Winston W. Wright
I’m From Philly
Every summer we go to the mountains to visit my aunt and uncle.
“Hey what’s up?” My friend greeted us.
“Nothin much is there anywhere to skate around here?” I replied.
“Yea there is a park with some ramps up the road”
“Oh word that’s what’s up”
So we started walking to the park.
“Yea I’m Joey what’s your name?”
“Are you from Philly?”
“Yea I could tell”
“Ahahah really how?”
“Just the way you talk.”
The way I would describe how I talk would be somewhat proper, slang and a Philly accent, I cant really describe what a Philly accent is you just would have to hear it to know.
This is not the only time this has happened. One time my mom and I went to Lancaster to get some things from the Goods Store and the clerk noticed our accents. Some people could be offended or upset but this, but not me this doesn’t make me upset, Because most of the time people are excited to see new faces and people from different places, they usually ask questions about Philly and stuff like that, you cant blame them because I’m sure we all do the same thing I know I do. A lot of my friends are from south Philly and I can tell the difference between how they speak and how I speak, like one word they use is mish. But mish was spread around Philly now a lot of people from all different parts of Philly say mish. Another word is snapping, that would be the proper way to spell and pronounce it but really its snappin, like for example we would say.
“yo chill out you snappin”
So in this context “snappin” would mean over reacting or over excited.
We all are different every single person in the world and so is the way we talk. Everyone talks different even though some people might sound similar to each other. “People evolve a language in order to describe and thus control their circumstances.” We use different words in different context; we give new meanings to words like “drawlin” and “snappin”. I have a Philly accent other people have New Jersey accents and other cultures have different accents like Italian, Polish, German, and Hispanic. Some accents may sound the same but they are different in one way or another. English is a language that about a quarter (20% - 25%) of the world speaks the English language is rapidly changing every day new words and new meanings are popping up all over the place.
Your voice is a big part of which you are, it can do many things, things that you may have never even taken into consideration. Your voice can show a piece of your personality by speaking kind words if you’re a caring person, it can show what kind of mood your in by sounding aggressive if your mad or sounding soft when your sad. Your voice can also tell were your from by the way you speak words or say phrases and even the context you put words into. The way you speak is powerful it can tell many things.
Alchemy of Language
I’m new to my school and it’s only been a few months. No one really knows that much about who I am or about my ethnic background. I always dread having projects or class discussions about language or ethnicity because when people see me they just see another “white Italian” like all the rest of the kids in my class. I looked like everyone and spoke with the normal South Philly accent. I’m really Tunisian, which is in North Africa along the Mediterranean Sea. It is traditionally an Arabic country but being so close and raided by the neighboring countries we have a European culture. Our langue, which is Tunisian, isn’t one specific language. It is a mixture of French, Italian, and Arabic. I don’t have the traditional African or Arabian complexion so everyone assumes I’m just white. I enjoy being seen as the same as everyone because it makes me feel as though I fit in, so I don’t really express who I really am. I just stay away from the subject without having to encounter the situation. But it’s difficult having foreign parents who are more comfortable speaking their native langue, so when they call I must speak to their way of understanding.
“Miko, Ca Va?”
“Yes mom, inti Ca va?”
“mm. fama pizza fil cucina”
My Mom asked are you ok? I replied yes are you ok? She says yes and tells me there is pizza in the kitchen. I reply ok attempting to avoid any further conversation with my mother and stay away from comments from my friends. Unfortunately there is always that one person who over hears the conversation and begins questioning.
“What was that?!”
“What was what?” I said pretending to not know what is going on.
“On the phone what was that? What are you speaking”
“Not sure what your sayin”
I am then put under the spotlight growing hot and sweaty becoming uncomfortable as if being the unknown species that was just discovered in America. I then become defensive trying to get out of the conversation.
“You were like ahjibkcnojbdsijb bye”
“oh I though you knew? I’m Tunisian”
“French, Italian and Arabic. Its in North Africa, right across from Italy”
“Ooh, I thought you were Chinese for a second lol”
“Yeaa, I’m part Italian not full blooded tho”
I bring up the reference that I am “part Italian” to bring a connection to everyone else and to bring everything back to thinking I’m “normal” again. I also bring up how Tunisia is “right across from Italy” to show how we aren’t so different. It works sometimes but others just keep believing that I’m a foreign weirdo. I can connect to James Baldwin’s view on what language is and how it is introduced. He believes it is “…an alchemy that transformed ancient elements into a new language.” My language bonds 3 different types of ethnicities and in my opinion 3 is better than 1. Over time language is constructed and altered in many different ways. My language is one of those changed over time. Every Language is unique and according to who you are you may use that language in a unique way. Tunisia bonds French, Italian, and Arabic. It is not one standard language but it is still the way of communication in that country. Language is one of the unique ways of discovering someone’s identity. There are some languages that have been changed overtime and are difficult to decipher and connect to a certain background. When back tracking the alchemy of language, the identity becomes more clear. Your outer appearance and complexion may not tell your true identity, but language can reveal the actual origin of a person.
1/13/11 Michael Sanders
When I’m chilling with my friends, there comes sup. When I’m with parents sup becomes Hello. When I’m with Nana it becomes Hey. When I’m with my Spanish teachers it becomes hola. There are many different ways of saying this one word. Depending on who I’m with I say different words with the same meaning. I don’t know who I am or what my real identity is. It changes from person to person.
I’m was walking to the 30th street train station and I saw a Hobo.
“Hey little fella got some food today?”
“Hey no. Uhm no I don’t have any.” Then I ran. I was freaked out.
It might be 2 words but that’s all it takes to tell me who I am. I usually say hey or hey you, to people I don’t know or people who I’m not comfortable with.
On my first day of SLA I was sitting at a table. Then some kid, I still don’t remember now from summer institute, came and sat next me.
“Yo Mike whats up?” Asked the Kid
“Hey you. It’s... It’s you.” I replied.
“How you doing? “
“Good, Good. I’m doing, umm I’m doing good.”
I tend to stutter in uncomfortable situations. I am never comfortable with people I don’t know very well. To them I talk like a nervous cow.
According to James Baldwin “ Language … reveals the private identity and connects one with … the larger, public, or communal identity them” This quote would connect perfectly with people, Especially with me. The meaning behind the quote is that language of a person can tell others who or how that person is. The quote means that people hide their true selves until they are comfortable or friends with a person. Until they are able to talk or communicate with language no one will know his or hers true identity. Like in an episode of “Ned’s Declassified” there was a new student. The student’s dad was in the military so she would move all the time. So every time she moved she would change her identity based on the situation. But Ned would eventually find the truth about her. I believe it is the same thing that happened to me when I got my first friend of SLA.
“ Mike, when did you become so funny?” Asked the friend
“I don’t know why. I just say what comes to my mind.” Said I.
“ But you are always so quiet”
“I don’t know why I just do what I do”
From that moment my “Heys” turn into “Hellos” or “sups”. At least to
my friend it changed. I never at the time figure out the reasons on why I do the things I do. For some reason my whole identity changes from place to place, and Person to person. After school for the first couple of weeks I would go and hang out with neighborhood friends. Hey turns into “what’s up my Nigga.” but the next day at school I would never even think about saying that. First of all I don’t know how they would they react to the word. The comfort level is not there.
When I am with teachers or other grown up’s I try not to embarrass myself. My Heys are Hello’s to be polite. I don’t think they would accept a sup or MN. The hello changes every time.
“ Hey Mike ,you are really struggling right now in Spanish. Is there any thing you want to talk about ?” Said a teacher
“ No No it’s ok” Said me.
I would just walk away. I never usually talk to people. I don’t want them to judge me for who I am. I am very sensitive so I try to avoid controversy.
After my day my parents would usually ask about my day.
“How was your day ?“asked my mom.
Usually if it was
my friends I would respond with something cool. I don’t think my parents would find the humor with the cool way of talking. Most of the times my cool stuff would
turn into a punishment. So I just say “Yo. It’s been good. “My “Hey” turns into
yo’s when I have the comfort but I don’t want to say what is in my mind. This causes me to not know what my
identity is. My parents think they know who I am. Not even I know who I am.
“ Michael how was your day”
“It was good.”
I would always say it is good but really not. I don’t want my parents to over react. So I hide stuff from them. Maybe even my identity. These things not only happen to me but they secretly happen to other people. People of the world today do not know what their true identity is. Like me they change their identity based on the people or the situation they are in. It is hard because in every situation it changes. My situations would change base on my comfort level.
January 13, 2011
I was born and raised in Roxborough.
When I was younger I didn’t really think anything of the way I spoke and how I said words but now that I’m older I see that they really define who I am today and the way others see me. I go to other places and I am seen as, and often judged as being a “Roxborough girl.” Some of the words that I say get on people’s nerves such as, “ard” which is an abbreviation meaning “alright then.” Also, if someone’s getting on my nerves I’ll say something like “k” or “o.” This is what most of the people in my neighborhood say and I pick up this slang from them. Some people don’t realize the effect that their words have on others.
When I’m not in my own neighborhood no onse really thinks this language is weird, they just are aware that I’m from Roxborough. Also, when I go into other neighborhoods their language seems weird to me. For example, when I go to south philly and hear their slang like, “kilt,” “hengk,” and they all call people clowns. I didn’t know what any of this meant when I went there and it still seems weird to me even though I know what they’re talking about now, just because this slang is not used in my neighborhood. When I go to these different neighborhoods I feel weird when they say words like this because I feel like an outsider. I bet people feel the same way when they come to my neighborhood and I say things like “o” and “k.” For example, someone from New Jersey came down to my neighborhood with his friend. I said these words and he asked me if I was trying to be rude to him which I definetly was not. It really made me think about the impact that my words have on people and how I may come off to others. I feel kind of bad now because people don’t know that I’m just kidding around with them and whatnot.
People in places such as North Philly use slang that is different to me also. For example, lots of kids at SLA use the term, “bad” to describe someone being very attractive. I’ve never heard this term around Roxborough before either. The first time I heard someone use this word it was directed towards my friend Kim Parker. “She so bad!!!” I heard the boy say. I thought to myself, what is he talking about? Kim isn’t bad, nor does he know her enough to judge her in that kind of way. I thought it was pretty weird. The next day I heard the same boy say that another girl was, “bad.” This is when I started to catch on that he meant these girls were pretty. It sounded/still sounds so stupid to me. I don’t understand why they can’t just say that they are attractive.
In English class we read a few essays on how people use language in life. In the essay, If Black English isn’t a Language then What is? There is a quote by James Baldwin. “…When to speak a certain language could be dangerous, even fatal.” I agree with this quote 100% because lots of people can get really offended by language that others speak. For example, when I go in places with different types of people with ethnic groups I be careful of what I say. Not because I’m racist at all or anything like that just because I live in an area where there are all white people and I’m so used to speaking freely not caring what I say since everyone is just the same as me. I make a lot of jokes and need to realize that people might get offended. In different areas you also need to show respect because you can’t just go into someone else’s “territory.” If I were to go into a neighborhood highly populated with black people and I said words with profanity they would be so offended. I would probably get beat up.
If everyone were to watch things they say then I don’t think there would be as much fighting and war and whatnot. I think we should all start thinking about the way we come off to people. If you are in class and you talk like you don’t care, then teachers are obviously going to think that you don’t care and think that you’re a bad kid. That actually happened to me firsthand so I would know. I think that your language that you use tells a lot about who you are and how you feel about the way others think of you. If you are going to meet a boyfriends family or your bestfriends family you’re not going to use curse words or words such as “you suck.” You’re going to be proper and hope that they like you. This is because if you have good language then people respect you a lot more and think highly of you. This is why some people don’t realize the effect that their words have on others.
There are hundreds and hundreds of varieties of languages in the world. Each language conveys different sounds, emotions, and even a person’s status. Everyone is usually taught to learn and speak only one language depending on what that society requires. Even though the sole purpose of language is to be able to communicate with one another, it is also used required in becoming a part of society itself. Language isn’t just a series of sounds interlaced with each other used to communicate, but also to connect your self to society’s standards.
In my case, I was brought up to learn two languages. I was born in Indonesia and the language spoken there is Indonesian. When I had reached the age of 4, my family decided to move to the United States of America. Coming here, I only knew how to speak Indonesian. Even though my parents had hired an English tutor back home, I still struggled to speak English, mainly because I didn’t pay attention. I regretted this when it came time for school. I was very lost and I didn’t know what was going on most of the time. The only words I knew how to say in English were “yes” and “no.” So most of the time, when someone said something to me, I always responded with either “yes” or “no.” It didn’t matter if I understood what they were saying. The thought of not being able to understand anything or anyone was killing me. So, I just stayed quiet and kept to myself.
After 6 months or so, English didn’t seem as difficult. The different sounds of day-to-day talk became very familiar. Since I desperately wanted to feel like I belonged, so I worked hard to study English. Every day, if I would hear a new word that I wouldn’t understand, I would ask my parents what it meant. Even though they weren’t fluent, they knew enough to tell me what some words meant. A year went by and I had achieved my goal. English became second nature to me. Even though I spoke a lot of English outside of school, I didn’t forget my native language. My parents would always make me speak Indonesian at home. They said they were fine and actually happy that I was learning a second language. But they always reminded me never to forget the language I was born with. This was because Indonesia will always be a part of me and I should embrace my heritage. I agreed with them.
Richard Rodriguez quoted, “The belief, the calming assurance that I belonged in public, had at last taken hold.” Richard Rodriguez took the words right out of my mouth. The assurance that I belonged in public also had finally taken hold, just like Richard. The fact that I had conquered the English language made me feel like a part of society. I was no longer just Indonesian anymore, but also American. But I didn’t forget about my roots. I still enjoyed speaking in my native language. These two languages also made me feel as if I was accepted everywhere. It made me feel like was a part of two different worlds.
Language plays a major role in defining who a person is. It can define who someone is in society. Since society does require people to be able to speak a certain language, you are expected to know and be able to speak that language. Learning a new language opens up a whole new view and takes on a certain part of society. Language isn’t just a series of sounds interlaced with each other used to communicate, but also to connect your self to society’s standards.
“Ugh, we got drama next. Kill me now.” I said.
“Why you don’t like drama class? Its actually fun.” said my friend.
“I mean like, I like the class, but it’s just, well I don’t know.”
“I think its cause you don’t talk much”
“What you mean? I always talk around ya’ll?
“Oh true, but well never mind.”
That was the end of the conversation, but still my mind pondered about what my friends exactly meant by me not talking much. I know that I do act shy sometimes, but that’s only around people who I don’t know or don’t feel comfortable around. In class, I usually do not raise my hand because my language changes when I’m talking to my friend on the side, and when I am speaking in front of my class. When I speak in front of a lot of people, my voice seems to get lower and I begin to rush my words. My mother often tells me that whenever I have an exciting story to tell, I began to talk really fast, but I never notice it. Drama class just began, and I had to perform my monologue in front of the whole class. As soon as I got on stage, I could already feel my throat tightening up. I felt my mouth get dry as Introduced myself. “My name is Kenisha and I’m playing a girl named Buffy from Scary Movie 2.” As I looked down into the audience, many faces were staring right back at me, and I suddenly got nervous. I tried to speak, but nothing would come out. “Kenisha come on, go head and start your scene”, shouted voices from the audience. Even though the comments that were shouted from the audience should have encouraged me, it actually made me feel worst. I attempted to speak again, but my words came out dry and cracked. Overall, my monologue turned out to be terrible, which brought my grade down. As soon as I got in the car, I told my mother what was going on.
“Mom, can you take me out of drama class?” I asked.
“For what? I thought you liked it?” asked my mother.
“I do like it, but I just can’t handle it anymore. I always seem to mess up performances and that is hurting my grade.”
“Well, what’s exactly the problem?”
“Well, when I get in front of the class to perform, I get shy and then my voice changes which messes up my whole performance, and I don’t know what to do about it.”
“Ard, we will work on it. So you’re staying in drama.”
“Ughh, ard mom. Don’t get mad if I fail.”
All that week, my mom was pushing me to do better. That encouraged me to push myself as well. I practiced in front of friends, family members, and even in the hallways where random people walked by. It was the day to perform, and I felt more confident. I ended up doing my scene right and my teacher said he was proud of me.
According to James Baldwin, “ The price for this is the acceptance, and achievement, of one’s temporal identity.” He believes that the reason people usually change the way they talk around others is just for their acceptance at the time. I was looking for the acceptance of my mother, classmates, and my teacher. When I thought that I couldn’t receive acceptance from them, I wanted to quit. As I worked more on it, my confidence built up and I gained the ability to speak in front of others. I still get a little bit nervous but I still improved. People speak around others based on how confident they are. When I am around my friends, I am confident and I know that they will not judge me. If I try to speak in front of people I don’t know, I feel uncomfortable; I lose confidence and my voice changes. A person’s language or the way they speak changes based on the comfort level of the speaker.
The many tongues of language
“Ayo, Maggie! What’s happenin?”
“Nuthin much man, how bout you?”
“Eh, it’s alright, you know, just chillin. See ya tomorrow iight!?”
“Yea dude, for sure”
This language would be my “second language”. My first would have to be how I talk to some of my friends and people who are more educated than me. I was brought up to talk with respect and to speak with words that you would mainly only hear in a thesaurus. Since I moved to Philly, I have gotten more used to the slang and speech that people down here use. Now, I can adjust myself for different people. This helps me fit in and get along with different people. This helps me identify myself as a person because I know that since I can change my language with anyone, in the blink of a second, I feel more bilingual because of that. I feel that having more experience with different people’s language can help you in the long run because you will know more about the culture and speech hands on.
“Hey Maggie! I read that book you gave me! It was superb! May I suggest a book to for you to take a look at?”
“Yea, sure! What is it called?”
“A Clockwork Orange”
“Ohh! I read that already! It’s very…well…haha, unordinary. However, it is well written.”
“Alrighty, well I have class, but I will see you later!”
Along with the many other languages I possess, I can also know when to turn off the other languages to talk to someone and have an educational talk with them. I adjust my language in order to fit in more with that group of people who are talking that way. This makes it easier to relate to them and to make them and myself more comfortable in the environment, since we all will speak the same way.
In the story by Maxine Hong Kingston, it describes how different languages are used and how people in the world try to hide behind them. In the last pages of the story, she talks about how you can speak in certain areas and why you should. In the words of Maxine Hong Kingston, “You can’t entrust your voice to the Chinese either. They want to capture your voice for their own use.” Saying this she explains how she feels about the Chinese without even describing her feelings toward them. To me, this is offensive and too general of an explanation. I feel like her generalization is affecting more than just the Chinese. She is saying that if you talk to a Chinese person, they will try to copy your voice and your language so that they can use it also. I feel like it doesn’t have to just be the Chinese that you talk to where this can occur. If you talk to someone of your own race, then they could “capture” your language also. This is kind of like how I change my language for different groups. I learn by listening to the people talk and then “capturing” that language and vocabulary and then repeating it back. I feel this makes it easier to fit in and talk to that group of people.
During Maxine Hong Kingston’s story, the mother is talking to the child about how she “cut his tongue”. She obviously did not mean this literally, but more as an expression. She continues to talk about how it affected him and how she cut it. “I cut it so that you would not be tongue-tied. Your tongue would be able to move in any language. You’ll be able to speak languages that are completely different from one another.” I take this as her saying she made him able to speak multiple languages by speaking multiple languages to him and making his environment different also. By putting him in an environment where people speak different ways, he will learn all of those ways just by being part of that community. I can relate to this saying because when I moved to Philly I take that as the “cut” of my tongue. I went from being in a place where people talked all the same way, to Philadelphia, where it is more diverse and integrated. I feel multi-lingual because of that. The “cut” of my tongue was a good thing for me in my opinion.
Out of all of the languages in the world I am very happy with the ones I know, and are still learning. Different ways of talking are all over the city. Engaging yourself in conversation with different languages is definitely worthwhile. I have learned from my own experiences how and when to talk to somebody and what language I should use. This has made me a better person and more multi-lingual. In conclusion, I think learning more about people’s language and experiencing it yourself can help you out in the long run.