Boys and Girls Ultimate: State Championships
Teams must qualify.
I was waiting in the office. It was going to be another one of those conferences. These conferences were always the one event that I never looked forward to even though I knew I had nothing too bad to worry about. My report card looked amazing. It was definitely something I was proud of. I had A’s in all of my classes’ except for Algebra 1, it’s always math that’s my greatest weakness. I’m good at math, just never good enough to get an A. I always get the B. But that was the last thing on my mind. I couldn’t stop thinking about how the conference was going to be like. I was going to have to translate for my dad and my adviser’s back and forth. I hated talking Bengali in front of people whom I usually spoke English with. I just hated that awkward feel. I could just see the looks of my adviser’s when I start blabbering in Bengali for my dad. I wish that I didn’t have to translate in the first place. I mean my family and I have been living in a English speaking country for such a long time, why is translating so necessary?
Both of my brothers and sisters are a hundred percent fluent in English and I think that a lot of the time we think of English as our default language, putting Bengali second. If we could adjust to English so well why couldn’t my dad? I didn’t understand why my dad couldn’t speak proper English.
I was also upset over the fact that my mom wasn’t coming for the conference and that my dad was coming instead. I never really got a long with my dad. I had always preferred my mom. She always understood how I felt and we rarely ever argued. She also knew better English than my dad did, though she still had an accent. Even still, she spoke good enough to go through a report card conference without needing my help for translation. Also unlike my dad, she took ESOL classes a few years ago and she definitely benefited from it. But unfortunately she wasn’t going to be present during the conference. I sighed and looked at the door.
My dad walked into the office. He came over to me and asked where my conference was going to be.“3rd floor, lets go.” I said, tired, sounding like it too.
My dad smiled and nodded at Ms. Diane and headed back out the office door. I followed him out and then stepped ahead of him so I could lead him to Mr. Chase’s room. I knocked on his door and walked in. Mr. Chase and Kay both shook hands with my dad.“So what do we have here?” Mr. Chase says sounding pensive as he looked down at my narratives. “Jasmin, you can start” Mr. Kay said, nodding at me.
I began to talk about my grades and how my hardworking earned me A’s, I talked about when I went to lit/math lab during all of my lunch hours through the benchmark season and how I planned to improve in Algebra by taking more standards the next quarter. After I was done talking I looked at my adviser’s, they smiled and asked me a few questions along with giving me some recommendations so that I could keep up with my good grades. I nodded at my teachers, satisfied with their responses, and unwillingly turned to my dad. He was looking too intently at my report card, I thought he didn’t listen to anything I had said, or even understood anything I had said for the past 5 minutes. I sighed in annoyance, and repeated everything I had already said translating it into Bengali for him. My dad looked at me and the narratives back and forth. He nodded his head when I talked about all the A’s. That’s all he ever cared about. After I was done with the translation I looked back at my adviser's. They smiled.
“Balo corso” My dad said, meaning that I did a good job.
“Great job, kiddo!” Mr. Chase said enthusiastically with a big smile.
“We’re proud of you” Mr. Kay said also smiling widely.
“Thanks” I said quietly.
My dad got up and shook hands with my advisers again. I said bye and headed out the door with my dad.
On the way home I was upset throughout the whole ride. I tried to construct my expression into one that wouldn’t give away any of my hidden emotion that I was feeling at the moment. I didn’t show any sign of dis decency. “Balo corso” that’s all he said. I couldn’t believe it. I worked so hard for the past three quarters in my first year of high school and all I get in the end are two lousy words: “good job?” I could think of so many other things my dad could have said. Things that a parent who spoke and understood perfect English could have said. Maybe something like “You did an amazing job this quarter? I’m so proud of you. Don’t you worry about that B in Algebra, I am a hundred percent sure that you can bring that up with just a little bit more effort.” In my head that seemed to be the perfect thing to say instead of just a “Balo corso.”
As soon as I came home I saw my brother and sister compare their report cards. My dad had picked up theirs just before my conference.
“How’d you do?” My sister said.
“Good, you?” I responded.
“Not bad” She said sounding annoyed.
“What’s wrong?” I said. I could hear the curiosity in my voice.
“You should have seen how my conference went! I had to translate for Abujaan, he didn’t respond to any of the questions that my teachers were asking. And I had to translate the whole time!” She blabbered.
I shook my head and smiled. My sister had basically summarized exactly what had happened in my conference. I think that my dad’s lack of speaking English didn’t just affect me but also my sister.
My dad grew up speaking Bengali and was first introduced to English when we moved to Philadelphia. English as a second language was probably a huge a for him. A change much greater for him, than for my siblings or me. “language spoken in the family, especially in immigrant families which are more insular, plays a large role in shaping the language of the child” said Amy Tan. I think that what Amy Tan is trying to say is that speaking English in a family that that always speaks a different language changes who the person is. Just like my dad, who can be perfectly comfortable speaking Bengali but just as uncomfortable speaking English around those who speak it as their native language. From my experiences speaking Bengali and then learning English along with my family, I can definitely say language plays a big role in my life and it shapes who I am in the different characters that I play in life.
In the beginning we were asked to make a language autobiography about our language. At first I didn't understand what it meant to write that. After I read some other language autobiographies, I somewhat understood what it meant to write a language autobiography. I think that I wrote something similar to Amy Tan's "Mother Tongue" because I can relate to her. I learned a lot about how people think what languages are and how different we speak even though we all speak english.
I might still not be an adult now, but I know the experiences of becoming an adult. I was burdened with the responsibility to become my parents, or rather answer the phone calls as them, in the early course of my childhood.. At the time I was only 8 or 9 years old, my parents mostly spoke broken English and I answered most of the calls that came from anyone that was speaking English.
As I was the one going to school in America and spoke English for more than 7 hours a day, I would be the ideal candidate to answer the phone. I was forced to answer all the calls if the call spoke any kind of English. I would be the one answer the calls because my parents were afraid that the caller would take advantage of them not being able to speak English well. Most of the time I had to make up an excuse that “I” was busy. Most of the calls would go.
“Hello is Mr Le there?”
“I’m terribly busy, I can’t answer right”
“When will you be available?”
“Try again tomorrow at lunch”
After I would hang up the phone, and my parents would ask who called and what did they want. At times I would answer important business calls for my parents, because they wanted to make sure that there weren’t being fooled or conned. My dad would claim that the people who called were mostly asking for money for them or their organizations. The first time that I answered one the calls that was meant for my parents, I was nervous that I would mess up. What 8 or 9 year would answer a phone that could be a very important business. All I wanted to do was do my homework and play with my legos or watch TV. After the first call, I thought was all over, no more calls I would have to answer. Eventually when someone called I was always the one to pick it up, no matter how far I was or how close my parents were. Sometimes I would have to run across the house to pick up the phone, other times it would simply be next to me. I didn’t that I would have to answer a call from a complete stranger in my living room, pretending to be my own parents. What I wondered is that why would the callers push on and still call although. I have denied them so many times. The same thing would apply when we would go shopping; sometimes I had to ask for my parents how much this or that was because they could understand English that well or I had to say It for them because of this broken English. Although my English wasn’t like what it is now, I was able to speak clearly and everyone was able to understand me. Now I’m able to speak clearer and with better grammar. When I speak it doesn’t really show that I’m from Southwest Philadelphia because I don’t tend to use any slang when I speak.
When I was in the position of being my parents, I didn’t feel comfortable because I wasn’t doing something a kid would do at my age. I would have to impersonate my parents when somebody called. I think that influenced the way that I speak now. I think that by speaking properly at a young age, it influenced me to try speaking without any slang. Answering phone calls repeatedly I would have to speak with Standard English to sound like an adult. I couldn’t just speak the way I would if my friends, I would have to speak formally like if I were talking to a teacher or someone important. I think that made me changed the way I spoke even to my friends. Over time I noticed that I got more formal even with my friends and family. I did start getting less formal with my friends but got more formal when talking to adults or symbols of power. I think that when I became my parents when I was younger I was trained to talk in a formal way so that the caller could not recognize that I wasn’t my father.
Most of the time I would code switch between my friends, my parents, and other adults. I think that code switching is important because if were we to speak to adults like we do to our friend then it wouldn’t fit in. We couldn’t just talk to anyone with slang, if an important guess came to visit you would have to speak properly to show a good first impression. When we speak to our friends, we tend to be less formal then we do if we were talking to any adult. It’s important also when you talk to your parents and when you talk to teachers. You can’t just ask the teacher a personal question, like you would ask your parents. Like in “Mother Tongue” by Amy Tan, She talks differently when she’s near her mother or husband. When she’s around Americans, she uses sophisticated phrases Asking a stranger wouldn’t be normal, that’s why code switching is important. Code switching lets us to change our speech depending on where and who were talking to. Everyone code switches everyday, Husbands code switch when they’re near their wife and vice versa, Friends code switch when an adult is around. Everyone code switches at least once a day
Tan, Amy. Mother Tongue. National Council of teachers of english,
Language can give so many first impressions of a person. If a person speaks broken English, you automatically assume they don’t know much. If a person speaks with accents, you assume that they are not from the area. The tone of their language and how they use also affects the assumptions people put on the way you speak your language. The way I see it from my family experiences, “broken English” is basically a “simple” version of English.
The way I showed my language in descriptive scenes was a large part of my autobiography. The dialogue really gave the reader what happened in the moment. The dialogue shows the embarrassment that happens when broken English is spoken in public. I really had a hard time figuring out what the broken English in my family meant, but as I started writing out my scenes I figured out that broken English is a simpler version. Overall, I learned that the broken English used in my family is basically a “simple” version of Standard English that your family and you use to understand each other.FINAL
“Cái nay lam sao?” How do you work this? My cousin said in Vietnamese.
“You turn on the...” As I said those words, I remembered that my cousin couldn’t understand or speak English. I tried to think of Vietnamese words that will translate from what I wanted to say in English.
“You mo cai len” I said nervously.
My cousin’s confused facial expression made me give up on trying to speak Vietnamese to him. I decided to show him through my actions. I took the remote and showed him where the power button was. I took his hand and pushed his finger down on the power button. The TV turned on, and then he realize how my TV and remote works. Vietnamese was my first language, and I would use it talking to my parents, aunts, uncles, and grandparents. After he left my house, I realized that my Vietnamese is not as good as it used to be.
I noticed that you start losing your language overtime, because you use it less and less everyday. Overtime I knew that speaking Vietnamese was going to be horrible, because of everyday English use. It’s like an exchange student from Puerto Rico coming to America. The student has no choice but to speak English in school. Once I went to school, that’s when my family started to use English to help me in school. My dad started speaking English regularly to me in the house, so everyday I speak less and less Vietnamese. I grew up with Vietnamese and English. Vietnamese was my main language, but as I was exposed to English. I started losing my Vietnamese tongue.
There are many versions of one language. Everyone grows up learning what language they speak by the peers around them. People get used to speaking their family’s native tongue, but when they are in public, the tone of the language, choice, and pronunciation of the words are different. People would speak the way their language is used in their home, but in public they speak Standard English.
Translating was very difficult for me when I was younger, and it still is. I’m not very good at speaking Vietnamese. Whenever you speak Vietnamese or any other language besides English, some letters are pronounced in a different way. For example, in English the letter “a” is pronounced “aye or ah”. In Vietnamese “a” is pronounced “ow”. Whenever I speak Vietnamese, I pronounce the words like they are in English, some of my family can understand, while others have no clue what I am saying. I was always better at understanding Vietnamese than speaking it. My grandpa would always ask how am I doing whenever I go to his house. I would always try to say “I’m good” in Vietnamese. My grandpa would say back to me “No understand”.
My family speaks a lot of broken English, therefore I grew up speaking broken English to my family. I get frustrated whenever my family can’t get their point across speaking broken English. I get annoyed when people ignore and act like they know what my family is saying. They just say “Okay” and nod their heads, but I can tell from their confused expressions that they have no idea what my family is saying. In my mind, I feel that people are judging my family, because they can’t speak proper English. It doesn’t mean that my family is ignorant; they just can’t find the right words to express their thoughts. The embarrassment is not really a big issue for me, but I feel sympathy towards my family. I feel the need to step in and say what my family can’t say.
On my way home from school, my dad decided to get some fast food for me. He stopped by McDonalds, and we both went in to see what they had on the menu. “Hello, what can I get you?” asked the cashier.
I have numba won laaarge, with Coke?” my dad said.
“Can I get number two medium, with Coke?” I said.
“Okay, here’s your receipt. Your order will be with you in a sec.”
As we got our order, my dad wanted some barbeque sauce. He went back to the cashier and asked her for some sauce. “Can I have baabeque saut?”
“Excuse me?” The cashier looked at my dad like he was crazy.
“Can I have baabeque saut?”
“He said he wanted some barbecue sauce” I said strongly and annoyed.
“Dad, come on. Let’s go.”
“Okay Kenny. Why you rush?”
I felt embarrassed for my dad. The look that strangers give my dad because of the way he speaks makes me angry. I became frustrated at my dad, but I hid the frustration. I feel this way, because I don’t want anyone thinking my dad is stupid. People are always making assumptions about how bad people are speaking their second language. I know my dad speaks in broken English, and he tries his best to pronounce the words right. When he speaks in the public and can’t get his point across, I get frustrated and annoyed. I get embarrassed about the way he talks English to strangers. I try not to show him that I’m annoyed, because he can’t help but to talk broken English. At home it doesn’t really matter how my dad speaks because I don’t pay any attention at how he speaks. I understand his broken English, but others do not.
“The English I spoke with my mother, which for a lack of a better term might be described as “simple”; the English she used with me, which for a lack of a better term might be described as “broken”. - Amy Tan
The way I use English to speak with my dad could be called “simple”. To me, I realized it’s more of a “short-cut” than “simple”. I would shorten the usage words in my sentences. The English my dad uses to speak with me is “broken”. My dad asks me “I go to store. What you want from store?” Instead of saying “Can you go to the store and buy me milk?” I would just say, “Buy milk from store”. The English I use to speak with my dad could really be called “simple”, because it’s not how I talk in public. It’s just how I talk in my family, so that they can understand me.
Being who people want you to be, who you think you are, and who you are, are completely different things. Being who you are means expressing yourself, being the person you want to be, and doing the things you want to do. Being who you think you are means that you are unsure of who you are and you try to be yourself. However, yourself, your personality is being compromised by what people want you to be. Being who people want you to be means that you are completely compromising your true desires to please the people around you. Ultimately I have experienced all these things. The pattern of identity is different for everyone. Some people are themselves at one point of their lives and change into the way people want them to be. Some people start off as who people want them to be and change into who they truly are. And some people go back and forth between the three levels. I was who people wanted me to be, who I think I was, and now I am Dejah.
It all started with the way that I talk and where I come from. I am from Germantown, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. My family that lives in Philadelphia lives and or grew up in the more dangerous neighborhoods. They talk very differently than I do. We all have the similar Philadelphia accent of saying water ad “wader”. However, their grammar and way of speaking is more southern and old than mine is. They say that I talk “white” because I talk properly.
My mother and father are the entertainers of our family. We have cookouts all the time. We held one in the summer of 2008, the summer before I switched schools, and the entire family was there. Everyone sat on chairs facing tables on the lawn. My little cousins were running around everywhere and playing in a blow up pool on the sidewalk. I was sitting on my stairs waiting for one of the older women to ask me to get them a glass of water or come up to me and say “ OH MY GOSH SWEETIE! YOU GOT SO BIG! How ya doin?”. And I would answer with the same response, “I’m fine”. I didn’t say this because I couldn’t hold a conversation with someone in my family but more so because the way I talk offended them.
If I were to have a conversation with one of my aunts they would either tell my dad how well I speak or that I talk like I think that I am better than they are. I do not think that at all. I talk with proper grammar because that is the way that I was taught to talk in school. I guess I talk the way that they feel like they are being talked down to. They never want to talk to me because of this. Therefore, I get talked about and now have the nickname Oreo, black on the outside white on the inside. Instead of fighting it and being who I wanted to be, I gave in and compromised to my family. I don’t talk improperly I just don’t talk at all. This is my way of being who they want me to be because it is easier than being myself.
Things started to change when I changed schools in seventh grade. At my old school I was judged for talking the way I did because I went to an all African American school. I looked at this new school as a chance to start over in a new place where people don’t know me and can’t make any judgments. The school I went to was more diverse so it was better. I was still talked about because of the way that I talked. However, I started changing the way I dressed and acted. The way I dressed changed because I would buy anything I thought was pretty but nothing that went together. I owned this look because I thought it was “me”. People started talking about the way that I dressed and I thought I had to gain friends back so I started to be a little bit different to earn respect from the popular people. I was so set on who I was at this time. I thought this was just the way that I am going to be for years. In this case, I was being who I though I was. I was acting slightly in the way I wanted because, for years, I was not able to be the person that I wanted to be. However, the way I was acting was not fully “me”. My way of thinking was being compromised by the way people wanted me to be.
until Fall of 2011, I was not fully acting myself. Now I am one hundred percent
Dejah. Although some people in my family hate vintage clothing, I love it. I
love thrift store shopping and knowing that there is an unknown story behind
every piece of clothing. I dress the way I want to dress. I do my hair the way
I want it to look. I care about people feeling and try to be as nice as
possible. However, I do not let that impact my life to the point where I am
completely unhappy. Everyone has changed throughout his or her life. But at
this point in mine, I am “me”. I am not who people want me to be. I am not who
I think I am. I am Dejah and will forever be Dejah.
III. Digital Story
This story is a revelation and I reflection that I had about my life.
I. Ethan ReeseCopper
The project was to write a story about a struggle that had to do with you and language. Your overall goal was to link your story to a larger Idea about how language is power or other themes of language. My theme was about how when you take a persons voice away you’re taking away so much more, and there were parts that were easy but parts that I had to struggle. One of the parts that were easy for me was conveying a message about how easy it is to lose your confidence and all social life if your voice is repressed enough. Something I struggled with was trying to remember more than two times that my voice had been repressed, and how to describe the scenes I could only remember a little. What I learned from doing this project was how every language and every voice is important to someone else, imagines all the things that would have happened if historical people didn’t speak out. I can truly say I have a better understanding of language.
My mom again growing up in a German household spoke German and English she proceeded to be just as overpowering and leaving me out spoken as the rest of my family. So I was always shy in middle school. I was the kid who sat their and talked to his two or three friends and did his work up until 6th grade, this is when I really think I found my voice. For some reason it seemed to be an instant switch in my family that they stopped speaking German around me and started talking in all English when I was around which gave me the courage I needed to go to school and be more vocal and find a voice that worked for me.
The first day In my new school 6th grade I decided that I was going to speak out and be heard by everyone and everyone I could, but I spoke so proper and neat tight English. When they spoke in dialects and slang that I didn’t understand. Even to this day I didn’t understand it, so I had to learn to talk like they did I started picking up slang and ways of talking around them and than at my home I switched back to speaking proper. It was a balance not easily kept in both groups the other slang and dialect popped out and I hoped they wouldn’t notice. I kept this act up as long as I could, but it got tiring of being two people all the time, I had to find a voice that could fit me but everyone could understand. So I set out on my quest to find my perfect voice.
Of course I couldn’t just change my slang and voice in one day I had to try thousand’s of different ways of talking, Southern, Ghetto, Proper, even trying to do impressions but none of them worked for me I went back to being that quite kid in school who all he did was work.
My teacher confronted me about it and asked me if their was something wrong. I replied saying “ Mr. Q. I’m so confused its so tiring pretending to be two different people when I go home I put on my good little boy talking proper act, but than whve to change my voice back to talking like the rest of the class. I can’t decide which to keep and which to get rid of please help”.
He said to me “ Ethan, I can’t tell you to speak in a way that represents you. I can set you on the path to it though. When you talk inside of yourself how do you talk when you think how do you think. These are the things that make your speech pattern, I can’t teach you how to think any the less more than how to talk, I can teach you the words but the rest is up to you”
I realized how right he was, my voice isn’t something that can be learned or unlearned it’s something that is forever existing inside of you, it is your thought it is your attitude, it is who you are. My voice was found and ever since than I have never had a loss of words, I have never been talked over, and I promised my self my identity would never change again just like my voice.
So that brings us to present day, my family listens to my thoughts and feelings even though I don't speak German and I’m confident enough to overpower their voices, as for my friends I have ones now that understand what I’m saying in my own voice. I now have a deeper understanding that language is identity it shows who you are under all your layers it is how you talk and form your self, I can truly say I have found my Identity... I can say I have found my voice.
The purpose of this project was to create a language autobiography. In this biography, we explored our ideas about how you speak a language and how it affects how you live. In this project, we wrote about our past experiences with language, and how are lives are different because of it. In my autobiography, I discuss the way that language not only affects how you speak, but also, how you think and act. In this project, I had a difficult time relating past experiences with the project.
Ryan Shaw December 22, 2011Language Autobiography BM
Many kids are born into a family that speaks a foreign language. They learn the language of their parents and, in most cases, also learn the language of the country where they grow up. These children may seem to always have an advantage. We think that these bilinguals have a extreme advantage over others, mostly because they can think in two different languages, and their vocabulary is almost doubled. This can may be untrue however. In some cases, kids who are bilingual, or even trilingual, are affected by how they speak one language, by another language.
One example is when I was helping my Vietnamese foster cousin, Julia. She was having me edit her science paper and I noticed something, so I asked. “Julia, what are the differences between the sentence structure in Vietnamese and English?”
“Vietnamese has a different way of saying prepositions.” she said. So I re-read her paper, and I realized that the majority of mistakes that occurred were related to prepositional phrases. While this is just an small example, I’ve seen this in my other Vietnamese cousins, and I realized that it even affects the way that they speak. “If it affects the way that they write and speak, then could it affect how they think?” I asked myself. I dropped the idea at the time, but talking about language recently, has brought it back to my attention.
In the example, I realized how language might affect the way that we think, and I asked myself, Could it be that language affects not just how you think, but also, what you think?. I realized that I might be right. A little after I edited my cousin’s paper, I read 1984 by George Orwell. In it, there is a new way of speaking that the oppressive government is slowly forcing on its people, called, ‘newspeak’. A specific quote is from one of the supporters for newspeak in the book, “By 2050—earlier, probably—all real knowledge of Oldspeak will have disappeared. The whole literature of the past will have been destroyed.” Chaucer, Shakespeare,Milton, Byron—they'll exist only in Newspeak versions, not merely changed into something different, but actually contradictory of what they used to be. Even the literature of the Party will change. Even the slogans will change. How could you have a slogan like "freedom is slavery" when the concept of freedom has been abolished? The whole climate of thought will be different. In fact there will be no thought, as we understand it now. Orthodoxy means not thinking—not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness.” -1984. This language is designed so that one simply doesn’t have the vocabulary to speak and think things that could be negative to the government. While I don’t think that other languages purposely do this, or that they are this restricted, I do think that certain languages allow you to only think in certain ways.
Another example is for Spanish, and the other Romance languages. Most other languages have the sentence structure of adjective-noun; In Latin languages, it is noun-adjective. This can also mean a different way of storytelling, tones, and even how the speakers talk.
This can be malicious in certain cases. Whenever I get a translation, I am always told that one word, “Is like...” then a meaning. This is because they never have a direct translation. It is hard to convey information this way, and the very foundations of communications is fragmented by this fact. The way that people speak has more to do than just communication however. If you only know how to think by using certain words, then you are virtually forced into thinking or not thinking certain things. This can affect how you act, and how you think.
1984 by George Orwell
This month in out English class, we have been studying something called language identity. language identity is your connection to your culture through the language you speak. This point of this Project was to look at our own language and how it ties into who we are. In my paper i decided to focus on how unique language evolves in the first place by relating it to my own experiences. I think that my paper did a good job of explaining where the language we speak comes from, but i could have maybe worked my own connection to this language into the paper a little bit more.Final Paper:
Language evolves with greater variance than anything else related to background or identity. One of the best ways to truly understand some one's background is to learn to how to speak their language. But sharing language goes deeper than most people realize. In many cases there is language that you share with your family that isn’t spoken by anyone else, even if at the core it is the same language everyone else in your culture speaks. As this language is passed down from generation to generation it deepens the family’s culture, becoming more and more unique. Unique language and culture help create the fabric of community.
Unlike religious traditions or material possessions being passed from generation to generation, language is passed down casually, often without realizing it. Two years ago, around Christmas time, all of my relatives on my mom’s side of the familty, including myself, were gathered at my aunt’s house. We were all sitting in the living room playing with stocking content that we had joyfully dumped out over the floor that morning. There was every corny little toy you could think of being used by my sister, my cousins, and me. You haven’t been entertained until you’ve seen a room full of twenty-somethings argue about who really won a slinky race.Fifteen minutes of hysterical laughter later, my cousin noticed my aunt’s collection of keepsakes on the piano. The collection included everything from giant plastic jellybeans to nesting dolls to snow globes.
Language like this is almost never intentionally created. It arises out of the need for clarity or understanding or just plain ease of use. Ever since I can remember, my family have been fans of quesadillas, especially when my sister and I were little. What better lunch is there for a 8 year old and his three year old sister then two pieces of cheese wrapped in a tortilla and fried? It was something we both liked. Soft enough for my sister, just now getting her molars in. and bland enough for me, picky eater that i was.
The only drawback to this was every three year old comes guaranteed with difficulties pronouncing new words. You have not lived until you’ve seen a toddler try to say quesadilla. Or better yet an adult try to teach them how.
When what to have for lunch became a 10 minute discussion, most of it gibberish, we decided it was pointless to call them by their original name. within a few weeks within a It’s funny when you think about it, but what my sister and I were doing was not unlike what many scholars and scientists have done for centuries. She saw something she knew nothing about and decided to name and define it herself. While she didn’t use Latin prefixes or a numeral system to classify it, the general concept is still the same.Thing’s like this happen within every form of culture, not just family. Wherever you look, you can see languages developing. At the Science Leadership Academy we have Quarterly Projects that we call “Benchmarks”. Even though almost every school has projects, they are only called benchmarks at SLA. It is special words like “half moon sandwiches” or “benchmarks” that help define culture and bind people in community.
I. Intro and Reflection:
During this project, I had many struggles. I describe some of them in the essay itself. Other than the ones in the essay, I had a hard time finding out what I wanted to write about, or what I could even write about. After I figured out what I wanted to write about, the hard part was narrowing it down to fit in 750-1000 words. I learned a lot of different things about my own language identity. I talked about things like how my mom grew up in the south, how I had speech therapy when I was little, and how code switching has effected my life.
II. Final Essay
When I learned that I was going to have to write a language autobiography, I thought I was never going to be able to do it. I thought that I was doomed because I was taught to speak proper and correctly my whole life. When we were reading about people who had large opinions on language identity and what language was, I couldn’t relate to any of them. I never thought about language and I never really needed to. My family didn’t come from a foreign-speaking place, I didn’t have to translate for anyone, and I didn’t have any family members who spoke with a heavy accent or bad grammar, dialect etc. I was so worried that I had nothing to write about. Then something hit me. I had tons to write about! So, that being said, let me start to tell you about it.
When I was growing up, my mom always told me to speak correctly. As I got older, she would correct me if I didn’t pronounce a letter or syllable or anything else in a word correctly. Sometimes I will keep saying the word wrong and she will yell at me. I always get really mad at her because I feel like home is someplace that I should be able to talk in an informal way. Instead, I have to talk like I do in class. I never thought about it too much until we started talking about language in English class.
When I was getting ready for school one morning after talking about language in class, I started talking to my mom. I told her that we had been talking about proper English and stuff like that. When I said that there was not really such a thing as “proper English”, she flipped out on me. She said that there was defiantly such a thing as that. She told me that she doesn’t like bad grammar or other things like that coming from out of my mouth. When she flipped out, I got really angry. We probably both over reacted because it was so early in the morning but I can remember how I felt. I balled my hands into fists and I felt like throwing the hairbrush I was holding at something.
“Why are you flipping out? I just really hate when you yell at me just because I said something wrong!” I yelled at her.
“I want you to make sure you never slip a slang word or something similar to that out during something really important like a job interview” She shouted back.
We both argued about the same thing until I stormed out of the room, my head filled with rage.
When I was in the car going to school, I remembered that we had been learning about the fact that “standard English” existed. We never said anything about “proper English.” I felt really bad. Throughout the day, I realized that I did have lots to write about in my essay. I could just write about what it was like to have to speak proper.
Even though I speak pretty well now, I don’t have the greatest history with language. My mom grew up in Louisville, Kentucky and she mostly lost her southern accent when she came to Philadelphia for college. My grandmother (her mother) lived in Kentucky her whole life up until this summer. When my mom would go to visit her, she would always have a strong accent again for about 3-4 days. Sometimes you will hear me say certain words they will have a slight accent on them.
A very large issue I had with language in my life was when I was little. I had very bad speech. I don’t remember it much because it stopped after I was five, which was after I had speech therapy. I could not pronounce a lot of words. For instance, I would pronounce “no” as “go”. As you can imagine, because those words are complete opposites, it never ended up well. If I wanted to say no to something it would come out so that it seemed like I meant yes. It was hard for people, including my parents, to understand me.
Even though I might talk really proper at home, I still use slang and a bit of bad grammar when I am talking to my friends. Mostly, we have words or phrases that only we say. Words often start out as something that only one of us said. Then the rest of us would catch on. I have noticed that this happens a lot with everyone. We get it from our friends, family, and even the internet.
I think that it is really important for all of us to know how to code switch. Code switching is when we talk differently in different places. For most people, they speak more formally in school, in a job environment, and presentations. The talk however they are most comfortable when they are with their friends and family. With me, its changed a bit. As my mom said, she wants me to be able to code switch easily and that’s why she wants me to talk properly around her. In the essay Mother Tongue by Amy Tran, the author says that the limited English limited possibilities in her life as well as in her mother’s. That’s what my mom doesn’t want to happen to me in life.
Before this assignment, I never thought about any kind of language identity. I’m still not positive what mine is quite yet, or if I even have one. But I know that I am in the process of figuring it out. I might even have multiple ones. I do know one thing for sure though, I once thought I didn’t have a story to tell with language but now I know I have a huge story. It’s just still in the process.
Tan, Amy. "Mother Tongue, By Amy Tan I Am Not A." Scribd. N.p., n.d. Web. 6 Jan. 2012. <http://www.scribd.com/doc/13297165/Mother-Tongue-By-Amy-Tan-I-Am-Not-A>.
At first I didn’t think the project would be difficult to do. But as soon as I started to get into the paper I realized that it’d be harder then I thought. How was I supposed to write something about language when most people atomically assume that I’ll speak once I open my mouth? This often made me think about how when I’m at home the way I speak, but when planning for interviews I like speaking over the phone first so they can at least give me a chance to impress them without them judging me by my looks or race. But during this project I learned that if your courageous and optimistic then things might not always be the same. In other words, people will start thinking more highly of you, and depend on you more because of it. I was always kind of afraid of what people would think of me because of my race. And most times I would shun the fact of speaking “black”. But now I realized that it’s fine that I can code switch. While when I do talk “black” it isn’t a ghetto way. I’ve realized that no one will ever be able to be his or her selves because the world as one expects too much from one person to be like everyone else.
Language is a funny thing. It either helps you be accepted into a group of friends or a job, while other times it can make people deny your existence or just deny yourself. To me, language is a beautiful thing. And it’s even better when you know a lot of them. Language is like trying to perfect an old family recipe, it takes time, but it’s fun experimenting with the thing you love the most. It’s what defines you for you and not how others would group you into the same stereotype because of the way you look.
There are 6,500 languages being spoken right now as we speak.
What most people don’t know is that language is actually a beautiful song that a lot of people can sing, it’s very heard to learn for people who want to understand other languages. There are years of practice that others have to go through that’s behind the secret of singing the song of language, but not all languages take years. Some languages are just slang that can be picked up anywhere in any continent, in any state, and in any language when you’re around a certain type of dialogue for a long period of time.
When your around a language for a long time, you eventually start speaking and sounding the same way as the people you were around. In my situation, my language is slang. I don’t always speak slang, but I do understand it. As my brother likes to say, “All coons should know how to translate Ebonics.” When needed I can be as proper as the world wants me to be, but when alone, with friends, or with family I can speak freely as much as I want because I won’t be judged or looked at funny for it. Either properly or with slang or mixed with a little bit of both. An example of this is when I was in my room trying to sketch out a design on my bed “por Español mañana” (For Spanish Tomorrow).
It was comfortable and I had my laptop right in front of me listening to music. My legs were crossed as if I were a pretzel and that’s when my brother walked in. “Can you help me with my Spanish?” he asked with confidence. I looked at him with a strange lift of my eyebrow.
in Spanish 2 just like me. Why do you need my help?” I stated.
He protested me with jokes and small talk more and more until he finally got a “yes” out of me. He explained what his task was for the Spanish project he had to do where he stood in front of the side of my bed.
He began to ask me how I would say simple sentences in Spanish. I started to slowly tell him because I was new at it too but he quickly cut me off saying, “Look dawg, and just type it into Google so I can just get this over with.” I grew angry.
I thought “why would you ask me for help if you were only going to cheat?” Why even bother explaining things to me? I sat there quietly while he typed his directions into Google translate and mumbled from time to time, “Oh, I should have knew that” or “I’d learned that already.” He began to try to start small talk and I just kept answering him with a couple of, “I don’t know” and “The translator is right there”.
My brother began to stopped smiling and eventually stopped trying to make attempts to cheer me up with the method he was using. He looked up at me from re-writing the Spanish translation onto his notebook and said, “Why you always gotta do me like this? You drawlin cuz, all I asked was to help me and you want to make it all complicated. You’re a kill joy yo.” I stared at him for a minute before I said, “I tried to help you and you denied my help. You went to a translator when I warned you it wasn’t going to come out right. So when you fail, don’t blame it on me.”
He finished taking his cheated notes and left angrily because he knew he was wrong and because I was angry with him. After a little while I heard my mom scream, “YO! Done or raw.” And I quickly got up quickly and told my angry brother that it was time to eat. He then seemed to have settled down because he was using my Spanish dictionary and playing NFL on Xbox 360 sitting in his big spiney chair that has 2 arms and feels like fluffy clouds. I waited until he turned around and told him again. He looked at me with calm eyes and said: “okay.”
During this time in life, “YO”, “DAWG”, and other phrases that could be seen as a “code”, was mostly understood by Black people. I’ve notice that as a black culture there is always a new word or an update on a previous slang going around. “Bye Qurl” means in today’s world “End of discussion” or a more known word “Period”, after something important has just been stated. These words are a special connection between blacks since we don’t really have our own language. It represent us. But Blacks don’t have their own language because we were forced to speak, some what “Standard English” during slavery time because Whites wanted to understand what Blacks were saying.
Even though others don’t understand Blacks all the time, we can instantly switch from “hood” talk to proper English when we need to. But because most people stereotype Blacks as “Ghetto” it’s a little hard to be taken seriously by some people. Not all black people are rude, ghetto, or can’t speak “correctly”. And if there are, then maybe they just can’t receive the same education as other races can. There are a whole bunch of blacks that can speak well and speak in “our” code without a second thought and can still be a business man, a writer, or even an artist. Just because Blacks pronounce or use a different word to describe something doesn’t mean they’re not “well educated”. Blacks are perceived of this because Black slang is not the easiest thing to catch onto or understand quickly.
Also, a lot of people who speak “hard” Black slang are usually from the projects and those people are usually uneducated as well. But it doesn’t go that way all the time. You can be from the projects and still become something better and more. So because of this, it’s hard for other races to understand Black slang terms that a majority of Blacks do speak because it’s shorter and easier for Blacks. It matters for Blacks more because there is still some racism going on, and because of that Blacks are getting shot down jobs and being accused of other things because of their accents, or the way they speak.
And because of that, a majority of Blacks are stereotyped of speaking the exact way.
For example, my brother has amazing writing skills, though if you’re talking to him and your a close friend it wouldn’t seem like he would know great grammar. However, he gets A’s in English all the time and recently received an amazing score on his PSAT’s in writing. This shows you that we as black people speak a certain way to describe how we feel or to describe ourselves in our a chill, comfortable way. It’s apart of us. But because of the stereotypes most blacks just threw away the whole “code” to begin with to fit in. In a short story called, “Tongue Tied” by Maxine Hong Kingston her mother cut her daughter’s frenum which is under her tongue so she would be able to speak any language. At first, she was afraid to speak in class because no one else had their tongue like that from her family and she thought others would view her differently. But later on in the story, she learns to build her confidence and starts to talk in class more because she realized that even her sister was afraid to talk and she didn’t even have hers cut.
It has come to a point that more and more blacks have been acting ghetto, which I dislike to the fullest extent. Trying to show how rude or disrespectful they can be by following the stereotype gives other races reasons to think that a lot of Blacks aren’t educated. Even I have stopped using a lot Black slang. But, I can still fully understand new terms and black dialogue. I guess you can say I’m taking a break from the “Black Code” and learning more of a Japanese one. It’s always good to learn something new I suppose after so many years of the same thing. It’s the way of language to absorb, and migrate once you’ve learned everything there is to be learned.
Intro: Hola Amigos! Mi nombre es Alexis y este mi vida y mi queridos los.
Yo: Mi nombre es Alexis Dean, soy una estudiante de primer año aquí en SLA. Soy de Filadelfia. Soy Boba, Sociable, and Amoroso Me fasicna leer, dormir, estar de vago con mi familia, y praticar deportistes.
Ella: Su nombre es Alyssa, Su es mi hermana menor Alyssa es adorable. Alyssa tiene tres años. Le fasicna baliar, eschuchar musica y cantar. Sin embargo Alyssa encanta su hermana mayor Alexis mas. La adoro porque su mi hermana menor y es mi todo mundo.
Ellos: Ellos es mis primos Nicky y Astasia. Son de Filadelphia. Tienen una familia grande. Les gusta Jusgar Videojuegos escuchar musica y mas o menos en amor con Facebook. Ma caen bien porque ellos son mi primos y son mi mejor amigos.
Ellas: Ellas son mi madre y mi amiga Tytiana. Son de Filadelphia tambien. Ellas son guapas, comicos and bobas. Les gusta escuchar musica. Ellas casi siempre tener auriculares en. Ma caen bien porque ellas son siempre hay para me cuando yo necesidad ellas.
Nostros: Nuestros nombres son Gabrielle, Caryn y Alexis. Somos sociables. Tenemos los ojos moreno. Nos encanta Basketbol, escuchar musica y comer. Nos llevamos bien porque es mi favorborita amigas.
For the longest time I wasn’t sure what to write about. I don’t come from a family straight out of a foreign country. And I’m not “Off the Boat” Italian as some others are. I’m just me, Anthony. So I thought about it quite a bit before I finally thought to myself that I do have some dialectic things in my life. My grandparents say things, my friends say things and even I say things. So I just decided to write those occurrences into this paper that you see here.Overall I slightly enjoyed writing this paper. With everything there would of course be other topics that would be more fun to write about. But this wasn’t a bad topic whatsoever. I enjoyed getting to look at past things in my family that reminded me of the funny and unique ways which they speak!
I will never fully understand the way people go against one another for speaking differently, even when it’s in the same language. To be speaking different languages is one thing, I mean you can’t understand the person, but there’s no reason to bother others for sounding differently.
I don’t exactly see how words can be improper. I mean I understand how some people associate poor grammar with poor working. Some people can be told entirely from their speech. The person who seemingly can’t structure a sentence is more than likely differently clothed than somebody using complex words in a casual conversation. This doesn’t necessarily meant that the person is incapable of doing the actions of the proper speaker granted it isn’t a public speaker in most cases.
“Well what do you mean we can’t go to the Christmas party this year?” “I already told you why! I don’t work with them anymore!” “So? What’s the problem?” “Marone, what’s the matter with you?” These are most of the arguments between my Aunt Monica and my Poppy. We manage to get into arguments over everything and it’s hilarious every time. I remember last Christmas Eve when we went to my grandparent’s house for our annual holiday tradition. We always eat so much more than we’re supposed to and wind up making somebody starve to death because we’re such “gavones” as my family says. And we are. “Here you go, the last pizza guys!” My Mommom said twice with a grin on her face. I never got how she could be so happy in making countless pizzas on Christmas Eve. “Hey guys we’re finally here!” My Aunt Joanna said while her and my newest Uncle Mick walk in from the blistering cold. “Oh good just in time for the last of the pizzas,” replied my Mommom still happy. “What pizza…?” replied my Uncle, clueless as ever. My Mommom quickly looked down at the table to see nothing left. “You guys are such gavones!” she sparked at us after devouring all the pizza. It was worth it though.
There are several examples in the world where dialects are found. Everywhere in the world actually. Your dialect shows just that. It tells you everything from where you’re from to whom you hang out with throughout your life. Don’t be ashamed of what you have, but be happy about your own life and where you’ve come from to this point.