piants.” I replied. She looked confused.
“Hello? Aure ya there?” I asked.
“What did you just say?” She asked. I repeated myself. She thought that I had said, “don’t poke the dots, don’t match the pains.” I can understand why that would make her confused. Since we have two different accents, it can get in the way of us having conversations sometimes.
If Casey and I were to be in public together, people can tell that we are sisters when we aren’t talking, but once we both start to talk they are not so sure anymore. We both sound completely different. We only say a few words the same, if any at all. Some of the words are “Mom, Dad, and Straiten.” Our parents notice this as well.
I remember when we were little; Casey and I sounded more like each other. Before I reached fifth grade, we sounded identical. Ever since that year, it was never the same. During fifth grade, I would hang out with my cousin more and more. Today we are almost in separable.
I have a little bit less of a South Philadelphia accent then my cousin, so when Casey talks to our cousin, she has a blast asking her questions like, “Can you say ‘I have to go to Acme?” she would reply with “I gotta go ta tha Ack-a-mee”
Casey finds it so interesting that people can speak so much differently then she does. She is only in seventh grade and she hasn’t really been to places where people have accents. She grew up thinking that the way she spoke was the only way. She only saw people that spoke differently in movies and things.
When Casey was young, she met a man who had a very strong southern accent. She was baffled by how strong of an accent he had. He was a cashier for a grocery store. Casey had gone in with my mother to buy food. He was speaking to my mother and he said
“Good mo’nin ma’am. How ya doin on dis faun day?” Casey’s jaw dropped. She was confused.
“Sir, why are you talking funny?” she asked the man. My mother was very embarrassed at this point. She pulled Casey back and told her that was a very rude question. She did nokjt understand why so she repeated herself. The man laughed.
“Ahm from da souf. We talk lak dis down der.” He laughed.
Even though Casey and I live in the same house, we have completely different accents. We speak the same language but we merely sound different. In James Baldwin’s article, “If Black English Isn’t a Language, Then Tell Me, What Is?” He notes “A Frenchman living in Paris speaks subtly and crucially different language from that of the man living in Marseilles.” This shows that you can speak the same language and talk completely different.
The way you speak and the vocabulary that you use has a big affect on your identity. Some people can tell where you are from and where you grew up by the way you speak. At times they are wrong though. Many people ask me if I am from South Philly. Most of the time I want to say yes, because I am there so often, yet I am from Roxoborough so I cannot say that.
There are many accents in my family today. Casey has a very proper accent, my older sister Devon is starting to get a North Carolinian accent because she just moved there. My mother has a half South Philly accent half proper accent, and my father has a little bit more a South Philly accent then my mom. Casey has gotten used to all of these accents almost but it’s still fun for her to ask one of us to say a phrase every once in a while.
“Are you hungry?” My brother asked me.
“Yeoa, a liottle.., do you have food foe me” I replied.
“Why are you talking like that” he said
“Like what, do I sound funny?” I said very confused
“Yes, you hang around those Hispanics and your picking it up” He chuckled at my funny sound speech.
“It will go away soon when I get home.” I said.
A few summers ago, maybe in 2008, I went to Florida to visit my brother. I wasn’t excited because I didn’t have friends and barely knew anyone. So they enrolled me into a summer camp. In Miami there are a bunch of Hispanics and Spanish speaking people. At camp, I made a few friends that were Dominican. Hanging around with them all day helped me picked up the same accent that they had. When my brother came to pick me up later on that day, I was talking to him and he was questioning where I had gotten an accent. I hadn’t noticed the accent because it sounded normal to me. Except I did notice that he sounded different from me. That was years ago, now when I got to visit him, he and his children have an accent. Looking back at that summer, I was thinking maybe if I had spent 2 years down there, would I have a permanent accent?
When speaking I can express myself. I'm not too pressed on what people think about they way I speak, so I speak saying the things I want to say. Sometimes I have to speak differently, when I'm at home, I have to slow down and annunciate my words. When I'm at school, I slur words and speak very fast. I am comfortable with speaking fast and not too clear. That sounds backwards, but slang is a huge part of vocabulary. I can speak on a level as someone who attends Howard University, although I wouldn't speak like that everyday of my life, that is not comfortable to me. I would rather speak the way I can understand and the way that shows who I am. I am a 15 years old female, who is from North Philadelphia. I also speak like I am a 15-year-old female living in the hardest part of Philly. I mean it’s who I am and where I'm from. “It revels the private identity and connects one with or divorces one from the larger public communal identity” James Baldwin in If Black Language isn’t a Language What is. I feel like James Baldwin and I have something similar here. I speak the way I know how and what is comfortable to me. That is not so much of my private identity, but it is something that I would label my identity in general.
Sometimes when I listen to the way my friends and I speak to each other, I have to stop and think about when we learned to speak like that from, its because we hear is a lot. It’s also because we want to say some things that adults wouldn’t really understand, something like a code. Speaking out loud about something that should be said in front of certain people is ok when they don’t understand you. “…What resource left to them to create their own language? A language which they can connect back their identity to, one capable of communicating the relatives and values…” Glorvia Anzaldua in How to Tame a Wild Tongue. As teenagers we speak to each other a lot about things that don’t really matter, although we have to make it so that were talking about something important. There are many components that make up a teenagers language that not even I understand, but someone understand it.
People in the world speak many different things, but if you don’t understand it do you speak it? Of course not. The deepest understanding of language is to speak what you know, and understand what you can, repeat what you learn.
I am What I Am Because….
“Hey. How was ya day?”
“It was fine mom.”
“What you do?”
“Nothin? How come you never do nothin? Make sure you clean up after that dog, I been watchin ‘em all day.”
“I don’t know I jus don’t. And okay.”
The conversations with my parents are very chill. I do not use slang around them but it is still like having a normal conversation. I was raised to respect my elders, and to keep whatever I learned in the streets out in the streets, which is the reason why I don’t use slang around them. That is what I have always done. I separated my family, friends, and business.
My family is from the south so we use y’all a lot. My parents’ language was never the best either, so I don’t have to try to be proper. I think that it is actually easier to talk with my parents more than friends and siblings anyway. I don’t have to worry about the slang or the cursing, so sometimes it is easier to get my point across.
With my brothers and sisters it’s also pretty chill talking to them to, but it gets really hard trying not to curse in front of them, since most of the time they do stuff to make me want to curse. But I’m not stupid enough to do it because I know that they would snitch on me in a second. Around them I learned to keep my comments to myself, and just say my smart remarks out loud. It pisses them off sometimes but they can’t say that there not funny.
Talking to my friends is completely different. “ Hey girl!”
“Hey boo! What you doin?”
“Oh my God, let me tell you with this n***a said to me.”
“What he say?” “Look at this text message.”
“Oop no the f**k he didn’t, n***a bout to get murked. And what chu say?” “Here girl read it.”
“ Yes! You let him know because….”
When my friends and I are together they bring out my crazy, funny side. Our conversations are hilarious, but we use a lot of profanity and slang. I personally do not use as much slang, but I still have to know what it means, or I will start to feel out of place. Even if it is my first time hearing it if I don’t know what it means I always ask some that won’t laugh at me.
The way my friends and me talk might be confusing for someone that has not been around us that long, just because we don’t always talk. You have to know our signals. Our facial expressions will say it all. We can have a whole conversation without even talking and just by making sounds and giving facials expressions.
I still know how to keep that side of me away from the side that I only show parents. I don’t think my parents would like to see how I act when they’re not around. I do not change myself I just show different sides of myself.
My business/ serious personality is also a main part of my language. Around teachers I have to be respectful because that is what I have always been taught. I keep that same side showing for my boss even though she has known me for years and knows how I act; I still have to keep it professional. I would never use slang, and will always pronounce things correctly and annunciate my words.
Your language is your identity. How you talk makes you who you are. My language is in categories from how I talk to my parents and siblings to how I talk to my friends and bosses. You always need different sides of yourself, because that is what makes you. In the book Borderlands/ La Montera by Giona Anzaldúa says a quote about language being your own identity. “What recourse is there but to create their own language? A language which they can connect their own identity…” p.77.
For centuries people have created their own language to communicate. That is what makes an identity. Slang is like a language created by people to communicate with each other. It’s something that people can choose to use if they want and something that is picked up on. My language is my own identity. It is how I talk to certain people and makes me who I am.
“Howdy, partner! Ya’ll from round these parts? ”
“Haha Ayo Key, pass me thee chips!”
“Ard. Yo I don’t understand why they be talking so weird and they accents oh my gosh!”
“Right they always talking bout us and the way we break things down, and how we speak but the way they speak is all wrong can’t nobody understand what the hell they be saying they need to correct that Shit!”
“Nah Sha, I mean I wouldn’t call it wrong but its just real different from us. I mean other countries just put such strong emphasis on their words or at least too much, I mean I don’t know but that doesn’t mean the way they pronounce it is wrong haha.”
That was the day I actually began to think about languages, accents and the way certain people speak all over the world. When coming across new and different people who pronounce words different from the way we’re accustomed to people always begin to pin point and judge. They may call it “weird” or “wrong”, but the real question is “is the way we speak right or wrong?”
“F’ that Key, yo look dey just speak like outta with too much sound and emphasis or they sound to uptight like something stuck up there nose.”
“Okay’ so if people who speak with different accents seem wrong or uptight what do we sound like.”
“That makes no sense. What if we’re actually the ones speaking and pronouncing things incorrectly?”
“How do you know that, you didn’t create all words and its pronunciations did you.”
“Ard den haha. I mean I’m not gonna lie doe the way they speak, it doesn’t sound regular to me but bet we sound just as bad to their ears.”
“Weird, wrong, incorrect, uncommon!” We use those words not only based off of the way that other speak and the accents they’re accustomed to, but base what’s right from wrong in our minds off of the way it has been "taught" to us. Language is only what people make it to be know one can say a language is right or wrong basing the fact that no one is one hundred percent sure if the way their pronouncing their words is the “right way” to say them.
“Key lemme ask you this, do you think you speak normal?”
“Hell yeah! Haha you can ask anyone that and they’ll tell you they believe they speak normal. Do you think you speak normal?”
“Sho do! Haha lemme stop, I can speak normally, you know full sentences and etc but this is they way I chose to speak. That don’t make the way I speak wrong and people shouldn’t judge me off of it.”
“Okay so that doesn’t make the way they speak incorrect either. You speak the way you speak because not only is that the way that you’ve been taught but since it feels normal to you, you’re not going to change it. That’s probably the same way someone else that you’re judging feels.”
“Shut up Key! Haha you think you smart”
“Ayee’ I’m jus sayin.”
James Baldwlin’s also states in, If Black English isn’t a language, then tell me what is; “Now no one can eat his cake and have it too”.
This means that when it comes down to languages and accents you can’t judge someone else’s without judging your own. How can we call the way someone else speaks incorrect when we’re not one hundred percent sure if the way we pronounce things is correct. Is there such thing as a right or wrong accent, or is it just a state of mind. Should we go around judging people based off the way they speak, or should we be complimenting them on how it’s so different but yet so unique? We should find the positive on what so many people call a negative, and just embrace the different and unique accents we have in our English language. No one man is better than the other, unless ones mind let it be so.
Setbacks of being bilingual.
“Hey! Let’s see… How did you sprain your ankle?”
“Well I was walking and I, I like… Do you know when you are like…?’’
“When you are like what?”
“Like walking… and then you feel like you’re about to fall? What’s another word for that?”
“ Oh yes! That thing…”
This happens to me almost everyday. When I’m supposed to explain something or even talk, I always struggle with some words. Considering the fact that I was born and raised in Puerto Rico, which is a Spanish-speaking country, I think it’s normal for me to have some difficulties with my English, but after a while, it has become annoying. Everybody says it’s good to speak two fluent languages, and that might be true. However, being bilingual also has its setbacks. When you are used to speak only one language and then you have to speak the other, it becomes confusing. It feels so different speaking a foreign language and personally, that creates frustration inside me.
“So how was your day?”
“ Oh, it was so…”
I have it. I have the word right in my mind, but in Spanish. When this happens, all I can do is wait and check if there is any word in English that could mean the same thing as the word I am thinking about. If I can’t think of something, I just say the word in Spanish.
“It was so brutal!”
“Brutal? What does that mean?”
“Oh sorry, brutal means like… awesome or something like that.”
“Oh! That’s good!”
I have those two languages in my head, but mixed. Some words in English with
words in Spanish. All mixed up in my head, crossing each other and coming out
of my mouth when I don not know how to say the same word in the other language.
This leads me to confusion. It’s frustrating when you want to explain something
to one person and you can’t find the words to describe it, or they just come to
my head but in the opposite language. Especially when you want to be as
detailed as possible. That’s why most of the times I just say the first word
that crosses my mind, even if it’s not the correct one or even close to that.
In an essay I read by Richard Rodriguez, he was telling a story similar to mine. He once said: ‘’my words could not stretch far enough to form complete thoughts.’’ This totally describes my daily struggles with English. Every time I try to say something in English, I think in Spanish. When that happens, I try to act like I forgot the word, and just give a brief description or some clues until the other person figures out what the exact word is, but I get tired of that. I am tired of the Spanish getting in the way on almost every conversation I have. I want to speak freely and fluently. Without searching my brain’s ''dictionary/translator'', without thinking that I have to be really careful on what I say and how I pronounce it, and without trying to fake my accent. All that so I can sound normal and seem like I know what I’m saying.
There is a point where you feel that you shouldn’t even speak. I did not feel it until it was the time to speak in front of everyone. The moment when everyone is expecting you to say some words, and you just cannot find them. That’s what makes me want to run, and hide from everyone.
I am tired of sounding like an uneducated person in front of everyone. I hate the fact that I cannot express my self in English as well and as much as I can in Spanish. I feel like I am trapped. I do feel like I cannot express my self anymore. It is so frustrating.
Esto es el primer mural de mi vida creado para la comunidad de Filadelfia. Yo decidí ubicar ese fabuloso mural en 24 y Locust porque hay apenas colores aquí. Es un pequeño lugar donde todos pasan, pero es muy aburrido. Donde vivo es muy divertido; hay muchas personas que son simpáticas y gentiles. En cualquier momento puedes andar en la ciudad para hacer compras, (put 1 or 2 more examples) Por eso me gusta mi barrio tanto. Hay mucha historia en mi cuidad; hay la campana de libertad, Benjamin Franklin y la familia Rittenhouse. La mayoría de los habitantes en mi barrio son blancos y no son muy jóvenes.
Yo pienso que cada mural tiene que haber un fondo, un imagen o persona, y una cita. Para el fondo, debo elegir un color que represente mi comunidad. Debo escoger una persona que es un figura significativa quien tiene valores. Y finalmente necesita una cita que tiene un mensaje importante para la comunidad. Yo decidí que mis colores de fundo serán azul, rojo y verde. Azul y rojo están muy simbólicos para la nación, y son patrióticos. Elegí el verde porque en mi comunidad, el reciclaje es muy importante. Los temas de mi mural son que todos deben admirar las personas que están muy valiente en su ciudad.‘GO GREEN’ también es un tema del mural. La cita que yo elegí es : “Piensa antes de hablar”. Eso es lo que todo el mundo debe hacer exactamente como hicieron todos las figuras significativas.
Para mi, el papel del arte publico es que es una manera de expresar algo en tu barrio, con que no todos esta de acuerdo con. El propósito de los murales es pros crear, etapas para reunir una comunidad en paz. Pienso que mi mural cumple el papel de arte publico, porque tiene todo los credenciales. Tiene el emoción y potencial por cambiar una cuidad. Mi mural es arte definitivamente, no es graffiti ni vandalismo. Se muestra que puedo expresar mi opinión y carácter en forma de arte. El arte es una manera de alejarse de cosas en tu vida y solamente tener diversión. Cada obra de arte cuenta una historia como mi mural. Yo pienso que mi mural es muy creativo con todos los colores diferentes. Eso mural tiene muy diversidad. Eso demuestra mi habilidades artísticos. La parte preferido de mi mural es el collage para la cita. Estoy orgulloso de mi mural.
I walked up the staircase to the Capoeira academy and my stomach twisted up in knots.
I turned to see my teacher walking up from behind me. He flashed me his quick smile that I had grown so used to over the years.
“You’re going to be fine, you know these moves like the back of your hand”
“Yeah I guess…” I said dejectedly.
I was here to take my belt test, something that happened once every couple years. As we reached the top of the stairs, music and a blast a sweaty, hot air hit me and I relaxed slightly. This has been my life since I was eight and the familiar sounds and smells calmed me. Then I saw Mestre Doutor (Master Doctor) get up and walk toward me, dark skin glowing in the half light and I could feel his dark eyes on me from across the room.
“Oi Lobinho! Cómo vai?” (Hey Lobinho, how are you?) He called to me, still standing in the doorway. I tensed my body up, I knew what was going to happen next. He would try to drop me, it was something he had done since I had started Capoeira. Sure enough as he got to me his leg suddenly whipped behind mine throwing me off balance and his elbow came swinging at my head. I ducked the elbow and spun out of the takedown, putting myself at an angle to him and shot a kick at the back of his head. He sidestepped and casually placed his foot at my center of balance and knocked me to the ground.
I got to my feet and said “ Muito bem, obrigado” (very good, thank you) stumbling over the pronunciation as I tried to catch my breath.
Doutor nodded, turned to my teacher and switched to English, a strong accent coloring his words. “Is he ready Lobo Mau?” He addressed my teacher by his Capoeira name. We all get one sooner or later, mine is Lobinho and his Lobo Mau, little wolf and bad wolf.
“Yeah he’s ready”
“Good good” Doutor said grinning down at me. “Lets get started then.”
I walked over to an open space of hard, tiled floor and prepared my self for the test.
“Lobinho!” Doutor called over to me, he hadn’t moved from where he was. “Your test has already started, take this next class and Ill tell you if you have passed.”
I stood frozen in place, I had spent months preparing for this test and he had just changed everything.
“Ok everyone spread out” the class obediently did as he said. “Meia lua de frente” (Half moon to the front) he called out
The Portuguese names echoed across the room, commanding a power of their own as nearly twenty people preformed the move in unison. After nearly two hours, he called us to the front of the room
“Form the roda (circle) Lobinho, come up front.”
I got up and stood next to Doutor.
“Lobinho is testing for his belt, that means he is going to lead the Roda today.”
I stared at him.
“NO!” my brain screamed this is what I had been dreading. Leading the Roda meant I had to play the Berimbau (a Portuguese musical bow) and sing a Ladainha (prayer song) and lead the rest of the roda with different Chulas (songs). It was a huge responsibility everyone was dependent on my rhythm and if I messed up, I brought everyone down with me. I sat down on the bench that had been brought out for me and the rest of the Bataria (where the instruments sit) and sat in its center.
“E! Meior é deus, E meior deus pequeno sou eu.”
The unfamiliar words rang out of me and I began to play. As I continued to sing I realized my pronunciation was awful. My voice had the squeaky tone to it that only adolescents have, lacking the strong, deep sound that I had heard so many times before and that I had been trying to replicate. I almost stopped right there, I felt embarrassed for revealing my inexperience in front of everybody and I didn’t want to continue. But I had to and I was able to finish the test and get the belt.
This truth, the fact that I did and still do hate to sing in front of people and the fact that the only times I do is when I have to sing in Portuguese, strains my relationship to Capoeira, which brings me to my next point. There is an essay that I read by James Baldwin, If Black Isn’t A Language Then Tell Me, What is? that has a quote, which I feel applies to this situation. “This understanding would reveal to him too much about himself, and smash that mirror before which he had been frozen for so long”
I have always been arrogant, I try to hide it but the truth is I think I can do everything right the first time. Singing in Portuguese is not easy, it takes years to be able to do it well, years that I did not have. This made me realize that I have a lot to learn, I’m not the best, not even close. It scared me, scared me in a way that I had never encountered before. This was not something that I could just blow off and ignore. I HAD to learn to sing and lead the Roda.
This happened to me when I was fifteen Capoeira is Brazilian in origin and therefore the names of the moves are all in Portuguese, the masters and high level students are all fluent in Portuguese and the songs and the names of the instruments are also in Portuguese. As a fifteen year old I knew very little, a lot less than I should have of this language and there where many times where I had to get a translator for me to understand what the masters wanted me to do. Portuguese is the language of Capoeira and my lack of knowledge automatically put me even lower level than I had been on before and took away what little control I had over the situation.
In the year since, I have worked hard to over come my fear of singing and by default my fear of Portuguese. I lead the roda with my teacher, Lobo Mau regularly now and even though I still do not have quite the right pronunciation I know that the only way to get better is to practice. The essay that I quoted tells me that there are other people who have been in more or less in the same situation. If they where able to over come their struggle, their weakness and turn it into their strength why cant I?
When starting this project i thought it would be hard to wright. As Mr. Block began explaining to us more the information about the project it begin to make more since. We also watched a documentary on different people and how they feel about others languages and accents. It was cool to hear how outsiders felt about the language i spoke. we also read many stories about different people and the things they went through coping with there languages. to successfully complete this project i had to think about the way i speak to my family, friends, teachers and others.
From the very moment you were born you began to learn your language. that first voice you hear begins to click in your head. For me when I was brought into this world i was brought into what some would call an standard English family. Of course there is a time when things change for everyone. As i began to meet new people and other family members from different parts of the World, my language would change up. Yes, i speak English and only English but different types of it, therefore i cant describe a specific language for myself.
Some people in my family say i have the personality of an old person sometimes. Now if you happen to be one of my friends reading this you would probably not think this at all. When it comes to my family we are very small and close nite leaving only a small portion of younger kids, me, my cousin and my niece. soon i wont be in that catgorey because of my age. Anyway I spend a lot of time, sometimes with my grandparents. The more i am around them the more there sayings rub off on me. I start to act and talk just like them. The difference with this is that it never last long once im not around them i stop talking that way, its not something i prefer but it happens.
When Im with my mom I try to talk a little proper. Only a little. My mom is a little up to date with slang but when i start to speak with slang a lot she does not always know what i am saying so i stop, and go back to talking proper. Mainly because i dot feel like explainging to her what these different sayings actually mean. Also, since in my home there is only my mom and i living there so the two of us have sayings or words that we make up for fun. When other people come around they may not know what we are talking about. A lot of the things that we say may be something silly but that’s how we make things in this house interesting. Also i talk the same way with my teachers.
When i usually go on vacation down south to visit my family I stay for at least two weeks. As they talk in their southern accents i began to pick up on it as well. I pick up on it even more when im with the kids that are around my age. One day while i was hanging with my cousins we were in the backyard playing on the swing set, my cousin broke it because she was to big. We all got scared thinking we would get in trouble this had only been my third day there we all started to yell at each other there accents began to become stronger and stronger. The more they talked the more i started to sound just like them. There accents had rubbed off on me so much just from that day and we started to sound alike the rest of the time while i was there.
I feel like most of the time when i am talking I talk the way i talk with my friends. Also most of the time i am with my friends and that might be why. When talking to my friends we all use a straight up slang dialect there are times when someone may have to stop us and ask what something we say means. Also in all honesty when talking to my friends we use profanity. When my friends and I talk to each other it may seem like we talk as if we don’t respect each other.
This is called code switching. I think code switching matters because it shows how society changes us with little things like the way we talk. Sometimes we don’t even notice it. I think code switching shows that no one is really comfortable with themselves or feel like they have to change the way they are for certain people, and society should not make people feel like that.
Here is an example of how I would talk to friends compared to my mom.
Friends- Heyyy Gurl.!
Me- ayeee wassup
Friend – nuffin much chillen wat chu bout to get yourself into chick?
Me- I don’t even know child lol bout to get on twitter or somethin and hit up some peoples, imma catch you later tho.
Friend – ard peace
This is how I would talk to my mom in the same convo
Mom- Hi ananda
Me- Hey mom how are you?
Mom – im fine what are you about to do
Me- I might get on the computer not really sure. I might call up some friends. I will see you in a bit
Mom ok bye Ananda
When it comes to me I mostly code switch from how I talk to my mom to how I talk to my friends. You can find out a lot about me also when you hear how I talk to my friends. Everyone uses code switching and may not even know it. I believe code switching can teach you a lot about yourself.