Hoang Anh Nguyen (Annie)English 101Professor Madelynn HoardJanuary 29, 2018Summary In “How to Tame a Wild Tongue”, Gloria Anzaldua describes her background in a dual culture society, a woman who lives on the border between different cultures and countries, following by the negative social attitude toward Chicano ways of speaking on the identity and language.
She was born in South Texas, her personal experiences during her childhood often provide poignant and pointed examples of the arguments she makes about identity and language in her academic writing. The meaning of the title is how to change a person’s language and way of speaking such as accent between that language and immigrant population. At the beginning, she starts her article with a metaphor, she re-remember a dentist who complained that her tongue was as strong or as stubborn making her think about how to tame a wild tongue. Her expression shows that she has the problem with the way she speaks and concerns when she speaks, what other people will think about it even the dentist did not mean anything about her accent. Her mother language is Chicano Spanish, it means that she is not accepted as a native speaker by both those languages. However, she does not identify herself publicly as a group of people who speak it appropriately. Gloria had to overcome many obstacles and stereotypes out of her Chicano accent.
It does not only have negative impact on her feeling but also her personal identity. At the end, she only can understand her background until she can understand “illegitimacy” of her mother language. For example, she said, “Until I can take pride in my language, I cannot take pride in myself”. People think that their identity and the language they speak are the same, but no matter how the negative reactions of people who speak a different language are, anyone can be still self-validated and accept that fact. She brings together personal experience, history, quotations and theories about identity in this rich essay. In this way, language is not only a key helps people to connect with each other but also helps them to identify with one another.
It is a freedom of speech so you can’t judge the language that they speak in a right way or wrong way. Gloria Anzaldua motivates minority people not to be discouraged and deal with the challenge of being bilingual in the USA. She also makes an attempt to persuade the audience to accept the fact that some people might speak differently and American citizens have to change their mindset towards diversity, they shouldn’t disagree or distinguish. We should accept each other’s differences and personal identities of each individual. Both “How to Tame a Wild Tongue” by Gloria Anzaldua and “Mother Tongue” from Amy Tan discuss about the different languages unconsciously that they speak. Amy Tan is the daughter of immigrants who fled China’s Cultural Revolution in the late 1940s.
The following essay, in which Tan reflects on her experience as a bilingual child speaking both Chinese and English. The first time she became aware of the different types of “Englishes” she uses is when she talks about the book “The Joy Club”. She saw her mother in the audience and she realized that she had been using academic language learned from books, a language she never used before. The second time, she noticed her “Englishes” that she only uses it in her family, she was walking with her mom and her husband, she said “not waste money that way”. Since Tan’s mother cannot speak English fluently, a unique language is spoken between them to communicate and it also causes problem for her in basic conversations. She has a hard time communicating with other people, she cannot say certain things in a proper way and sometimes her mother receives bias treatment from different people because she brought diversity in the conversation. Tan describes it to people as “broken” or “fractured” English. The diversity her mother brought caused people to ignore what she was saying and to pretend that they did not understand what she said.
After dealing with her diverse mother, Tan believes that language spoken in families, especially immigrant families, plays an important role and affect their lives in the future. As child with immigrant’s parents, her English was limited due to her mother’s culture and broken English. Tan mentions Asian students being good in math and science but are skilled in English. Tan said that she felt more comfortable with math than English there is one right answer in math but for English, multiple answers are shown and compare to her broken English came in the way. She likes to be test and one of her boss told her that she was a bad writer and it motivates her to write more and change her major to English major. She was happy with the route she chose even she might have to experience ups and downs and did not live up to people’s expectations that people had for her because for bad writing skills and language skills. She was influenced by her mother so she decided to write stories about her mother and people who have “limited” or “broken” English like her.
Besides, she began to write all the Englishes she grew up with. She wanted to capture what language ability test can never reveal like her intent, her passion of her speech orher thought. Every people was born already have the difference between personality. And every country is also the same, they have a different culture, different language. I also have to face the same problem like Anzaldua and Tan. Could you imagine how hard it is when you can’t speak your mother language in a city that you never come before.
I totally agree with the quote “Until I can take my pride in my language. I cannot take pride in myself” (Anazaldua 38). Only when you feel proud of where you come from or your origins so you can truly be proud of who you are. The more you are proud of your language, your country, the more you are proud of yourself.
Gloria said that “Until I am free to write bilingually and to switch codes without having always to translate, while I still have to speak English or Spanish when I would rather speak Spanglish”. It can be your mother language and it also can be your second language but you have to speak those languages fluently. For an instant, my mother language is Vietnamese and now I am studying aboard in the US and it is compulsory for me to speak English well. Because if I can’t speak it, it means I cannot communicate with others and even cannot study without understanding. Moreover, honestly, it always hard and complicated for a person to learn a new language. I have to deal with a language barrier and some of the people in the USA have discriminate treatment between local people and people who come from another country. I remembered last month I ate dinner at the buffet restaurant in downtown Renton. When the customer is American coming to ask the question, the employees look really happy and enthusiastic to talk with them but after my aunt come there to ask some information about the table, a women stand there immediately change their attitude, she doesn’t look enthusiasm behavior like those local people because she knows that my aunt not actually is the citizen in here and not speak the same language.
In Bellevue College, they have both local students and also international students so with Vietnamese students, I choose to speak Vietnamese but with my teacher and other students, I will change my language to English. Besides, my host family also come from Vietnam so I speak both Vietnamese and English with her and in my own language, I call it “Vietnish”. If anyone asks me “Do you think you are your language?”. My answer will be No and Yes, Yes because, without the common language, I will be isolated from the society and No because I think language is just language, language can’t express who you are, you are you, it doesn’t affect anything if you always feel confident about yourself, about your language, about who you are.
Like Tan mother’s English seems “broken”, it does not reflect her intelligence at all, she still gets a high GPA in UW without speaking English well.