English Quarter 2 Benchmark

“Hey can you pass the plain begels?
“What did you say?”
“Pass the plain BEGELS!”

Pointing at a bagel and in one of those smart-ass tones he replies, “Oh, you want this?”

Frustrated, I say “yes.”

As the days went on, and we had bagels for breakfast every morning more people started to notice how I speak and pronounce things differently. For the first week and half most people’s reactions were



“Wait, what?”

“How do you pronounce this?
Or one of the most common one, “hahahahahaha!”


I have to admit, it was annoying after awhile. I would always try to explain to people that’s how I have said ‘bagel’ my whole life. Then I would have to pronounce other words I say weirdly. Everyone would be talking to me, asking to say different words. Each word I said, more people would come up to listen, staring at my mouth watching words come out, but hearing it differently then them. It was almost if everyday someone would come up to me with a different word to say. All ears open to just hear it be said wrong.

In James Baldwin’s essay, “If Black English Isn’t a Language, Then Tell me, What is?” he says,  “It goes without saying, then, that language is also a political instrument, means, and proof of power. It is the most vivid and crucial key to identify: It reveals the private identity, and connects one with, or divorces one from, the larger, public, or communal identity.”  Speaking the way I speak and pronouncing words differently then others can put me in a disadvantage or an advantage depending on how people look at it. I may be able to have power with the way I speak because people may listen to me since I sound different. It can also be a disadvantage because I say words differently people may judge and not want to listen. In some circumstances language can give me power. It depends on how people identify me based on the way I speak. Just because I talk loudly doesn’t mean people are going to listen.

With the way I talk and pronounce different words, it can cause conflict anywhere. This can mean when I am in public, people may not understand what I am trying to say. James Baldwin mentions in “If Black English Isn’t a Language, Then Tell me, What is?” how conflict can and does occur. “A Frenchman living in Paris speaks a subtly and crucially different language from that of the man living Marseilles; neither sounds very much like a man living in Quebec; and they would all have great difficulty in apprehending what the a man from Guadeloupe, or Martinique, is saying, to say nothing of the man from Senegal although the “common” language of all these areas is French.” Every time I try to pronounce different words to other people who speak English still have to ask me what I mean because of how I say words. These are the things that cause conflict because of misunderstanding but in the same language.

Language can describe a lot about a person. People can hear me say one sentence and judge how I speak. Not getting to know me, or even waiting to hear another sentence with words I pronounce “correctly”. How I say one word someone else may say it totally different only a few miles away. It can sometimes show the location of where one lives or is from. As I traveled the United States this summer on a teen tour it really showed that I was well represented from where I was from. There were the stereotypical accents from the south and I was not the only one that pronounced words differently. It showed me that everyone in the world has their own way of speaking. I learned it is unique and no one should be ashamed of his or her accent or how they pronounce certain words. I now don’t mind when people ask me over, and over again how I pronounce certain words.

The places I went to and the experiences I had this summer changed my outlook on language. The forty-four people I spent six and half weeks with on a coach bus from all over the United States were the ones that picked at the way I spoke the most. We all realized that we each said something weird or different because of where we were from. It was kind of likes learning our own foreign language. It was a mixed language of how we all talk that was unique and special to only us. In the beginning weeks conflict occurred with mixes of accents and pronunciation but later on we go used to it. I did not have to listen and judge how other people spoke because I and the other forty-four teenagers on my bus all realized we had our own identification. I was happy to see where my language fit in, in the world. 

Comments (1)

Jaccar Garcia (Student 2014)
Jaccar Garcia

Great description. I can truly make in image in my head of people constantly asking you to pronounce certain words and their reactions. Great realization at the end where you noticed we all had our identification. I also had trouble with words, trouble pronouncing words in spanish.