"Stewed Language"

Keanu Farrow

January 10th, 2011

English 10th:

“Stewed Language”


 My language describes whom I am as and individual. It shows people how I can manipulate myself to not only understand other dialects, but also use them to my advantage to either speak to someone of lower power and higher importance.

Coming from a family of inhabitants with an education level of an esteemed college student, it was very easy to learn the “gifted tongue” of a politician.

Possibly the best demonstration of this was when I was in my last year in junior-high. Back at Cook-Wissahickon, a newly formed student government was formed and in need of a senator, vice-president, and president. I rose to the situation ran for office. I used my intelligence to guide my speech and persuade the community into allowing me to become 8th grade president.

According to James Baldwin, “Language reveals the speaker.” In my 16 years of life my language has revealed that I was the type of child who had no reference of “casual speech” or in this case having no recall of making the way I spoke to the audience in a more casual way whilst using slang or “Anglicism”, words distorted by the English language.

As stated before, I came from a family who spoke the tongue of highly educated citizen, but when growing up my language hindered the process of making friends.

I once lived in one of the “un-safe” parts of Philadelphia known as Brickyard located just a bit further from Germantown. The inhabitants spoke a somewhat distorted version of English known as “Ghetto talk” by many other people. Slang was a big influence in all types of speech, as Philadelphia needs its own dictionary to understand the way its settlers communicate with each other.  I was put into the environment surrounded by people who talked very different compared to me. In any conversation it would either be repeated due to the fact that barely anybody understood my vocabulary since I spoke with such big words. 

Referenced by James Baldwin, “People evolve a language in order to describe and thus control their circumstances, or in order not to be submerged by a reality that they cannot articulate.” Learning slang to communicate with others is somewhat an evolution in the way I speak. I manipulated my situation as a highly educated child in a bad neighborhood to speak the language of the other citizens in Brickyard.


There were times in my life where my language was put to the test and day by day; Anglicism was made a priority to get by. In the short story “How to Tame a Wild Tongue”, the author Giona Anzadúa said, her language “Chicano Spanish is a border tongue which developed naturally.” I remember my family moving from different neighborhoods, to different cities, and eventually to a different state.

Virginia Beach, Virginia was my latest move back in June of 2004.  Back then I had mastered the “slang” vocabulary of Philadelphia and could manipulate myself to achieve power in conversations. When I relocated to Virginia, everything made a complete 180. I remember trying to talk to one of my newly made friends in Virginia. I asked him for some water, but in the Philadelphian accent I said the term “wood-er” to which raised eyebrows towards me. I never really fit in when conversing with the people of Virginia at first. To do so I had to learn their dialect as well as keeping up with my own “home-bred” language. I started hanging around children and adults who spoke a diluted version of “Cajun-country” a form of country speech that also has roots tie in from Louisiana. After about 4 months living in Virginia, I had mastered the tongue spoken in the state.

My language is really how it defines me as an individual. It shows me how I can literally alter the way I talk to gain not only friends, but power in almost everything. My language started out as one specific thing as simply one language. Throughout the course of my 16 years of life languages from all over the country have mixed in with mine and distorted my native tongue to create a “stewed-version’ of my language. To this day, my language represents who I am, and over the course of the future, I will have new languages mix into my language, manipulating my tongue and altering the way I can converse with the community.