This essay allowed me to dive into a deeper part of writing. As I wrote this I had to challenge myself writing so that I could make my transition somewhat smoother and more understandable. Writing in English with a Portuguese mindset can be slightly difficult. My goal of this essay was to explain my experience trying to find my true language. I am proud to have properly finished this. I was hitting roadblock after roadblock, however, I was able to go around these roadblocks and continue on with the writing. This Essay has taught me that there are different ways to writing. I wish to learn ways to properly write more difficult things that are understandable.
There is no such thing as correct literacy. The correct literacy is the literacy that you are most comfortable with. This is something that I tell myself every time before I speak today, however, I wish I told myself this years ago. I remember sitting in the front of my class willing to learn every English word that I could. My mind was a black hole that devoured knowledge at every chance. One way that I would try to expand my knowledge of the English language, would be by comparing the sounds of the English words to the Portuguese words, and seeing if it sounded the same. Of course, this didn't always work, however, it provided huge support to my younger self in lust for knowledge and improvement.
Thankfully, my hard work not only improved my English, but it also allowed my little brain to keep up with my Portuguese as well. However, not everyone was fond of my way of learning and my way of speaking. As I would try to sound it out loud in class, the teacher would always lose her temper, “You are disrupting the class! Please speak English!” She would say with an annoyed look as she turned the question to someone else. I never understood how trying to learn was disrespectful, or why it was a bad thing. I was also powerless as I was just a student. In chapter two of Freire’s “Pedagogy of the oppressed”, he states, “The teacher disciplines and the students are disciplined” So many teachers let this get into their heads, which causes them to be ignorant to their student’s opinions as if they expect them to be stupid.
Maybe she felt threatened, that I went against her beliefs. She expected me to be like the other students in the classroom who answer questions like mindless zombies and were never willing to learn.
After diligently learning English, I was finally able to answer the questions without disrupting the class. As time went on, I spoke English full time and I began to neglect Portuguese as if it was something I no longer needed. The only other person who spoke Portuguese was my mother, however, she was always at work, therefore, I had no one to speak to in Portuguese adding salt to the wound. It almost felt like Portuguese was becoming my second language. All of my memories, dreams, and cultures, were quickly being dubbed to English like a foreign movie trying to appeal to the American audience.
That summer I visited my family members back in Brazil. Something strange happened. One of my cousins said something that I just couldn't understand. “Pivete” What is that? I asked myself. I felt lost and alienated as I was unable to understand what they were saying. The word, “Pivete” threw me off completely making me completely unable to understand anything else. In the book, How To Tame a Wild Tongue by Gloria Anzaldua, at page 54 she says, “The first time I hear two Puerto Rican women and a Cuban say the word, “Nosotras” I was shocked. I did not know the word existed.” This relates perfectly to me. Neglecting Portuguese Caused me to completely forget the basics. It felt like I was pulling my own roots from the ground.
I was so focused on learning English that I forgot about my own language. Or was it my language? As I tried to continue speaking to my cousins, like deja vu something happened. My heart raced, “Did I just said an English word while speaking Portuguese?” I began to sweat profusely. My biggest fear was being labeled an “Americano” or a “Gringo.” I was ashamed. I was so angry that I allowed myself to stray from my roots and focus on something else. Was this my own fault? This quote from How to Tame a Wild Tongue by Gloria Anzaldua at page 56 perfectly answered my endless questions, “What recourse is left to them but to create their own language?” It wasn't my fault.
My language wasn't the same language that all of these people were speaking. Neither it was the language that my teacher spoke. It was the language I was comfortable with. The language I created. After a while, I began to care less and I began to embrace my new language. I was no longer looking for the language that fitted me best, I had it within me all along. Gloria Anzaldua perfectly touches upon this at page 54 oh How to Tame a Wild Tongue, “My home “tongue” are the languages I speak with my sister and brothers, and friends.” The shame was no longer there and my language became the one I understood and felt comfortable with them most. The language my friends and family are used to. My own language.