English Benchmark

            The Way You Speak is Your Stamp of Who You Are!!


Where can I start? I had so many people say that I talk with an country accent, I’ve been made fun of because I can’t pronounce words right, and I have been corrected to not talk like I’m in the streets. I had to deal with being told how to pronounce words right, and how to say a proper sentence. I used to get so mad when people corrected me. I used to curse them out, stab them, hit them, and even choke them. I used to do anything to get them out of my face. I would do it because they made me feel bad about myself. They hurt me, so in return I had to hurt them. The way you speak can tell people where you grew up and who you grew up with.

            I remember when I was in the sixth grade and two girls that were in my class made fun of the way I pronounced street. We were in the classroom in our reading groups, we all had to read a paragraph out loud. As I was reading they began to laugh, I was confused because they were the only ones laughing.

“What’s so funny? Y’all the only ones laufin!” I said.

“Can you reread that sentence?” one of the girls asked.

“…he kicked my ball across the street.” They laughed again. I didn’t know why until they said that I pronounced street wrong. The way I pronounced it sounded like

“he kicked my ball across the shkreet.” To me it sounded like I pronouncing it like “street” but I wasn’t. It made me so furious, I started cursing them out really loud.

“How you gon’ try and judge me when you look like a silverback monkey? Get yo ‘hairy a** away from me. And you get the f**k away from me wit yo no neck havin’ a**. Go ahead wit yo’self, you dikes.” They were judging me because I say some words with a country accent. I’m not from the country or anything, but my family and I go to South Carolina every summer, so the way they speak clings to my tongue. Like when I say “dog”, I don’t say dog but I say,

“Dhog.” to me it sounds as if I’m saying “dog” but to others it sounds like “dhog”. At home my family doesn’t notice it because they speak just like me. And another thing, I don’t get how they their judging me when they speak nearly the same language as me. They didn’t speak “upper English”, but they spoke slang with “good English”.

            At the time, it seem that I only had a hard time pronouncing str and scr words, and that I sometimes sound country. I never thought that the language that I spoke and speak would be considered as “ghetto English”. Speaking “ghetto English” can tell the person you’re talking to a lot about you. It can tell where you live, who you live with, what type of school you went too, and even your education level. I never paid any attention to the way I talked because everybody around me talked just like me. I thought I was speaking English, but other people knew I was speaking “ghetto English”. The way I talked didn’t begin to bother me until I came to SLA. It was then when I realized that I wasn’t speaking “normal English”.

            In “How to Tame a Wild Tongue” by Glona Anzaldoa, there’s a girl who tells how at home and with her friends she can speak a normal language. A language that they all grew up speaking, but when she’s in school, she must speak another language. “My home tongues are the languages, I speak with my sister, brothers, with friends. From school, he media and job situations, I’ve picked up standard and working class English.” I feel the same way as she does, when I’m at home I don’t have to watch my tongue. I can pronounce things the way I want to pronounce them without being corrected.

            Now that I go to SLA I have been getting correct almost everyday on how to say a sentence right.

“ You doing anythin’ Friday?”

“You mean, ‘Are you doing anything this Friday?’” she corrects me.

“You wanna com’ downtown wit me?”

“Do you want to come with me downtown?” she corrects me again. I used to hate when people corrected me. I used to snap and curse people out when they corrected me. However I don’t do that now, I take what they say and practice my pronunciation. Instead of snapping on them, I practice because I know a lot of people judge you on the way you talk.  I stopped snapping because it was only getting me in trouble and I didn’t want to keep getting suspended because it was only making me look bad. I practice everyday and I’m starting to learn how to speak “normal English” even when I’m with my friends from home. I used to code switch but that takes too much work, I rather speak one language and try to change the way they speak. I know it may not sound right, but I know that if they want a good job they must be able to code switch or speak “good English”.

            The way you speak is a stamp to tell people where you come from, unless you train yourself to speak better then you can fool people. However if you cannot code switch or change the way you speak, you’re labeled so people know everything about you. I’m learning how to change my language so that people would know everything about me. Some people even think that it tells people your education level, I don’t think so because I’m a smart person with a GPA of 3.73. Even though I have a good GPA, the way I talk doesn’t seem like it.