Our Own Voice


            They were looking at us weird again. If I weren’t in our little circle I would have, too.

            “Withagair Ithagis Shith-agee?” Asked Brittney.

Where is she?

            “Ithagi dithagont nithago.” I replied.

I don’t know.

            It took a while to learn how to speak it, though it was so simple, and even longer to actually speak it fluently, if you didn’t hear it in practice.

            “Shith-agee sithagead shith-agee withagus cithagum mithaging ithagout tithagoo dithagay.” Giavanna stated.

She said she was coming out today.

            “Ithagi nithago” Brigitte said.

I know.

            Others stared as we conversed just as quickly as any other group of friends, but we were speaking Ithaguh. I now have lost just about all ability to speak it fluently, but I still understand it. Around our neighborhood, only a few others beside my friends and I knew how to speak it. We would share secrets and gossip, but only in Ithaguh, so that only we could understand each other.

            We learned it fast, picked it up in a snap and by the next week, we were speaking it faster than English. If we had to ask questions they were in Ithaguh, if it only dealt with someone in our group, it was in Ithaguh, the only time we didn’t speak it was when we were in someone’s house. It was something that we claimed to be ours, something only we understood and we protected it.

            There’s always a reason to develop a new language or use a language that is different than the one you normally speak. My friends and I spoke Ithaguh so another group around our neighborhood couldn’t understand us. You see, they always tried to spy on us, always tried to catch us talking about them. But we never did. We only talked about music, movies and our own business. Even though we knew we didn’t talk badly about them, we still were tired of being spied on and them trying to put their noses where they didn’t belong. So, Heather, the oldest girl in our group, taught us how to speak Ithaguh.

             It was like when the slaves were brought here from America, they all spoke different languages and they were forced to learn English, so they made it their own. They spoke in their own dialect of English and they sang songs in metaphors about plans of escaping and news, to be sure that their slave masters didn’t know what they were saying. Also, it could be how soldiers developed Morse Code to understand each other from a distance through lights or knocks or how people developed sign language so they could understand the deaf and the deaf could understand them. We didn’t want to be spied on anymore, that was our reason for learning how to speak Ithaguh. We needed something that not many people around us understood, but we needed something that we could use to understand each other.

            Glona Anzaldúa described a language she spoke as, “A language which they can connect their identity to, one capable of communicating the realities and values true to themselves.” This means that the people who spoke her language developed it to connect the language to people like them, so that if they heard it on the street, they would know they weren’t in an unfamiliar place. They developed a language so that they could talk personally with people like them and this is how we used Ithaguh. If we heard someone around our neighborhood speaking it, usually it was one of us. We only used it to talk about music, movies and our own problems, just like we did when we conversed in English, the only difference was that only we could understand each other and no one else could understand us.