Language Autobiography 2013: Distanced From Translation

This Quarter in English, we have been exploring the topic of language and identity. I have truly learned a lot in this unit, and when given the idea of being assigned a project based on it, I was jumping at the opportunity. Mr. Block assigned a "Language Autobiography" in which we used writing to explain a way that language affects our daily lives. I used my sister in mine because that was the closest thing to language affecting me daily besides the words that utter my mouth each day and I honestly thought I could go far with this topic. I hope you enjoy reading my Autobiography below and watching the video that follows. Enjoy!

Growing up, there has been (and still is) something that clearly divides our family. It is not the color of our hair or whether we share the same eye color. A speech barrier has affected more than half of my family. In a household where all the adults come from a type of language that seems flawless, it seems odd that many of the children have problems with the way they speak (myself not included). Part of me feels somewhat personally affected by it, but the other part is happy that I don’t suffer from this problem. There is a void in my family, that is filled with the constant battle of “never being good enough” and “never fitting in.” We all have our reasons, but the one that I suffer with is being the one who is  more focused on school and the success of my future. I don’t feel I have to make excuses for why I cannot do something.

One of the family members most affected by this is my four year old sister Alyssa. Alyssa has a very apparent lisp and is facing the brunt of criticism at such a young age.  Some may think it is cute, but sooner or later it will catch up and consume her. Seems like it already has. She tries to speak with my mother to say something that may or may not be difficult in pronunciation and it comes out with a lisp. If we ask her to repeat herself, it’s because we didn’t understand it or because we try to help her, she stops and refuses to say it again. It is like she knows that shes not saying it right and gets nervous which causes her to stop speaking. I ask myself why? Why is society so superficial that it dictates whether you fit in based on someone’s opinion? It is something that is so unreal to me. Something that I see as a true problem. This has happened to more than just my family. It is something that so many can relate to. It’s an unbelievable feeling, being “shunned” in a sense because you have something that makes you unique. Everyone has their own unique way of being and society dictates whether it matters. You either fit into society or you don't, and it starts the minute you are born, a lot depending on the “in” trends of that date and time.

Over time, with the increased amount of diversity in the country, language is becoming the new “in” thing. If you don’t speak a certain way, you are cast out. There is more to life than just the way you speak, the language you speak or where you speak it.

         In school you are required to study another language, helping you to expand your mind to other parts of the world. In my school, that language is Spanish. I have never spoken Spanish, nor have I have ever considered taking Spanish as a second language, however since it is required, I have no choice. Based on this, I know where my sister is coming from. The feelings of being lost, alienated and confused are what come to mind.  I can go on and on about the way not fitting in due to language feels, but in my case, I either get it or I don't. There hasn't really been a medium for me. I am struggling not with the idea of learning a new language or not having a choice. I am struggling with being able to fully understand what's going on. When learning a new language, you need full support from both your teachers as well as peers, but when you are judged and laughed at for pronouncing things wrong, you no longer want to continue. It becomes a different light shed to those who are “different” than us. I ask myself why? Is it because they speak differently than you? The pressure is on in the battle with language and how you choose to fight that battle is up to you. Do you let it overwhelm you and attack at your emotions or do you just try harder to prove to everyone that you can indeed do it on your own and be like them. It shouldn’t be that way. You should want to do better for your own personal benefit, not because you want to fit in with those around you. However, unfortunately in the world today, that is not an option.

In today’s society, you are in a better standing knowing more than one language. That is not a bad thing, however the way that the message is put across may seem scary and  overwhelming. I know personally the pressure is on learning and being fluent in another language. It will give me a headstart when it comes to college and prepare for traveling and expanding my relationships with those who speak a language other than English. There are some things in life worth doing, and language is one of them. There is no reason to sit around and complain about it when you can just act. No matter what you do in the world, there is going to be criticism, bullying and people trying to kick you down. The only thing you can do is want better for yourself and want to succeed. Pick up that want and keep trudging forward, the outcome will be a thousand times better if you do it for yourself, and not because of pressure of others.