“ I’m so hungry “
“ Yea me too I didn’t have time the eat BRECFIX this morning because….”
“ You didn’t have time to eat what “?
“ Brecfix you know, morning time food”.
“ Oh you mean BREAKFAST”
“ Yea isn’t that what I said”.
“ Why do you say it like that “?
“ Say it like what?“
“ You sound so weird it’s breakfast like break-fast not brecfix you sound like you're from the south or something “
“ Brecfix ”
Everybody that was in a 5 feet radius of my conversation burst into laughter.
“ What is Brecfix “
“ She said Brec- Fix”
“ Like Brick and fix”
I started laughing with them to hide my embarrassment. I didn’t understand why it was so funny. I had been saying breakfast the same way since I was a kid. This was in the 7th grade. I was 13 years old and until that day, I didn’t know I couldn’t say breakfast. The word had already been sprouted into the garden of my vocabulary and I didn’t know how to change it. When I got home that day I sat in the mirror for hours just trying to say breakfast. My mind knew that it was breakfast but my mouth kept saying brecfix. I felt so stupid and I was so frustrated with myself because I couldn't say a simple word. What really upset me is that no one ever told me I was saying it wrong. So how would you know when you're saying something wrong or strange? Especially when it sounds so normal to you. When you’ve been saying something the same way for so long and someone corrects you, it feels like a slap in the face. Why do people think they have the right to correct you on the way you speak? When a group of people say something the same way they become accustomed to it. It's their normal. But when someone comes and says it differently they look at them strangely. They laugh at and judge that person because they don’t speak like them. I noticed that when people don’t understand something they try to put it down. These ideas of one language triumphing over another are ridiculous. Language is language, it's your interpretation of the definition of language that is different from everyone else’s. Everyone's definition is different. You're definition doesn't make you better than anyone or less than anyone it makes you who you are.
Language is power. It's the power to judge someone. It's the power to understand someone. Our language is the most powerful thing we have. It's our language that lets us communicate with one another. People feel as though if they speak a certain language they have power over someone who doesn't speak that language. They make fun of that language because they don't know it. In the world that we live in being different is frowned upon. Anything that is not what people are used to is weird to them and they will laugh at it or joke about it. They don't understand that when they are laughing at the way someone speaks it is laughing at who they are. The way you speak is you is apart of you, it is you.
I was laughed at because I couldn't say one word like everyone else. Imagine all the people who get laughed at who have accents or have a disability like a stutter and can't speak like everyone else. It hurts. You feel bad about who you are. You're language is your power. When someone puts down you're language they are taking away your power. There is no perfect language to speak. Everyone goes somewhere outside of where they are from and doesn't understand the language or the slang. Where you are from influences you're language greatly. Once you step out of that zone you are lost, your language is lost.
I tried to change who I was to get approval from others. That's what you do when you change your language you are talking away a part of yourself. I tried for months to say breakfast like everyone else. I practiced and practiced but I never got it right.
One day I was sitting down eating at school. It wasn't breakfast, it was lunch time so nobody asked me to say brecfix or talked about how I said it. My friend Imani and I were making jokes and laughing like we always did at lunch and I started to talk to her about an assignment we had.
“ Did you finish your project for Mr. Jumpp’s class”?
“ No I didn't even start that yet”
“ You know it's due in like last week right?”
“ Yea but I don't know PACIFICALLY what I want my topic to yet”
PACIFICALLY, SHE SAID PACIFICALLY.
“ You don't what”?
“ I don't know what..”.
“ No you said you don't know pacifically what you want to do yet”.
“ Yeah I don't know pacifically what I want my topic to be”.
“ The word is pronounced spe-cif-ically”.
“ Oh Sp..Pa..Psssifically is that right”?
This was coming from the same friend who corrected me for saying brecfix. She couldn't say specifically. She said pacific, like the Pacific Ocean. It was in that moment that I realized something important. People mispronounce words all the time. It’s apart of life. Than I started to think about it, and maybe we aren't mispronouncing words. Maybe we are just saying the word in our own language. Putting our power into a word to make it our own. Each word that we speak is different. We each have our own way of speaking. So this is my definition of language. Language is not just what you say or how you communicate with one another. It's so much more than that. Language is the power that we put into what we say. We put power into everything that we say. That's how language and power coincide. Power runs through the river of language and language flows out of all of us. We all individually make our language. Nobody in the world can say every word “correctly” or knows every language. Sometimes we can’t say things “correctly” and that's okay because it’s how we say it.I still can not say breakfast "correctly" but now I don’t even try to say it. Breakfast is not in my language. Of course people still laugh when they hear me say brecfix but I’m okay with it now because I know that it’s my special word, it’s apart of my language. I eat brecfix in the morning and I am perfectly fine with that.