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The Trilingual Child

I was born and raised in Pakistan, (a multilingual country). My parents spoke both Urdu and Punjabi around me, but I was taught Urdu. Punjabi and Urdu are different languages but belongs to the same general family. Punjabi has a slight similarity with Urdu. Most of the Urdu speaking people can understand the written Punjabi with certain difficulty. Punjabi and Urdu are also an Indo-Aryan language. Coming in different dialects in Punjabi, Majhi dialect was one the most-used dialect in my village and even in my family. The other dialects include Pothowari, Multani, Dhani, Malwi, Hindko, and etc.

Dakhni dialect was one the most used dialect in Urdu. My parents taught me Dakhni dialect because it was more considered as a decent dialect. I grew up in an environment where my parents used Punjabi as their way of communication with the people. I started to mix Punjabi and Urdu. At that time upper class used Urdu as their language and middle class used Punjabi as their way of communication. There are numerous amount of dialects in Punjabi since it is the main language of the largest province in Punjab. As I grew up I got a better understanding of Punjabi and Urdu but on the other hand some of the dialects I still found difficult.

One day in Pakistan I had a chance to visit my uncle’s village in Peshawar where Pothwari dialect is used. It was situated away from the noise of the city. It was a peaceful and quiet place consisting of unpaved paths and streets. The village was surrounded in a hedge of green neem trees and bamboos. Most of the houses in the village were built from mud but some were made from bricks. There were green trees and flowery bushes everywhere. It was the season of “Amrood” (Guavas).

I decided to visit some parts of the village. I was walking down the street and saw a big farm on my left side. There were huge trees of guavas. The farm was very attractive and there was a tube well similar to the one we had in our farm. I decided to take a closer look at the farm. I saw a farmer, who was using the tube well for irrigation purpose. A tube well is a type of water well which is about 100 feet deep and 10-18 inches wide. It has stainless steel pipe, which goes in the well and with the help of electric motor, it brings water from it and then water is collected in a small reservoir. He was making the way for the water to flow towards the plants and trees.

I went up to him to get some information about guavas. I told him in my weird Punjabi that I am the nephew of Zahid Malik. He said “Kay Peya Kare-Nanh Band?” (what are you doing here kid?). I could not understand what he was asking, I thought maybe he is asking me to switch off the tube well, because the word “Band” means switch off in “Majhi” dialect.

So I went in to the cabin which was right next to the tube well and I switched off the tube well using a knife switch which was used to control the flow of electricity in a circuit. I heard deep, loud and aggressive sound from outside. His face turned into purple as he was getting furious. I felt ashamed for what I had done. It was only because of the different dialect. I was wondering what would he think about me. I quickly went up to him and apologized.   

Dialects can create some confusions like in “American Tongues” this documentary shows how everyone speaks English, but every single person has a different dialect because of the different region. Dialects can change the meaning of a word/sentence depending on where you live in United States. For example in the south people would say “I am fixing to take my shower.” and in the north people would say “I am about to take my shower.” similar is the case with Punjabi dialects where the word “Band” means kid in “Pothowari” dialect and in “Majhi” dialect it means “switch off”. It changes the meaning of a sentence.

When I went to school, English was introduced to me because the British education system was introduced after a few years of independence. From then people started shifting from the local Urdu education to the British education system. Soon people started to realized the growing importance of English and then made English as a mandatory language to be taught every school. It was a whole new different experience for many people. Since I was already in a process of learning, English was introduced to me.

Every single country has its own mother language, It is not just a way of communication but also a part of its culture. Pakistani people started to face a new dilemma which had an impact on both mother language and culture. After shifting to English, new generations are not proud to speak their own language. By adopting English they didn’t just adopt English but also western culture, customs and traditions. They moved toward the process of forgetting their own culture/language. One famous columnist and writer Orya Maqbool Jan said “You can learn in someone else’s language, but you cannot be creative in someone’s language.” this is the backbone of what I am trying to say. It has a deep impact on me, when I speak with my Pakistani friends they are not able to speak only Urdu, but rather a mixture of Urdu and English which is awkward sometimes. I think once you learn new language you are automatically stepping forward to adopt new culture. People should be proud of their language and accept the fact that people’s language is one of the leading components that makes them who they are.

English is obviously a foreign language to some or most, but it has its significance in the international world. When I moved to USA it was a whole new experience for me. I think there is big difference between speaking a language full time and part time because in part time you don’t get any chance to build your speaking skills. When I came here, I realized the importance of both English and Urdu. I respect both English and Urdu, that’s why I chose Urdu to converse with fellow Pakistanis and English with others. I was never ashamed of my mother language.


"Is This the Death of the Urdu Language?" The Express Tribune Blog RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Nov. 2013. <>.

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Dave Chappelle

Serge Mass

Dave Chappelle

The “Chappelle Show” written by the comedy legend Dave Chappelle, presents its characters in ways that make fun of their stereotypical speech and it influences the audience to think differently about certain groups of people.

With the show “The Chappelle show” Chappelle likes to bring out the best and worst of characters in the show through the selection of their language. With Dave being such a powerful man in the comedy strip today, he really influences people on how they view and group people. In Dave’s show, he uses a lot of stereotypes to bring out the language and tone of different races and religions to get a hook on the audience. It is as if, that is his secret weapon.  In his show, he likes to make fun of certain races speech to draw attention to his point which is to make people have a good time, but sometimes people take it too far...

For example in his most controversial skit, with the title “The Race Draft” Dave plays multiple roles. In the race draft, he plays an announcer, a black candidate, and a white candidate. With Dave being the white candidate, he spoke with a clear deep voice that is a “generic white american male voice”. When he speaks like that, the audience can hear his natural voice come out. When he is the black candidate, he just speaks with his usual voice, but with a southern tone. When he plays the announcer he is a black male, but he has a tone of voice that is very clear and contains no ebonics. When the black candidate is up to pick, his physical language is very clear that he is rooting for them. So when Chappelle uses the white voice, you can hear the black voice under it. The Audience can hear the black voice which makes Dave sound very funny. The way Dave describes the other candidates in the skit is no way that makes the audience assume that David being racist towards other races other than his own race which is black. During the skit when Dave is playing a white man he is very insensitive the other races on how he talks. For example in the skit Dave talks about trading Eminem for Tiger Woods because Eminem acts a lot more black Tiger Woods is. Dave’s definition of black is someone that wears baggy clothes and someone that listens to Hip-Hop.Then later in the skit the switches back to the African American representative and he starts talking about how Eminem is a lot blacker than the Tiger Woods, also how Tiger does not deserve to be black. Being white like me this picked up as being very racist and I'm assuming as an audience member that this could be seen as racist. In the skit when Chappelle is playing the African American candidate, towards the end of the skit when he is having his closing speech he talks with a white tone. For someone that may not understand Chappelles message, they could see it as “Black People just use ebonics and they can code switch at any point”. That is not right because the accent and the way you speak is how it will be in your roots. It may change, but it will always be what it first was.

Another example is the Clayton Bigsby skit which is also a very controversial skit in Chappelles career.  Dave Chappelle plays a blind KKK member which turns out to be black. For the skit, Chappelle has a very deep southern’ accent. For the bulk of the episode, Chappelle is in a KKK suit when he was at meetings until the end. People did not know that he was black other than the man that was visiting him from Fox’ DATELINE and his mother that fostered him. Clayton is a writer of KKK books and he goes to a book signing. No one has not seen him without his mask. The KKK members start chanting him on to take it off then he does. Peoples heads actually explode. With Chappelle acting out such a very sensitive subject, a lot of the viewers could be potentially be turned off of the show by the way he talks and some of the viewers could pick up the speech and think it is okay.

About eight years ago when the show is first broadcasted, NBC had a whole news article about the Dave Chapelle's given the wrong message that is not racist at all. Now from them saying that they obviously have not seen the show because almost every episode and most of every sketch touches on different types of racist insults and stereotypes. Then years later NBC says that Dave Chappelle is a very racist man on the way he speaks. The fact that NBC one the biggest news channels in America contradicted themselves with this outrageous claim is crazy. This is a very touchy subject in the US today about how people speak and how they're influenced by each other. Today the TV shows people want to be funny. Well sometimes they do indeed go overboard with the way stereotypes in speech are played out. There should be an equilibrium with this. There should be a board of people that can rate these television programs other than the FCC because they obviously did not catch this. If someone were to break down the way people were speaking and where they pick it up from in the United States, then about half of us would admit to picking up certain slangs from TV shows or Movies today.

Recently A show with the name of Key and Peele started getting a lot of attention. So I decided to check it out; It was an alright show, but there is one skit which made me want to do this piece. It was when this African American guy standing on the corner waiting for the light to turn green. Then another guy is walking down the street, and he is talking on the phone and he says “Yo whats up homie” and all of this stuff to make him sound like he is a gangster. Then as soon as he crosses the street he says “ oh my god, I just like almost jumped”. From this whole sketch, the audience can tell that Key and Peele are trying to make fun of the way stereotypical Gay and also Black people talk.

In conclusion, the “Chappelle Show” written by the comedy legend Dave Chappelle, presents its characters in ways that make fun of their stereotypical speech and it influences the audience to think differently about certain groups of people.


The Race Draft:

Chappelle, Dave .. "The Racial Draft." Comedy Central. Comedy Central, 10 Feb. 2008. Web. 03 Nov. 2013.

Clayton Bigsby:

Cha, Dave .. "Frontline - Clayton Bigsby." Comedy Central. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Nov. 2013.
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Hispanic language

Ameer forte

“¿Como está?”


“¿Como está?”

I looked at my great grandmother my eyes fixed on her strange words.


She shook her head in disapproval but I was used to this. My great grandma and I have never been close, I mean she did live in new york but when she was here I felt more distant to her than ever. She was the only person in my family who only spoke spanish and I dreaded the days I would have to speak to her. She would only use simple spanish of course but I still felt intimidated at the age of twelve. I would wish my mom or dad or somebody would’ve taught me spanish. Why wouldn't they, it is my culture and I had as much right as any one of my brothers and sisters to learn. I’m the oldest of my two brothers and one sister and they are all being taught spanish with every passing breath whether it be at home or school but I was taught nothing not even the simplest verb, the easiest noun. I never understood why, perhaps I still don’t. Maybe it is because I was the first child, maybe I was the test subject the kid no one really knew what to do with.

“Mom, why didn’t you let dad teach me spanish.”

I’d ask that question over and over again and she would just say, “Ameer we just weren't prepared to put you or us through that besides it worked out fine right?”

But she was wrong it wasn’t fine I couldn’t have a reasonable conversation with my great grandmother because of them. I repeatedly found myself blaming my parents for everything that had to do with spanish and when I had no reason I found a reason. In the sixth grade, I had my first spanish course and I purposely came home with a D to prove that it would be different if they would have taught me themselves. This must have went on for a couple years and then when I was in 8th grade my mom picked me up from school early which was a rare notion so when this happened I figured something had to be wrong. She told me my great grandmother was in the hospital and may not have very much time left. My heart stopped. I was pretty sure she was going to have to put me in the hospital right there with my great grandmother but somehow I pulled it together and tried to stay as strong as possible.

“It’s going to be ok Ameer, hey, she is in a happier place now right?” My mom tried to comfort me as best as she could but I remember being pretty silent the whole ride. My mom wasn’t very close to my great grandma because she was my dads mother not my moms and my mom faced the same language barrier I did at the time she also didn’t know spanish very well, but she did understand how much she meant to everyone. My mom ended up picking up on some spanish after living with my dad but she didn’t need to speak the language to see how great a person my great grandma was. I interviewed my mom and dad now and asked them the same question I used to ask them when I was younger, “So why was I never taught spanish?” This was my dad’s response,

“Well it would be easy to say we didn’t know what we were doing yet, I mean it had all happened so fast. But that wouldn’t explain why we didn’t teach you while you were growing up. So honestly I don’t know why we decided not to teach you how to speak both maybe we thought it was too much work at the time, I don’t know, but looking back now I really wish we did.” This was my mom’s answer,

“Ameer I think it was really because we just didn’t really know how to work that in, now that were older we are able to teach your siblings because we learned and we didn’t want to make the mistake if not teaching them like we did with you.” I had an understanding response to both answers. I started to realize that I was the rough draft for my parents which was why they didn’t teach spanish. This thought made me feel very uncomfortable, I couldn’t understand why I was being treated so unfairly. None of it made sense.

Soon after that I started changing the way I viewed hispanic people, I started to feel like I couldn’t talk to them, something like the Key and Peele skit we watched in class. Both men acted different around eachother, thats how I acted around hispanics, I would change completely when in their presence.The language barrier I felt with my own family had widely expanded and hispanic people became like an unknown species in my life. I ignored them every time possible, made no effort to learn spanish in school, I completely abandoned spanish. I was tired of spanish. I hated spanish and the people that bore its fruit.

After what seems like such a long time I slowly started to change. There still isn’t a moment where I don’t feel uncomfortable when in the presence of a spanish speaking person. But now I just don’t really think too much of it. As the years passed by I like to believe there was a bigger reason as to why they never taught me spanish. I think it’s because my mom and dad didn’t see the importance of me having to learn at the time. They figured I would either grow into it or wouldn’t need it at all but they admit that that was wrong. I also changed my view because of being reminded of my great grandmothers death. The day she passed I was upset and confused, now years later I look at it as an opportunity to make her proud and learn the language she always wanted me too. Thats what keeps me from giving up on spanish.  

Works Cited

Key and peele skit
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The Switch


Scene 1

Mike’s block. Mike standing on his steps holding his beverage. A pretty girl walks by; she has on skinny jeans, and a tank top. 




Turns around and sees Mike flagging her to come to him. She turns around and keeps walking. Mike walks across the street and approaches her again.



How old are you girl?


16. How old are you?


Oh, I’m 17 turning 18 next month. Can I get your number?


No, I have a boyfriend.


Ok? What that mean to me?


It means, you can’t get my number. Bye.

Tracy walks away and Mike watches her walk away, eyes on her rear end.


Man, forget you then yo. You ugly anyway bitch!

Tracy hears his remark and turns around to give him the middle finger. 


Yeah, whatever!

Mike rolls his eyes and goes back into the house. He goes in the living room and gives his grandmother a kiss on her forehead. His mother calls him into the kitchen.

Mike’s Mom

Mike! Get in here right now.


Hey mom.

Mike’s Mom

I received a phone call from your math teacher today. He said that you weren’t in class the past week and then again today but you were signed into the system as present. What you doing skipping? Then, not even that but I opened that paper on your bed, yeah your mid-term report. Why do you have two F’s Mike?!


Man, he just doesn’t like me. Mr. Andrews hated me since my junior year but yeah, I have a F in Spanish and - wait, why were you in my room looking at my stuff?

Mike’s Mom

I’m your mother! I can do whatever I want in my house. Now what’s going on with you Mike seriously.


I’ll bring the grades up, I got three weeks until grades close, I promise. 

Mike’s Mom

I’m not playing with you boy. 


Boy? Aha, I’m a grown man mom.

Mike’s Mom

Yeah okay.


But guess what? This girl just rejected me. I was all nice to her and she just gonna hit me with “I got a boyfriend” like I didn’t ask you that. Her body though was crazy!

Mike’s Mom

Mike’s mom hits him in the arm. 

Mike don’t play with me. I taught you to respect wo-


Mom, mom. I’m playing calm down. Aha, I was kidding. 

Mike wraps his arms around his mom.

Mike’s Mom

Treat women with respect, I taught you that if anything. 


I do. I treat you like a queen girl!

Mike’s Mom

Respect them girls too. 

Scene 2

Jasmine’s room. Jasmine and Isabel talking on the phone. 


Isabel! Guess what.




It’s Saturday. Kenny is coming over today!


Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat? YOUR parents letting a boy come over. Pastor Davis becoming more lenient? Say it ain’t so!


Haha, no girl please. They going out for a few hours and I told them I had finals to study for and he believed me and left me home alone. I told Kenny to be here at 1.


Look at you! Sneaking boys into ya house. Innocent little Jas isn’t going to be so innocent anymore huh?


Isabel! Imma behave myself don’t worry. 


Yeah mhm, don’t be being grown for I come over there with my belt! And don’t forget to confront him about that heffa I seen him with!


*Laughs*  I gotchu, and best believe I will girl, you know I don’t play. 


Well, call me when he leave, I want to know all the deets!


Aha, get off my phone crazy! I think this him texting me now, bye. 

Kenny knocks on the door. Jasmine looks at herself in the mirror and fixes her hair, then proceeds to go open the door for him.


Hey baby.


Hey boo. 

The couple hugs and she flags for him to enter the living room.

I laid a couple movies out. You pick.


Stomp the Yard, duh. Now come here. I missed you.

Jasmine places the movie in the DVD player and grabs a blanket. She covers herself and lays up under Kenny and he places his arm around her. She hits play. After an hour into the move, Kenny starts to try and slide his hand up her shirt and kisses her. 





C’mon baby. 

Jasmine pauses the movie and leans back from him with her hand on his chest.


Kenny, I got to talk to you.


What is it?


Ard, so I heard that you was with some girl yesterday.  Who was it? 


Grabs her hand.

It was Kayla. C’mon Jasmine. You know you’re my only one. Those other girls you see me conversing with mean nothing to me, at the end of the day, I’m coming to you.


You have a weird way of showing it.


I really don’t want to get into this right now, I love you Jasmine! I don’t care about them.




Yes. Jasmine, I love you and I really don’t want to lose you over something so simple as me holding someone’s hand. I never had a girl like you before, I’m not used to this. I know I’m messing up but give me another chance please baby. I hate when you’re mad or upset with me.

Kenny leans in for a hug and kisses Jasmine.


*Sighs* I love you too Kenny. I don’t want to lose you either. 


Kenny checks his phone to see he received a text message. 

That was my cousin. He’s coming over today, I gotta go. Are you okay baby? 


Yeah, c’mon I’ll walk you out.


*holds Jasmine’s hands and kisses her* I’m sorry about the whole Kayla thing. It’ll never happen again. Love you.

*walks out*

Scene 3

Lunchroom. Mike and Kenny sitting together.


Yo bro, wassup with you and Jasmine? Isabel told me that Jasmine was going through it Saturday morning cause you was with Kayla or something.


Isabel talk too much. Yeah, I was with Kayla. She told me I could slide through after school Friday to get some ass. I had to show her a little attention before she changed her mind. Aha.

Kenny puts his arm out intending on Mike to extend his arm also so they could do their handshake.


Naw Kenny. You gotta chill dog. You and Jasmine been seeing each other for too long for you to start with ya shit. Plus, Kayla let ANYBODY come over, if you know what I’m trying say.


She a whore? 


Yo, I was in her math class last year. Trust me, you don’t want parts in that. 


Jasmine ain’t giving up nothing though. Damn, ard bro. Good look.

The two do their handshake and Isabel and Jasmine walk over and sit down.

Scene 4

Isabel’s kitchen.


Hola Madre

Isabel’s Mom

Hola Jasmine. Como fue escuela hoy?


Mas o menos, como fue tu trabajo? 

Isabel’s Mom

Muy aburrido. 


Donde es Papá? 

Isabel’s Mom

No se, pero va a hacer tu tarea. 


Pero Madre, Yo voy a ir la casa de Jasmine.

Isabel’s Mom

*sighs* Hasta luego. 

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Making Us Different

Making Us Different

by Dillon Hershey

Imagine living on an island that is 1.236 square miles with the population being only about 730 people. The only way to get around on the island is by golf cart or by bikes. There are only three cars on the island; the mail truck, the police car and the garbage truck. There is only one fire truck and one ambulance that barely fit down the streets. There are two churches on the island. The average grade size is four kids. The main occupations are on water, like crabbing and conching. Believe it or not, an island like this exists off the coast of Virginia, called Tangier Island. It lies in the Chesapeake Bay close to Smith Island.

Tangier Island has been in my life since I was young. My grandmother’s brother flew to Tangier Island one day to get a good seafood meal and ended up bringing back some information about a bed and breakfast there. My grandmother and grandfather went on a short vacation there and really liked it, so they brought the rest of the family along the next time they went to the island. My family started to travel there in the summers, when I was about a year and a half old. Usually we would stay on the island for about four to five days and we would act like tourists. Coming in on the tour boat, renting a golf cart, staying at a bed and breakfast, catching crabs, watching the sunset, going swimming in the frigid water and getting ice cream at Spanky’s. When I was five years old, my grandparents bought a house there and we didn’t go as tourists anymore. We came in on the mailboat, we got our own golf cart, people knew who we were and we had our own house. We were almost like real Islanders*. One thing that separated us from the others though, was their accent. We never picked up on that.

The Watermen* dialect is very different from any other dialect that you will hear. It is often classified as Elizabethian, with a mixture of British and Southern accents. The very first time my family went to island, my dad remembers a boy sitting on the edge of the dock with a bucket of crabs. The boy was about five or six. He saw my dad standing there and he said “Not a very good day for crabbing.”, but it sounded like “Not a verry goood day fer craabin.” My dad had no idea what just came out of his mouth. My grandmother, who spends more time than the rest of us on the island, still can’t understand some of the watermen* when they are talking very fast to each other. Their dialect is hard to explain because it is so odd sounding. For example, when they say the word saturday, it sounds like this: “Sourer-day” while people in Philadelphia say it more like this: “Sat-er-day”. They often stretch out one syllable words containing a long ‘a’ or ‘i’ vowel sound to make the word two syllables. Crab is a word you will hear many times at Tangier because crabbing is one of the main occupations on the island. They make crab into 2 syllables like this, “craa-ab”, enunciating the first syllable. Five and bad are other examples, they would say it: “fy-ave” and “bay-aad”

American Tongues, a documentary about languages in the United States, has a two minute clip about the Tangier dialect. The dialect in the documentary is a very heavy dialect that you don’t hear very much anymore. They have started to modernize their dialect for the tourists. Islanders grew up with having to repeat themselves so that the tourists can understand them. They depend on the tourists because the other occupations besides crabbing, are all tourist based. As the tourists keep coming though, the Islanders start to accommodate their dialect so that the tourists can understand them. I can understand why the Islanders would do this but I think that tourists are having too much effect on the Islanders’ dialect. I’ve noticed that watermen, who work on boats with just people from Tangier Island, have a heavier Watermen accent than people who work on the island and interact with tourists. The dialect is still strong but not as hard to understand.

I went to the island over the summer to help my grandmother with her art classes that she teaches there. I was working with kids from ages five to thirteen. All of their dialects were different probably depending on what their parents’ jobs were. By Wednesday, I found myself thinking in their dialect. I couldn’t say any words out loud in fear of messing up and offending them but in my mind I had a sentence that was formed just listening to the kids talk. During my stay there, I understood most of the sentences that the Islanders said but sometimes it took a little bit longer for me to reply back to them if we were having a conversation.

I think, if I were to stay at Tangier for a longer time, I might pick up on their dialect. I find myself doing that already when I visit my family in Lancaster County. They also have a small dialect that I pick up on and use when I am with them. I think that it would be interesting to see if I stay at Tangier for a month, if I start to talk like one of them too. I don’t think that code-switching is bad because I do all of the time. I just think that all sorts of dialects and accents can be so different and interesting that people should try to preserve their dialects, so we don’t become a system of identical sounding humans.

*Note: There is no specific term for the people living on Tangier, so I used two different terms, Watermen and Islanders. I used Watermen while referring to the dialect and Islanders while talking about the general population of the island. I also used watermen while referring to their occupation. I used a lowercase ‘w’ because it is an occupation.

Works Cited:

American Tongues. Dir. Louis Alvarez. 1988.

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The Language Within Corporations


In the world there are many different types of corporations and these corporations have a number of different occupations that need to be filled with specialized workers. The CEOs of these companies are very different from the interns of of these companies. Furthermore the language is very different between the CEO and intern. In corporations there are things that you should not say and do in the office. In corporations there is a definite qualified language that is used and a definite way to act in a corporation. Overall, each corporation has it’s own qualified  language and each corporation chooses to add or subtract from that qualified language.   

In a corporation there is a CEO and there is an intern and other occupations within the organization. The CEO is the leader of the corporation and the boss. An intern is at the bottom of the corporation and learns from the company workers. The intern can learn more about that corporation from the people who work there because they know the business the best and they have the time to teach the intern about the company. Furthermore an intern has a different language than the CEO. Kevin Plank who is the CEO of Under Armour said “There’s an entrepreneur right now, scared to death, making excuses, saying, ‘It’s not the right time just yet.’ There’s no such thing as a good time. I started an apparel-manufacturing business in the tech-boom years. I mean, come on. Get out of your garage and go take a chance, and start your business”. Frederick W. Smith who is the CEO of Fedex said “Leaders get out in front and stay there by raising the standards by which they judge themselves – and by which they are willing to be judged”. Steve Ballmer who is the CEO of Microsoft said “Great companies with the way they work, first start with great leaders”. Overall, the language between a CEO and an intern is very different because an intern has not learned how to communicate with others, unless the intern knew before they came to the business.

One way to be successful in a corporation is being able to speak professionally and to be able to talk to all kinds of people. This will help you be successful in a corporation because you will be able to interact with other businessmen and businesswomen. One corporation that has a set language is Exxon Mobil. One reason is if you do not know anything about the gasoline business you will not be able to sell your product to other gasoline corporations. Exxon Mobil has many terms that they use in their corporation such as proved reserves, prime product sales, proved reserves replacement ratio and total shareholder return. Proved reserves are the amount of resources that can be recovered from the deposit with a reasonable. Prime product reserves are business’s expenses from the materials and labor it uses in production. Proved reserves replacement ratio is a metric used by investors to judge the operating performance of an oil and gas exploration and production company. The total shareholder return is the total return of a stock to an investor. Overall, the way knowing the terms of the company you work for is very important.

The most important part of a presentation is the speaker and how they present their idea to their audience. According newyork, “the coach would use methods from drama and would use a wide variety of methods to helps you become a better speaker”. The language and the tone that the speaker uses is very important also and will make the presentation better. According to, “there are four steps to a successful presentation which are the goal, the challenge, the solution and the result”. Overall, the key to presenting your idea is to have the knowledge of the idea and the skills to let your audience understand what you are talking about.

The reason why language is so important is because it is the way other businessmen and businesswomen respond to you and the way you get noticed by other corporations. Furthermore language is important because if you do not speak the same way as your coworkers or your boss you will not be able to work on many group projects and you will not be able to get your work done. Also you would not be hired if you were not able to speak the language of the corporation and you would probably not be able to volunteer for that corporation. The way that this all would be learned would be to go to business school and then to become an intern at a corporation and to learn from the workers there. This job would not be paid but would be worth the time because it would pay off in the future. The way to become the CEO of a corporation would be to work your way up the system and to learn from your superiors about the corporation. Overall, there are not many people who start off as the CEO of a company they usually have to work their way up the system for many years.

All CEOs start off somewhere and most have to work their way to the top of the corporation. To become the CEO of a corporation you must have the drive to get yourself to that position because everyone wants to become the CEO but not everyone wants to do the work to become the CEO of a corporation. The CEO position is also gained by being able to speak professionally in the office. This position must be earned it is not given. Overall, you must have a drive to become a CEO and you must be ready to do the work to become the CEO of a corporation.      

Works Cited:

"" - Silvermac. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Nov. 2013.

"New York Speech Coaching." New York Speech Coaching. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Nov. 2013.

"25 Inspirational Quotes By The Highest Performing CEO’s." 25 Inspirational Quotes By The Highest Performing CEO's. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Nov. 2013.

N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Nov. 2013.

"What We Do." ExxonMobil: Taking on the World's Toughest Energy Challenges. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Nov. 2013.

"Prime Cost." Investopedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Nov. 2013.

"Proved Reserves." Investopedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Nov. 2013.

"Reserve-Replacement Ratio." Investopedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Nov. 2013.

"Total Shareholder Return - TSR." Investopedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Nov. 2013.

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False Linguistic Adaptation

While attending Charles Drew Elementary School for three full years, I don’t believe I made any good friends. After my time at Drew I had to leave to attend a better public school called Penn Alexander. It was a considerable upgrade from my old school, but at the same time it was even more daunting. I was notorious for having a stuttering problem taking what seemed like days to pronounce the easiest of words, not only to add to that but I had seemed to adopt a sort of “ghetto” accent as black people from west Philly are known for having. This made changing from Drew school to PAS very difficult because it was a mix of several races meaning that my speech didn’t fit in anywhere in particular.

Interracial mingling was something that I had never seen before. I’d only ever known black people and had only seen white people on rare occasions with my mother. The idea of a white kid being able to talk to a black one was like cats and dogs hugging it out. People could have spoken anything from the “ghetto” english I had heard to the standard white one that I had only just recently heard of. Transitioning into this new mixed environment was a hard experience even then I didn’t feel adjusted until 9th grade. Transitioning from PAS to SLA was very smooth because the atmosphere between the two was very similar so I felt right at home after years of adjusting to PAS.

My dad always was a forgetful person, so it wasn’t surprised when he told me to walk down to the local grocery store to pick up some food supplies.

“Get up and go! I don’t have time for this I need to finish cooking!” said my dad angrily.

“Ugh, alright fine I’ll go just stop bothering me,” I retorted.

I slapped on whatever clothes I just took out of the wash and went outside. Now stepping outside I noticed a few things. The first one was that it dark outside and it seemed like it was about to rain soon. Secondly I had seen some people standing down the street in the direction I was going of whom I had never seen before. Being oblivious to how things looked I just kept walking staring at my feet.

“Hey young bull slow down let me talk to you,” said the second biggest one of the group.

I didn’t respond and simply kept walking. The guy looked at least 17-18 and I didn’t want to deal with him so I ignored him. The guy got distracted by one of his friends and didn’t realize I had walked off.

“Hey young bull! Hey young bull!” He kept calling as if he expected me to walk back.

I reached the grocery store which was about a block away from me house. One of the cashiers who worked at the grocery store said that the groups of guys were calling me.

“I’ve never seen those guys in my life,” I said.

“Ignore them; they are trying to mess with you,” he said.

I bought my stuff at the store and continued on my way and then went to go talk to the security officer about the people. He casually shrugged off what I had said and told me that they are just a bunch of punks messing with me. Feeling I could do nothing else I walked back to my house.

At first I hadn’t seen anyone but as I neared closer my house I saw the group of guys walk about of a driveway right near my house. They immediately circled around me; two of them frisked my pockets and took the money I had left over and the groceries. Another one punched me in the jaw and then they all counted up the money they had taken and checked the groceries I had. I quickly sprinted to my house and rung the bell as fast as possible. They saw what I was doing, dropped the groceries, and immediately ran.

The whole event changed how I view black people and made me want to disassociate myself with them while at the same time allowing myself to be able to act freely around them. I tried to act more like other black people to try and fit in and give myself some peace. It got to the point where some of my friends wanted to disassociate themselves from because they didn’t like how I was acting.

“Hey Rafi did you catch the fight between Velasquez and Lesnar” my friend said.

“Naw man shit I don’t keep up with crap like that these days, I’m busy with my other bro” I said back.

I tried so hard to emulate an accent and dialect that wasn’t really mine my friends saw right through it and didn’t want anything to do with me after that. I ended up making things worse for myself. I made an environment I felt was hostile because of who I was even more hostile towards myself as I lost friends.

Similarly, in the Comedy Central show Key and Peele, there is a skit where the two black males purposely tried to seem tougher as to assert a feel of dominance and masculinity. However when they walk away from each other the tone completely changes and one of the Men says to their friend over the phone “Oh my gosh Christian I just totally almost got mugged just now!” The two men were completely harmless to one another but because they didn’t know that about one another they automatically try to toughen up to seem more dominant as to avoid any unwanted confrontation.

I effectively judged an entire race of people because of the handiwork of a few individuals. It made me into a very judgmental person who was very paranoid. It was only after many months that I realized that my impressions were all wrong. I learned that code switching was not solving any of my problems as it only further distorted what I actually wanted to be which was a person who could speak in whatever way, shape, or form that they wanted.

The key to feeling safe and comfortable in society was for me to find middle ground where I could act the same around everybody. Only after letting go of my fear and trying to cope with my fear of getting mugged was I able to stop trying to act so intimidating when it really was not my suit. I stopped trying to talk like other stereotypical black people after being mugged because I realized it was only escalating the situation as shown in the Key and Peele skit and that I should only speak they way I wanted to.

Citations: (Key and Peele Skit)

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The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian: By Estefan Carrillo

I know I'm reading a good book when the first couple of pages grab my attention. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part- Time Indian by Sherman Alexie is one of those books. Once I picked the book up it was almost impossible to stop reading as it was simultaneously sad while cheering me up with such funny stories. I saw on the cover of the book all the amazing awards it won from when the book was first published in the USA back in 2007 but I was not prepared at all for what a fun time I would have reading. Usually I’'m not much of a reader.

Sherman Alexie was born to a Spokane Indian mother and a Coeur d’Alene Indian father. Right after his mom gave birth to him they diagnosed Sherman with hydrocephalus (water-on-the- brain) and 6 months later underwent a brain operation from which he was not expected to survive. Despite his early disabilities in life he was at the top of his class and an advanced reader. One of his early educational institutions was a school on the reservation but he then sought a better education during high school at Rearden( a majority white school) where he was a top student and outstanding basketball player. He then moved on to Gonzaga University on a scholarship from where he transferred to Washington State University after two years to study pre-med.

Fainting spells in anatomy class convinced Alexie to change his major, a decision reinforced by a love of poetry and writing. He graduated with a bachelors degree in American Studies and shortly after received the Washington State Arts Commission Poetry Fellowship and the National Endowment for the Arts Poetry Fellowship.

The book is written in the first person, semi - autobiographical account of a boy named Arnold's life as a Spokane Indian living on the reservation with his family. Arnold's life story starts right from the second you open the book. You expect a kid that is born with an oversized head, oversized hands and feet, bad eyesight seizures and and a lisp among other things to have a terrible life. He is constantly beaten and called names like retard, etc. Having  terrible misfortune continued for him as he is dirt poor and his father is an alcoholic like most Indians on the reservation. Reservation culture didn’t hold high standards and expectations for any of its residents including Arnold  Arnold's life and well being was constantly threatened by bullies some of whom were even adults.

His life was not all sadness however, it had some bright aspects to it also. He had a friend on the reservation named Rowdy, a tough kid who had always been the person that was his bodyguard and knew him since they were both babies. Junior and Rowdy used to love to go to each others houses and read comics books over and over again. No matter how many times they read the comic books they would always laugh at the corny jokes. But the brightest things in Junior’s life were his drawings and basketball. Regardless of life’s challenges, he was able to take out his frustrations & express all his feelings on paper or on the basketball court.

No matter what you went through in life or what your social status is you will connect with this book. We will all go to high school or have gone to high school and had dreams for ourselves that we may or may not have fulfilled due to influences and personal decisions much like what Junior had to experience and go through to complete what he did at the end of the book. We've all been the new kid at school or I know we've all had that weird feeling of wanting to be accepted by everyone on the first day of school.

Alexie, Sherman, and Ellen Forney. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian. New York: Little, Brown, 2007. Print.

I chose to create a basketball for the creative part because I thought that when Junior blocked Rowdys shot in the final game of the season, it showed in my opinion that he had grown through out the book and he now had more self confidence and was not afraid to stand up for himself anymore.

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I really want some cawfee, can yous go get me some!

Naomi: “Leo, Kristina, both of yous say coffee!”

Me: “Cawfee”

Leo: “Coffee”

Naomi: “Say call me.”

Me: “Cawll me”

Leo: “Call me”

Naomi: “What do you put on spaghetti?”

Me: “Gravy”

Leo: “Sauce, pasta sauce, or marinara, anything we just don’t call it gravy.”

Michaela: “Then what do you put on your turkey at thanksgiving?”

Me: “That’s brown gravy.”

This is something I can say that happens to me on a day to day basis. People around me always want to hear the way I pronounce things, along with the different word variations I use. I assume its because the list of words that have an imaginary w in them for me is endless. Growing up, I picked up my “South Philly accent” from those around me and along the way picked up some “made-up” words. There are many words I say that have no meaning to some of the different cultured people around me. I never questioned the way I spoke, or the words I said until I was in a more culturally diverse school. By that time, there was no way I could change the way I tawlk.

As a child I attend preschool at Alphabet Academy, then went to A.S Jenks until I graduated in fourth grade. At Jenks I was with almost all of the same people that lived in my neighborhood, so the speech wasn’t different to what I heard at home. When I went to Meredith it was a little different, but it wasn’t that major. When I graduated Jenks, mostly everyone went to either G.A.M.P or Meredith so I was able to stay with some of the same people for almost 10 years. With all of us living in South Philly, we all took the same bus together and always hung out with each other. Having so many similar cultural backgrounds around me allowed for only the occasional person to be taken aback by the accent in which I spoke. When I came to SLA, it was different. There was a larger variety of people here compared to what I was used to at Meredith, so my accent was more noticeable. People that are close to me are used to how I am by now, but this year I am with a lot of new people.

As people get past my accent, they also start to notice the differences in my vocabulary versus theirs. As an Italian American, what I put on my macaroni is called gravy. My macaroni is not the same as “elbow macaroni” like used for Mac and Cheese. In my household and spread through my whole family, which is a lot of people, we use macaroni to basically represent any “pasta” that isn’t spaghetti. The red stuff on top of our spaghetti was always gravy, not sauce. Everyone I was around always did, so I thought that was the only way. It might not be the only way, but it sure is the right way! When something disgusts you, you skeeve it. I grew up all my life thinking this was a genuine word that everyone used.

My nan to me: “Nan, I made the macaroni’s you really like. You might need to put more gravy on them though.”

Me: “Okay nan I’ll be right in.”

* 30 seconds later *

Nan: “Come on nan, come and eat before it gets cold. I made cawfee for ya too.”

My pop: “Oh pop, sorry I starting drinking some of your coffee. I thought it was mine, but I only took a sip you’ll be fine. You don’t skeeve me or nothing right? You shouldn’t I’m your grandfather...”

Nan: “Oh Joe shut up, nobody ast you.”

Pop: “Stop with the atteetood!”

My nan might be my nan, but she also calls me nan. Same thing with my pop. Its just something they did growing up, and now we do as well. My nan is my maternal “grandma” and when people hear what I call my nan, they usually assume I have a nanny. My nanny is my nonna, and I proudly accept all the things my family does different as part of who I am in the world.

Sometimes when people hear the things that make me different from them, they change their view on who I am as a person and my capabilities of speech. Some people will listen to what I have to say and accept that as me. I grew up the same way my mom did, with traditions passed down from our ancestors who originally immigrated to america. I am proud of who I am and wouldn’t change what makes me, me. You can accept me the way I am, but it doesn’t mean you have to change the way you are, so I appreciate those people who understand that everyone is different.Everyone comes from a different background family. But then their are those people that try to push their ways on me as if I wanted to change myself for them.

When people point out my accent and how “South Philly” I am, I wear it as a badge of honor. When people finally understand that I’m not going to change my language for them tend to then pass judgement. They think that because I don’t want to change my Italian American dialects to please another language around me, I’m wrong. They assume that I don’t know how to speak proper english and use correct grammar. My favorite part about their ignorance is when I prove them wrong. Very often I form bonds with either teachers or my friends parents as well. I cannot count the times someone has said,

“Oh my god I forgot you're not a 30 year old women!”

Or my favorite, “After you walked away we couldnt stop talking about how you don’t sound like the average teenager from south philly.”

I’m not the only one that gets stereotyped for my accent, but the difference between me and others is that I will stand up for myself at all times. During class we had a bunch of different genre essays scattered on each table. The first essay I picked up was a personal essay written by an anonymous SLA graduate. Like me she struggled with the way she spoke after she had gotten a retainer and formed a lisp. The difference between us formed when after people started making fun of her and stereotyping her intelligence by the accent in which she spoke, she shut down. She stopped talking unless needed, and didn’t hang out with her family and friends because she was scared of the embarrassment. I don’t do that now when someone has something negative to say about my accent, nor will I ever.

I don’t see myself as a victim or take on the victim role, because I am not a victim. I say I’m not a victim in the sense that I’m going to just lay down and take it. Yes I am victimised and people may beat down on me because of the way I speak, but it is my job to stand up and prove them wrong. We are all equal individuals and no one is better than anyone because they way “wooder” instead of “warter”.

Works Cited:

Anonymous Science Leadership Academy Alumni Personal Essay

Conversations with:

Flossie Scalia (Nan)

Joseph Scalia (Pop)

Leo Levy

Naomi Davis

Michaela Prell

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Nineteen Minutes- Book Review

Nineteen Minutes can Last Forever

Nineteen minutes is a riveting drama written by the well known Jodi Piccoult. She is utmost known for the book My Sister’s Keeper which was turned into a movie in 2009. Jodi is acknowledged for writing books that are not only able to capture and take the readers into the lives of the characters, but also someone who writes about real world problems. She knows how to truly draw the reader in until the last page.

Jodi Lynn Piccoult is a 47 year old woman who was born May 19,1966 in Nesconset, Ny. She has written 21 books with many more to come, her first book was published in 1992 “ Songs of the Humpback Whale”. Her latest book is “ The storyteller” which was published in early 2013. She was recently named NYT bestselling author. Jodi has a very different way of writing which detaches her from the others. When she writes a book she writes in each character's point of view, you are able to understand each person's thinking. She has changed so many people's lives through her writing. She will continue to impact people with her books for many years to come.

Nineteen minutes is  a heart stopping novel about a school shooting ( that lasted nineteen minutes).“Everyone would remember Peter for 19 minutes of his life, but what about the other nine million?” asks Peter’s mother. In the first pages of the book you meet Alex the towns judge and Josie her daughter. You are introduced into the relationship that they have and how they communicate, you then learn about Peter ( the shooter). Jodi takes you in his world from his point of view. Jodi takes you into Peter’s past and lets you know why he is the way he is and what motivated him to do the shooting. From the beginning Jodi lets you know that there is more to the shooting then you think. It wasn’t just a random rampage that one boy decided to do it was a well thought out tragedy. From the beginning pages are able to see the dynamic of the relationships in this book.  

The way that Jodi decided to write this book was beautiful. Since it was a book written about a shooting if it was written from Josie point of view (Victim of shooting) it would become very bias. When you write from each character’s view you are able to understand how the shooting affected each person. Jodi also writes from the past to the present. One chapter of the book may be 5 years before the shooting and then another chapter may be 1 month before the shooting. This is how she gives you background of each character and you are able to learn where they come from and why they behave the way that they do. By her doing this you don’t form judgements of the character, even though Peter Houghton shot his fellow class members you learn that the situation was much larger than life. Not that killing people was justified but you are able to understand him as a person. When Jodi wrote about the shooting in the book it wasn’t too much. I was scared when reading this book that the shooting part would be so sad. But the way she wrote was capturing. It wasn’t too graphic she drew you in so that you wanted to know what happen step by step.

There are many questions that are brought up in Nineteen minutes. Such as can someone be pushed too far? Another question that was brought up was could something have been done differently. Could his parents had listened to him when he constantly told them he was bullied. Another question that was brought up was did the students deserve to die? Should they have been punished for their wrongdoings? In addition why was peter bullied? Why him? Why was being different a death sentence? Why couldn’t he have just been Peter? In the book Jodi brings up a lot of issues when it comes to peer pressure and how it can really push someone past their breaking point.  

This book for the most part exceeds my expectations. Overall it was a absolutely a well written book. But at times it moved very slowly, but that was because without the background you weren’t able to understand each character. I never lost interest in what I was reading. Every Time I picked up the book I was hooked. I wanted to read all the way through to that last page. This book really opened my eyes to how much bullying can affect someone. I thought that reading this book around the time where America is being affected by school shooting would be hard but , this book only opened my eyes to the real  world problems. It also opened my eyes to the reality that some of these people are being bullied so much that they don’t know what else to do.  Anyone who likes fiction books that deal with realistic problems should read this book. Also it is just a good read the way she develops the characters and the life portrayed in this book is amazing.

Nineteen Minutes

Jodi Picoult

Washington Square Press

Copyright 2007


455 pages

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Culture and Profanity

Culture is the main system that defines what category an individual fits in. A culture can consist of education, media, music, art, morals/religion, and most importantly, language. One part of language that culture has a large impact on his profanity. Profanity/curse words are a subset of language that is considered strong, obscene, and overall dirty. However, these words can still be apart of ones common diction, and are “okay to use” under certain circumstances. Permission to use profanity comes from culture because culture defines what profanity is. Since every culture has diverse definitions of what is social norm and what isn’t, certain behaviors and language that are natural for one culture are deemed blasphemous and obscene for another.

The way in which profanity is depicted in the media depends on an innumerous amount of variables and complications. For essentially every circumstance, however, culture has the main influence on the laws that dictate what language is “too obscene,” or what is perfectly fine to say publicly. When such boundaries are crossed, censorship is used. Censorship in the United States has liberalized over the years, and censorship in the United Kingdom is also rather lax with its linguistic risks.  Take into account two different versions of the same television show that is common amongst the teenage population of both the United States and the United Kingdom; Skins. Both Skins UK and Skins US are known for their impulsive and radical usage of obscenity and foul language. In Skins UK, Effy uses terms like “shagging” and “surf and turf” (SE3E01: “Everyone”)  to describe sex, and when Freddie confesses to Effy that he’s in love with her, he blatantly says “I really fucking love you.” (SE4E05: “Freddie”)  In Skins US, when Tony was making phone calls to people about Stanley, he says that he “Has to get laid by the time he’s 17, or he can’t be my friend anymore.” (SE1E01: “Tony”)  Even with the slight lenience of censorship, it caused far more controversy and lead to the show going off air after the first season. Reasons why Skins US got far more negative attention was because it publicly presented things too obscene for American media. American culture contrasts from the United Kingdom’s culture because the UK is open to accepting what’s considered improprietous language as a social norm, as well as a natural human behavior. Because the UK’s definition of profanity is less stringent, it gives permission to freely use what’s defined as profane in the US.

With a majority of religions, there is a wide range of mandatory edicts strictly against vulgar language.  In Catholicism, there are a specific amount of rules that must be followed by every Roman Catholic entitled The Ten Commandments. In the Ten Commandments according to the Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church, there are two particular commandments that specify  the wrongdoings of using foul language and other swear words. Two of them would be the second commandment, “Thou shalt not use misuse the name of the Lord your God in vain,” (New American Bible, Exodus 20:7) and the sixth commandment, “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” (New American Bible, Exodus 20:14)  Using God’s name in vain is considered a form of swearing as well as blasphemy. With the sixth commandment, committing adultery can be defined/interpreted as any sort of act that is sexual or impure towards your body. Cursing/swearing fits into this criteria, because it is thought of to be degrading and harmful towards one’s self. What is fascinating about these two commandments especially, though, are that they state two natural human behaviors as being vulgar and degrading, and a majority of curse words are essentially just language that describes these natural human behaviors. Though because the culture of Catholicism does not give permission to use such words, they have become profane, because culture defines the line between vulgarity and normality.

In just about any and every educational environment, the concept of obscenity is either completely avoided, or deemed as subject too inappropriate to approach with any depth. This is because of ethics that are established in the culture of learning. Though recently, the comfort level with profanity has been increasing especially in educational environments. In a New York Times article about educated people using foul language in America, it states that “In our society, the main taboo is no longer sex, but race.” (“Room for Debate”) And also talks about how our offense evolves throughout the time. It also states that, after a certain amount of time, “people clutching at their pearls at things like that will look as quaint as people considering it a big deal that Clark Gable said ‘damn’ in ‘Gone With the Wind.’” (“Room for Debate”) Because of the fact that Americans are no longer offended by impropriety, they have now moved on to hyperbolizing the insult of using a racial slurs. The definition of profanity is constantly revising and evolving based on what a culture is offended by, and because of the recent epidemic of sexual exploitation, there is no more controversy or shock towards it, and it has become so natural that such words can be comfortably used by educated people. Now, ethnophaulisms are the new definition of profanity, and any permission to use that profanity will come from the culture that has defined it.

Permission to use profanity comes from culture because culture defines what profanity is.  Since every culture has diverse definitions of what is social norm and what isn’t, certain behaviors and language that are natural for one culture are deemed blasphemous and obscene for another. Culture is what dictates ethical and unethical behavior, regardless of its normality or naturality elsewhere. The boundary between ethical and obscene accentuates the line between right and wrong, and carries out the importance of doing and saying the right things.

Works Cited:

"Everyone." Skins UK. E4: 22 Jan 2009. Television.

“Freddie.” Skins UK. E4: 24 Feb 2010. Television.

“Tony” Skins US. MTV 17 Jan 2010. Television.

The New American Bible.

"Why Do Educated People Use Bad Words?" Room for Debate Why Do Educated People Use Bad Words Comments. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Nov. 2013. <>.

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Black English

All across America there are African-American people who speak an english that is similar to our but not exactly the same. It started in the darkest times of this country. The times of slavery. When White Americans enslaved thousands of African-Americans and forcefully brought them to America. With no knowledge of english African-Americans adapted and tried their best to communicate. White Americans forced African-Americans to create their own version of english during the times of slavery.

In James Baldwin’s essay, “If Black English Isn’t a Language, Then Tell Me. What Is?”, in the sixth paragraph he begins to explain the origins of Black English and how it may have came to be, “..the slaves began the formation of the black church, and it is within this unprecedented tabernacle that is Black English began to be formed...the adaption of a foreign tongue.” I personally believe that Baldwin’s correct. As an American I have pride in the country and the people in it, but we did something horrid. We brought Africans to the states as slaves. Then when they began to try and communicate with their own version of our language we discriminated against them harshly, and told them they had to speak our English. It’s a hard topic to fathom but it’s all true.

Also in Baldwin’s paper in the second paragraph where he starts to compare and contrast other systems that are involved through languages he argues, “A frenchman living in Paris speaks a subtly and crucially different language from that of the man living in Marseilles, neither sounds much like the man living in Quebec, Guadeloupe, Martinique, or Senegal although the “common” language of all these areas is French.” Now Baldwin raises a great point here. He’s comparing the French language system to the English one. He says a man in Paris sounds different than a person in Marseilles. That would be like saying a man from Brooklyn sounds different than a person in Mississippi. Which is undoubtedly true. He then also goes on about other French speaking countries in which most french natives couldn’t even understand the language they’re speaking there. It all winds back to colonization. When the french took over these countries they had forced the people living there to learn french. So the natives made it their own. Just like how African-Americans made english their own, and frankly I don’t blame them one bit.

Since the times of slavery are over and white people and black people are integrated we have learned to live alongside each other in peace. The only difference between us now besides our skin color is the variation of english that we speak. African American Vernacular English is the proper name for it, but it actually is a separate language from english created by african-americans. A great example is pulled from a Kanye West song called “Otis”, “They ain't see me cause I pull up in my other Benz. Last week I was in my other other Benz, throw your diamonds up cause we in this bitch another 'gain.” The reason I’m using a Kanye West lyric is to show how this “dialect” spreads around to the younger generation. If the younger generation speaks in this dialect then it will only become more popular. In fact even white people have begun to take on a form of this speech from being around African Americans so much. Nothing wrong with that, it’s just that we as a country need to recognize that we actually are creating a new English.  In all honesty I don’t like this type of music at all, but if slavery is the reason that most African Americans speak in this dialect then I hope they continue to.

Mostly all African-Americans have spoken or will be speaking African American Vernacular English in the future, this is because of the recent migrations of African Americans from the southern states toward the northern states. Therefore, the African American men and women who had slaves as their ancestors and those who were handed down the dialect from them are spreading out. With spreading out comes passing on and what’s happening is, the farther they spread the more popular this dialect becomes. More and more people will continue to be exposed to African American Vernacular English. All of this had started when we sailed to Africa and brought back slaves from West, Central, and even Southern Africa. So all of these Africans shoved on a boat together each of them speaking different languages had no clue on how to communicate. After a while when they got to the states they began to be exposed to English and they tried to learn it the best they could, all while slave working. And thus African American Vernacular English was born.

Works Cited

Baldwin, James. "If Black English isn't a language, Then Tell Me, What Is?" (Essay)

West, Kanye. "Otis" (Song)

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Ender's Game Linguistics

Ender Wiggin is the average American six year old. Well, not really, but he’s an American, fictional six year old. Ender Wiggin in the main protagonist in Orson Scott Card’s 1983 science fiction novel Ender’s Game (and all of all the other books, Speaker For The Dead, Xenocide, Children of the Mind, Ender’s Shadow, Shadow of Hegemon, Shadow Puppets, First Meetings, Shadow Of The Giant, A War of Gifts, Ender in Exile, Shadows in Flight, Earth Unaware, Earth Afire, and Shadow Alive).  He’s the third, he has an older brother Peter and an older sister Valentine. They live in a world where English in the “international standard” and every kid in the world is learning it. Except French kids, France kept tradition and gives kids 4 years to learn French before starting with the international standard. Earth is faced with a Bugger (or Formic, dependent on whether or not you intend to see the movie or read the wiki page) crisis, where they are being invaded with an alien species. Young Ender is sent to an international military school, where he is with kids from all over the world being trained to lead the International Fleet, better know as the I.F. While all of the boys speak English, they speak variants of English. The dialect and accent that the kids speak affects their hierarchy and education levels.

There is this boy in Ender’s launch group, named Bernard, from France. The story is narrated from a third person perspective, but from Ender’s thoughts, we see that he thinks that Bernard has a very exoctic, rare sounding accent.  Ender’s original perception of Bernard is that he is snobby and arrogant. He doesn’t have this idea about the other boys in his crew, but because Bernard is French, then Ender thinks that he’s arrogant. They use language and other things to turn the students against each other. The officers clearly establish who is from France and they single out Ender on the ride to Battle School. Colonel Graff thinks that isolation maintains creativity, and he clearly doesn’t believe in the core value of collaboration.

Then in the game room, Ender meets kids who are older than he is, but have this sort of uneducated, slow sounding English. Some of them sound slightly southern. but mostly the spoke with an improper sense of grammar. None of them were commanders or platoon leaders, all of them were just soldiers. All of the boys who lead in the top armies, such as Dragon or Rabbit, were all American, British, Australian, or French. They all spoke some sort of almost unaccented English.

Not only are all of the student commanders and platoon leaders from wealthier, well educated countries, the same also applies to all the leaders and officers from the I.F. that we see in the book. Colonel Graff, who is in charge of Ender’s training whilst he’s at Battle School is American, and always conducts himself with this great sense of propriety in his English. When Ender is at Command School, he has a teacher by the name of Mazer Rackham. He defeated the Buggers in the first invasion and is a great commander. Mazer’s English is average, he makes typical mistakes while speaking, but all in all, speaks standard, unaccented English. This is fairly typical of people who are high up in the I.F.

While Ender is at battle school, his two siblings at home decide they want to take over the web and start writing political commentary. Because Peter is only 12, and Valentine is only 10 at the time that they do this, the decide to take up the pseudonyms of  Demonthes and Locke. Peter plays Locke, who is a person who encourages communication between nations regarding the Warsaw Pact. This is strange because Peter is not at all like that in real life; Peter would skin squirrels alive and watch them suffer and die. Valentine is quiet and sensitive in real life, she baked cakes on Ender’s birthday even though he was at Battle School and no one baked anymore. She always stuck up for Ender when Peter would bully him. Valentine’s online persona, however, stirs up tension between governments and doesn’t encourage any communication between anyone. The online personas of the kids causes great political tension and they are both employed to be working full time writing columns for websites on the net. However, in order for them to have done so well, they had to present the front of a well-educated, wealthy men who are very politically inclined. Peter couldn’t present himself as a ruthless 12 year old boy who was jealous of a third who got to go to Battle School. Valentine couldn’t present herself as a 10 year old girl who was sensitive and fearful for her brother’s psychological and physical well being. Valentine had to present herself as a man, first and foremost, for anyone to take her seriously. Secondly, she had to not be kind-hearted or sensitive at all. She had to use such harsh language to not show herself and to make her opinion known and popular. Whereas, Peter on the other hand, had to phrase his thoughts in such as way that made him look very deep and thoughtful, while encouraging communications and world peace. Peter’s character had to be careful to not use strong or harsh language in order to get his thoughts and opinions well known.

As children running this column, it became so well known that they had to compare and contrast the views of Demonthes and Locke for school. Valentine almost got herself in trouble, writing such an eloquent analysis on comparing the views of the two, that the school wanted to publish it on the school website. The problem with that though, was that the writing style between Demonthes and Valentine was almost identical. After that, she quickly learned that she not only had to code switch while talking, but she almost had to have two separate writing styles and vocabularies. Peter was better at not revealing his character, because he had always code switched between talking to Ender and Valentine and talking to adults. Peter had created this facade that caused adults to see him as a sweet, intelligent, sensitive boy instead of the ruthless killer he was in his younger days.

Back at Battle School, Ender is in Salamander Army under the command of Bonzo Madrid, from Spain. Ender’s first mistake in the army was to pronounce the commander’s name wrong and to not speak to the commander properly. Despite Ender eventually being the most valuable soldier in the army, Bonzo has a bad impression of him because he has a Spanish name and Ender isn’t familiar with Spanish names. Although English is the international standard, most countries kept ethnic names with influences of past languages.

All in all, language is very powerful. As we see from Ender’s Game, language affects the boys’ ranks and how they were seen by other boys. Language also gave them a sense of individuality, and we always knew who was talking even when it was clearly spelled out. We see language, while key to communication, affects the hierarchy of society.

Works Cited

Card, Orson Scott. “Ender’s Game”

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Have you ever had something you couldn’t do? Something you couldn’t say? That’s me, that’s who I..... or at least who I was. Ever since I got my braces, the things I used to say, I say no more. One time during Freshman year, I said a word that I hadn’t used in a while. This word was so simple, and the fact that I couldn’t say it made me livid. It was so embarrassing. I tried, tried, and I tried again, but I couldn’t pronounce it correctly. It got to the point where my entire class made fun of me. God, I hated these braces. Eventually it got better, but until that happened, I was the butt of the joke.

One day, a couple of my friends and I were having a conversation. I don’t remember what it was about, but I went to say this word and all I got in response was a room full of laughter.

“WHAT? Can you say that again?”

“What are you talking about?” I uttered with a face of confusion. I was so lost as to what they were talking about. Thinking to myself, What are they talking about?

“Repeat your sentence,” another said.

“When you get married you should be......,” and then I knew what they were talking about. I knew my braces had changed the way I spoke, but not to the point where it was noticeable. So I said it.


I said it again just to be sure that this is what they were laughing at. As soon as the word left my lips, the room erupted again. At first it was a little funny, but then it got annoying. Every time I said something, someone else would end up asking me to say the word again.

“Can you say ‘purr’ again?”

It really got to the point where I just eliminated it from my vocabulary. Clearly that wasn’t the word I was trying to say, but everyone wouldn’t listen to that part. Not having someone to listen to me, and to have everyone laugh at me, caused me to cry. I wasn’t crying because they were laughing; it was because I felt defeated.

When I went home,  I told my mom about the situation. After hearing what I had to say, she just told me that sometimes there are certain challenges people have to overcome. Everyone can’t be perfect at everything. I knew that my mom knew the struggle I was going through because she has had similar situations occur in her life.

Although I got to talk to my mom about it, I still felt some type of way because she wasn’t in my predicament. I felt lonely because I thought I did not have anyone my age to relate to. I understand that she could understand, but I wanted to not feel the way I did. I felt upset and defeated. I hate not knowing how to do something. Knowing that I couldn’t say, the word, not only affected my speech, but the way I was thinking.

After realizing that I couldn’t say the word, I got upset. “Upset” is really an understatement. Sometimes I cried, but that was in the comfort of my home. Then I started to think, I’m just like a baby, so why not learn to say it and adjust to my braces. So when I was alone I would concentrate on saying that one word.

“Purr. No! Peerrr. No.”

Sometimes I even got mad with myself and would go days without trying to practice. But I knew that if I wanted to say that word again, I would have to continue to try. After a while I got better and I felt confident about it. So I had a conversation with a friend and she decided to bring oiiup that topic.

She said,“......hahaha that’s why you can’t say.....”

Knowing that I could actually say the word without much effort, I laughed and said, “Why can’t I? Pure.”

When I said that, it shut her up and she was surprised. I was a little surprised, too. Not only that, but I was proud that I could actually do it. Knowing that I could say the word, “pure,” I felt some confidence coming back. I was strengthening my resilience to bounce back from that situation, and obstacles like that.

Now that I am a sophomore, I can relate this situation to a clip that I recently watched. The clip is titled, “American Tongues,” by James Baldwin. The clip talks about the different ways that Americans speak. James Baldwin traveled across the country and got different individuals to say certain things. When my peers heard me say the word, “pure” wrong, they didn’t realize that my braces caused an accent. The way I spoke was because of the complications that I have had. That is how the different Americans in the clip portrayed one another. They said each other was wrong, but didn't realize they were all correct, but had different ways expressing it.

Looking back on freshmen year, I feel as though the incident was a barrier that I broke through. Now that I know that it’s okay to fail, just as long as you can come back from it, makes me a better person. This has helped me for situations to come and has helped me have a better outlook on obstacles. Adjusting to my braces was not easy, but I am glad to have them. At first they got me upset because I could not say what I wanted, but later on it showed that even with the circumstances that I have, I could make the best out of it.

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It's Gravy, Guys

“Excuse me. Can you please show me where the gravy is?” I shuffle through the endless aisles, piled to the brim with food. We reach our destination as the worker peels away. I nod a silent thank you and look at the wall in front of me. Cans of gravy. Brown. Not the gravy I wanted. “This isn’t what I wanted,” I say aloud to myself. I draw the attention of other customers, but do my best to ignore their glares.

I leave the aisle at once, almost disgusted with the fact that I didn’t get the real gravy, the Italian gravy, that I was searching for. I wander around the grocery store looking for the sweet Italian perfection my father had instructed me to get. I finally find it, perched atop the highest shelf in aisle 9. I politely handed the cashier the can. She slid the barcode swiftly across the scanner, “Tomato Sauce- $3.99”.

“Dad, he gave me brown gravy. BROWN.”

“It’s Jersey bud, we aren’t on ninth street anymore. They don’t talk the way we do.”

“God, I hate these people.”

I never thought about it. They’re so close apart, separated by a small body of water, but

they do things so much differently. The way we drive, the way we cook, they way the houses look, but the way we talk especially. They say coffee, not “cawfee.” They say water, not “wooder.” I had to make that adjustment when I moved, but I did it subconsciously at first. I hadn’t even realized that I started pronouncing the “a” in water instead of the “o”. I wanted to be normal to them. I wanted to speak like them, I wanted to speak correctly to the new neighbors in their cookie-cutter house. I remember the first time I spoke to them, they knew instantly where I was from.

“How’d you know?” I would ask, confusedly.

“I mean, the way you ‘tawlk’ instead of talk. Everything has an ‘aw’ in it and everything sounds different from the way we say it here.”

That made me conscious of the way I spoke, the way I stood out from everyone else. I started making an effort to say things the “normal way.” I wanted to be like them, be someone that they wouldn’t make fun of or look at differently because of the way I spoke. I’d rather fit in with people there then feel inferior because I spoke, what I felt was, a complete different language from them. I wanted to fit in with the kids there not in the things I did but in the way I spoke.

I did keep, however, the words that people from New Jersey didn’t know, or words that we as Italians pronounce so differently that they couldn’t possibly know what I was talking about. Gravy for instance, the red stuff. I will always say that, no matter where I go. It's my heritage. It's who I am. It will always stay with me. But gravy is a real word, just a different meaning to people from South Philly. Other pronunciations are so different, they don’t resemble the original word at all. Italians say “rigut” instead of ricotta. We say galamad instead of calamari. Those are the things I would never change. The words I keep with me no matter how much it sets me apart from others.

        A video we watched in class, Americana Tongues, demonstrates how language differs from region to region, and reinforces the idea that no matter how small the distance, the English language we speak is all different. The way one part of Boston speaks is different from the way another part of Boston speaks, same with New York. Their languages and dialect are entirely different and they're in the same city. An entire body of water separates Philadelphia and Cherry Hill, the languages are completely different. It makes me feel like an alien.

I’d like to say I recover my language when I come back to Philly, but I’d be lying. I feel like Jersey has changed me, stripped me of something that was a big part of my identity, the way I speak. The language made me feel closer to my family. It made me feel at home. Now I can’t “tawlk” like that no matter how hard I try. Most people would say, “It’s your language. It’s like riding a bike. You never forget.” They’d be right. I didn’t forget. I subconsciously choose not to speak like that. It’s like my brain knows it isn’t the “correct” way to speak, so it refuses to let my mouth and tongue move in such a fashion to pronounce those words in that manner.

It would be easy to blame Jersey for taking away my language, for taking away who I am, but that isn’t the truth. I blame myself. I let this happen. I became conscious of what other people thought of me, something that I told myself I’d never do. I changed for the sake of other people’s acceptance, even though, at first, I thought I was changing for myself. I thought it was what I wanted.

“Dad, do you like it here?”



“It has its ups and downs. They can’t drive and their cheesesteaks aren’t as good. We can’t walk anywhere. But on the other hand, we have a pool because we have a backyard and its safe here. The ‘wooder’ is better too.”

“Dad, how’d you do that?”

“Do what?”

“You said ‘wooder’. That’s not how people say it here.”

From that moment on, I never heard my dad say “wooder” again. He never said “haungry”, there wasn’t an “aw” in everything he said anymore. I realized it wasn’t just me. It was human nature. When the way you do something is deemed different from the norm, you want to change yourself to fit in, whether it be consciously or subconsciously. As people, we don’t like feeling inferior because we’re different.

Still, even after realizing that, I can’t speak my native tongue. The sharp South Philly accent has left me, never to come back again. I force myself to speak that way sometimes, but it just comes out wrong. It feels forced, because it is. It comes out right, but all wrong. My mouth and tongue may never move the same way again, and produce the same noises that I once called my language.


American Tongues. Film. 4 Nov 2013.

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Stuttering is a Language

“You can’t d-d-do this t-to me! You won-n’t ever find a b-better act-tor!”

“I’m sorry, but we simply cannot cast someone with your condition!”

“But th-this is my d-dream”

“I am sorry, but our decision is final.”

My name is Steven Cyders and I am an actor. Well... I’m trying to become an actor. I have a stutter, so nobody really takes me seriously. I’ve tried to fix it in the past, but nothing seems to help. For as long as I can remember I have wanted to be an actor, but everyone always told me that I should try to find a goal that was more attainable, something more realistic. I didn’t listen though. If you could look past my stutter you would see I am a great actor.

After my last rejection, my 42nd, I did some thinking. I came up with a new plan for getting rid of my stupid stutter. I reasoned that a good actor can do different voices and accents besides their own, so if my ‘accent’ is a stutter, I just have to do a different accent. It’s brilliant! If I use someone else’s voice, then I won’t stutter. The only problem with this is that I don’t know how to do any other voices, I always focused on the emotional part of acting when practicing because my stutter made it difficult to do voices. I guess that the best way to learn something is to experience it yourself, so if I want to learn a different dialect, I need to hang around people who use it. So I have to do two things; first, figure out what dialects I want to study, and second, google techniques for analyzing speech.

After doing some research I have narrowed it down to a few different dialects; Southern, Western and Boston. Hopefully along the way I will find something something subtler, something that isn’t tied to an area, something normal, something without a stutter. I am hoping that by the end of this trip I can reduce my stutter. I leave for Alabama tomorrow. I am really excited to start this learning process and see how people in different parts of the country speak.


I awake to the steady beeping of the hotel alarm. This is it. This is the day I start my journey, the journey I hope will change my life for the better. After getting dressed I go to a diner for breakfast. I figure if I can go to a small diner I will get to hear some of the locals in their natural environment.

I get to the diner and I only have to wait a few minutes until a waitress comes over to take my order. She speaks with a classic southern drawl that gets me giddy in anticipation to learn it.

“My name’s Ellen and I’ll be servin’ ya dis mornin’. Anything I can git fer you hun?” She says.

“I’ll j-just have s-scram-mbled eggs an-nd b-bacon p-please.” I stutter. I spend the rest of the morning in the diner, listening to the conversations around me and to the waitress who brings me my food and fills my coffee a few times.

From what I was able to gather at the diner, southerners are polite and respectful, but sound almost uneducated to someone unaccustomed to hearing their contractions and vowel pronunciation. They seem to always call people Sweetie, Honey, Darlin’, or some variation. Their R’s are drawn out and soft, and AH becomes AW, like father and fawther. I think I understand their language well enough, so now all I have to do is practice. The best way I can think to do this would be to talk to myself in a mirror and try my hardest not to stutter. I set out for Boston tomorrow.


I am still practicing my southern accent, but I am getting kind of frustrated. I thought it would come easier, I thought I would have it down by now, but I guess it will take more work than I had hoped; I will have to work really hard to get rid of my stutter.

After I drop my bags at the hotel I decided to start at Faneuil Hall, a famous marketplace. As I am walking around I can hear a few accents, but I need to engage in conversation to get a better understanding of the language.

“Exc-cuse me, c-can I t-talk to you f-for a second?” I say to a man who walks by.

“Shure, I gyess. How can I help ya?” The guy replies in a thick nasally Boston accent.

“Well, I’m n-not from ar-round here and I w-was wondering if-f you could tell m-me the sign-nificance of-f this hall.” I ask him, gesturing at the building over my shoulder.

“It’s bay-sically just a meating playce that has been ahround synce the seventeen hundreds and nyow it is awlso paht of Bouston National Histo-ical Pahk.” He says.

“T-thanks.” I say.

I spend the rest of the day talking to the people passing by and get a pretty good understanding of the language.

Well that’s it for Boston. From what I heard Bostonians have a nasally way of talking and they turn their Rs into AHs. I am getting better at the Southern accent now too, I am not stuttering nearly as much. I guess it’s time to practice the Boston accent, hopefully my experience from the last one will make it easier. I hope I can master these by the time I get home.

So I am off to Oregon tonight. The western dialect is one that the majority of the country sees as normal and plain. This is the one that I am most excited to learn, but I think it will be the hardest. I guess you could say that I already have a western accent, but I don’t like to look at it like that because it would hinder me trying to lose my stutter.

When I get to Oregon I decide to go to a park today. I wander around listening to the people talking. I find it hard to pick out specific things in their speech. They do not have defining characteristics of speech. As I walk around I wonder if maybe they do have accent. Maybe to the southerners in Alabama they sound funny, or to the nasally Bostonians. But just like someone with a southern or boston accent sounds normal to them, the people here sound normal to me. I sit down on a bench to think and by the time I leave I have convinced myself that I will always have a stutter.

This trip was useless; I will never get rid of my stutter. I got a ticket for the next flight home. Maybe everyone was right, maybe I can’t be an actor. I guess that’s it then. I will go home, try to find a decent job and forget this whole thing.


Well it turns out I was wrong. When I got back home everyone told me how much my stutter had improved. I was shocked! I had thought I did not learn anything at all. I recently decided to start taking speech classes, and my stuttering has really been improving. I even have a new audition on Friday! I think that with a little more practice and focus, people might actually start taking me seriously. It’s not perfect, and it can’t be completely cured, but at least it always leaves room for improvement.

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Perceptions of Individuality and Others

Does an individuals accent or regional speech affect how they are perceived? Around the world different accents and dialects have developed through the years. Right along with the dialect and accent development came the perception development. In the movie American Tongues, many people from different places in the United States speak about how they view other people and how other people view them, based on accents. The individuals, in the movie, who are interviewed also mention how accents or dialect affected certain decisions that they made. Language gives people a sense of individuality, but assumptions can affect perceptions.

At the beginning of the movie, the narrator is speaking about how people hearing the accents from remote mountain areas or islands of the East Coast region, view them. He also put a label on the people viewing the speech of certain places in the United States, when he said, “... may sound old fashioned to outsiders.” By saying the word, “may,” it shows that he is aware that assumptions are being made, but he does not have proof to back up what he is saying. The listener, to the video, is given the opportunity to hear some examples of the speech, but he never identifies what makes it be perceived as “old fashioned.” When he says “old fashioned,” he showing how the viewers are perceiving those with his accent. He uses that example to show one of the many categories people with different accents get placed in. The word ‘outsiders,’ is used to give the individuals that are labelling him, a label. He, too, is perceiving individuals.

Near the middle of the movie, a woman is speaking about why she left her boyfriend. She does not like how his speech reverted to his childhood speech, when they visited his hometown so she said, “...someone with those little accents was not going to crawl around inside of me, I was not going to have little southern babies who talk like that…” By saying, “who talked like that,” she proves that the language is what bothered her, not that they were southern. It seems as though she perceives this accent as sounding less educated than others. She wanted her children to speak like her, she didn’t want them to be different or individual. She assumed that if she married this guy, her children would have southern accents, which wouldn’t necessarily be true. It seemed that she had tied how he spoke, to her perception of him, which has now changed. She didn’t want her husband to be an individual and speak how he was comfortable, because she didn’t like it, and seemed to attach meaning to the way he spoke. It appears that she was not just focussed on how she felt about him, but how is southern accent would affect her and their future generations. She perceived him as a hillbilly, because he wasn’t speaking in a voice that she was accustomed or attracted to.

At the end of the movie a man is speaking about stereotypes, and how most people view certain types of people. In this instance, he was referring specifically to social class perceptions. He categorized groups of people when he said, “If you're a member of one of these stigmatized groups then the way you talk will also be stigmatized.” By saying “groups,” that immediately shows that although people are individuals, they get categorized. If an individual gets put into a group, then people will perceive him or her differently than if he or she were by themselves, or part of a different social or economic group. Using the word “will,” shows a sense of certainty; he knows that people will be stigmatized or perceived a certain way. By saying “then,” he is making a point that if you identify with one of the groups, it will cause you to be perceived a certain way no matter how you talk.

At Science Leadership Academy, students view accents as a good thing. They like that people are different or unlike everyone else. There are many quotes that I could use to show how people at SLA feel, but a few words that many students here have in common when they think about accents, are “pretty,” or “beautiful.” The people at SLA are open to differences, therefore when they meet people with accents different than theirs, they don’t assume that those people are less educated or will act a certain way. The word “pretty,” shows that the listeners have heard what the individual with an accent sounds like, rather than assuming that all people from that region sound the same. It also shows that the perceptions of people can be positive as well. When they say, “beautiful,” they show that they are being accepting and welcoming to each student with an accent, which helps those with different dialects to feel comfortable in an environment where everyone else has the same way of speaking.

Language gives people a sense of individuality, but assumptions can affect perceptions. These interviews show that perceptions of human beings can individualize or categorize citizens of the United States. Something as simple as an accent or dialect can identify or define a person. Even the social or economic group an individual belongs to, may cause people to perceive that individual in a certain way. This shows that people's perceptions of accents can take away individuality, by pressuring people to conform to a specific style of speaking. Another way assumptions can affect perceptions, is by people positively have an assumption. When one makes an assumption about someone, whether good or bad, others will perceive the individual a certain way until they can get to know the person.

Works cited:

N/A. "Documentary: “AMERICAN TONGUES” by Andrew Crowley." Web log post.Ravenouslanguage., 06 Dec. 2010. Web. 02 Nov. 2013.

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Globalization of Communication

Globalization of Communication

It is easy to take language for granted. From when we are born, we breathe language in like air. Words surround us and penetrate us, and as we grow, we internalize them. Language becomes a tool so natural to us, that we fail to even notice it. It becomes indistinguishable from our thoughts, simply a part of us. This may be why our species fails to question the languages we work with. While language does create a means of communication between an individual and others, the way in which language has evolved has built artificial walls, which divide the global community along racial, ethnic, social and cultural lines. These unnatural divisions help to enforce xenophobia and bigotry. Perhaps more importantly, though, they make communication between individuals of different backgrounds more difficult than it could be. In effect, this inability to share ideas and collaborate has slowed the evolution of human thought.

Civilization is constantly evolving. Our understanding of ourselves, each other, and the universe in which we exist have been refined and updated with every generation, allowing us the power to shape and mold our lives more effectively. This is where language comes in. The capacity for creating such intricate systems of communication is uniquely human, as is the success and development it has brought this species. Language has enabled every major advance of human thought that led to this success. During times of revolutionary academic pursuit and discovery, entire regions come together to discuss and collaborate. From the Renaissance, ushering humanity out of the Middle Ages to the Islamic Age of Enlightenment and its concomitant scientific and philosophical revelations, language has been essential. Each of these revelations, however, was driven by a single cultural group.

Every unique dialect, every unique accent and every unique language grew out of the needs of its speakers, and therefore reflects only that group. A black slave toiling away in a 19th-century cotton field needs different tools to express different ideas than a French bourgeois in a lavish sitting room. Consequently, the slave and their descendants will speak differently than the bourgeois and theirs. This means that the slave and the bourgeois are even less likely to collaborate for the betterment of humanity as a whole. If every cultural group experiences the world and thus speaks about the world in a different way, intercultural communication becomes problematic. With fewer possible contributing voices, progress moves slower.

So language helps us, but the way it has evolved is hindering us. What do we do? If the obstacle to global collaboration is the wall of language, then we must eliminate that wall. By learning more than one language, multilingualism, an individual gives themselves the key to cross the language barrier. As G. Richard Tucker points out in A Global Perspective on Bilingualism and Bilingual Education, there are now more multilingual speakers in the world than monolingual speakers. This multilingualism may close the gap between speakers of different languages, but it is not without its shortcomings. The most widely spoken language in the world is English. English, however, was originally spoken in medieval England. Since that time, English has been the language of the English people and their descendants. It is their language. If English were to become the language of intercultural communication throughout the entire world, it might be perceived as having a higher value than other languages. In turn, this might place its original speakers, the people of Britain, Australia and the United States of America, above those who more recently adopted the language. While adopting one of the world’s many organic languages on a global scale is one option, it would be inefficient to use an existing language based on these cultural ties.

What we need is an easy-to-learn language of intellectual thought, which is understood worldwide. It needs to feel organic, but must not have ties to any one group. It needs to be simple enough for anyone to use it, yet able to express thoughts that are entirely unimaginable now. Some have created such lingua francas in the past. In 1887, Dr. L. L. Zamenhof created Esperanto, the most widely-spoken constructed language in the world. It is an easy-to-learn, fully-developed language, and is not specific to any individual group of people. Unfortunately, the two-million-speaker Esperanto movement has seen limited success. If we want globalization of communication, we need a global effort.

A more perfect global society, whatever that may entail, is within the realm of possibility. Improving life for every resident of this planet through advances in science and philosophy is within the realm of possibility. Such advances can not be achieved by a fractured society such as ours, and the first step towards a unified global community is unity in language. We must redraw the maps, and erase the artificial lines of language. With the ability to share every idea, every worldview and every perspective on every issue, humanity could not help but thrive.


"A Global Perspective on Bilingualism and Bilingual Education" Center for Applied Linguistics. Tucker, R. G.. 3 Nov 2013. Web.<>.

"Across Cultures, English is the Word" The New York Times. Mydans, S. n.d. 3 Nov 2013. Web. <> 

"Esperanto Is..." Esperanto USA. Limako. 3 Nov 2013. Web <>

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Where it All Started

Ilker Erkut

Creative Story

It started with a man, who spoke like everyone else.  Just kidding, he was the only person to live at the time.  His name was Monkemon.  He was not all human but had some animal in him.  What is the animal!?  It was a monkey.  He was what the people from my time called a caveman.  Before he was born, he lived in his egg which was under a banana tree.  It has not grown any bananas in centuries.  But one day a banana grew bigger and bigger, until it fell off the tree into a banana shaped cup.  The banana fit perfectly, just like when a basketball goes into the net without hitting the rim.  His egg slowly started cracking and... BOOM.  Monkemon jumped out of the egg and the sun rose and everything sparkled.  Next thing, the banana tree grew tons of banana’s and everything around him became full of life.  He searched long and hard for any other life form.  Later on he found a monkey; a girl monkey laying under a banana tree on the other side of the land.  Never in his life has he ever seen one, till now.  He could understand her and he felt comfortable with her.  They went on countless adventures till, one night they had been through a lot, and they were really tired.  The next morning they woke up together and did not say much but, they were not sure what happened that night .  

Later on in their adventures the monkey made offspring.  There were two babies,  that both spoke differently.  

“Uh Uh-Ah Ah” said the more monkey looking baby.

“Googoo Gaagaa” said the more human looking baby.

And thats when their imagination went wild and they started experimenting.  They guessed that since Monkemon is a “caveman” he gave one baby more human features and traits, while the girl monkey gave the other baby monkey features .  

They were intrigued by the idea of differences in their babies.  They settled on the fact that there were no more life forms, so they started making more and more babies.  After about a year of producing, they stopped.  They had about 400 children.  They had some older than others and some could understand better than others.  After a certain point they let them go on and adventure so that their kids could have a similar life as they did and produce to make new kinds of life.  One of our children are fortunate enough to find what we call now a “fish”  He was the only child out of them all 400 that found a new species and produced.  After years of producing and experiencing they finally had a full community of many different looking and speaking creatures.  It almost was a burden.  No one could really understand anyone.  You had some people talking like…

“Helluhuh-Ahah” said the monkey/humans.

“Hello” said the humans.

“Hello” the fish humans said very low.

Fish do not really talk, they communicate with each other differently, so when you have a fish and a human, then it is what we call a shy human.  

Everyone became friends with the people that they could understand.  They started living in different parts of the world with the people that they could communicate with and thats when the world started developing.  Hundreds of years later I was born.  My name is Moose.  I am just revealing my ancestors life story; as you can see I have a pretty big family.  But I had to tell you all of this so that I could reveal the big secret.  I AM THE MONK OF MY FAMILY.  I was given the power to understand every language, accent and noise coming out of a living thing.   Wherever I go I can understand everyone and can change the way I speak to match theirs.  I am not sure how this came to be.  I feel as though my people that each had different accents in their past, which made it diverse because they both understood completely different languages, which give me this power.  I walk around and see people being made fun of or reprimanded for not speaking right.  But honestly I think that people who hear a new language or different accent, are making fun of them so that they can add more people to their way of speaking.  Its like negative motivation.  They do not care for them but they are adding more to their “army” and have more people to carry on the language and extinguish the other languages.  But that will not happen with me around or anyone like me in the world.  I cannot travel like my ancestors used to, because we need money to travel rather than just walk and explore.  I have not been able to explore and carry on my parents legacy.  I have decided to stop what I am doing because  being a 26 year old man, I have a long life ahead of me.

Next thing I know I am on a flight to Asia.  I started from right and I am making my way left on the global map.  I can figure out people like me because they will speak to me similarly but with an aspect of an animal.  I finally get to Russia and start my search with nothing else in mind.  I go from country to country and have not found anything NEW or UNIQUE.  Then that gave me a thought, maybe I was the last of my kind and the exploring ended with me.  I had all the accents and languages so that it would cut out all the traveling.  As much I want to believe that is not true, that is the only logical explanation.  As soon as I catch the plain to go back to Greenland I meet someone that is very shy and has weird movements when not talking.  I instantly knew that, that was one of family descendents.  He had very fish-like speaking.  After meeting him on the plain and discussing each others opinions on our parents expectations I reflected on the day.  I had the craziest idea that people that speak differently might have animal features in them.  When I say that the man I met today was like a fish, I meant it as what my parents called them hundred and thousands of years ago.  He is not actually like a fish, but it made sense.  Some animals interact differently.  Some are more high temperament just like people with high temperament.  It was pretty adventurous thought that I did not want to get into.  I have found yet another member of my family and can travel the world with him, to continue our future .  We went back to Greenland...

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Suffering in Silence

Speech impediments affect millions of people worldwide. Over three million people stutter in America alone. Speech impediments can be caused by a variety of things, the two most common reasons are developmental and neurogenic. Often times people who have an impediment to go speech therapy to try and overcome their stutter. People with a speech impediments often have less power in a system because of  the unwillingness of others to listen.

John Stossel, a co-anchor on 20/20, had a major speech impediment. He stuttered. As a child and even early in his broadcasting career John had to face the daily challenges of his speech impediment. In an interview with Stossel he says, “Fear of stuttering can easily become worse than the stuttering itself…”  Many with a stutter have a fear of being rejected because of their stammer, rather than their actual impediment. This silences countless stutters. This silence gives them less power in a system compared to someone free of a speech impediment. Whether the system be where that person works, learns, or lives. These people can often be eclipsed by the shadow of their stutter. Stuttering can affect anybody at any age, though it commonly begins in childhood, it can also happen after a serious brain injury like a stroke. Stossel also talked briefly on what is was like growing up with a stutter, “I remember terror in the classroom...” This is a common fear, the terror that his listeners, or peers, would not listen to what he has to say but instead make fun of him for how he said it.

This is a problem that people who stutter, face daily. To try and help cope with their impediment, many go to speech therapy in hopes to help their stutter. With dedication and practice many people are able to overcome their impediment. People like Marilyn Monroe, James Earl Jones, and even Emily Blunt and King George IV, have all stuttered. The Stuttering Foundation did a small biography on Marilyn’s impediment, it was said,  “A speech therapist taught her how deliberate breathing prior to speaking could guide her to fluency.” Though in times of stress towards the end of her career the impediment became noticeable, look at how iconic she became. She worked so that her impediment wouldn’t control her, and this gave her the iconic and airy Marilyn voice.Speech therapy will not automatically cure a persons impediment, or turn them into famous actors, but with dedication a stutter could become less noticeable.

Thanks to the movie “Kings Speech” many have gotten a glimpse of what it is like living with a stutter. The film follows the story of King George IV overcoming his impediment while trying to rule a country. Though it is one thing to watch it in a movie and another to live it daily, this movie has shined a light on speech impediments like no other movie has. Wheeler-Bennet, the King’s biographer wrote, “..failures of previous specialists to affect a cure had begun to breed within him the inconsolable despair of the chronic stammerer and the secret dread that the hidden root of the affliction lay in the mind rather than the body.” So many people carry this secret dread of their stammer, even if they aren’t required to make war speeches in front of an empire. The feeling of not being taken seriously is often a bigger obstacle than the stutter itself. This makes us notice how someone without a stutter might look at those who do. In several points in the film mainly when Bertie, the future king, would make a public address did I notice the listener’s reactions. In the beginning of his speech many would look on eager to hear what he had to say. His first few stammers people would being to wince in embarrassment for him, before eventually looking away. In that situation the listener tried to distance themselves from the speaker as much as they possibly could. They did this by looking away, staring off into space, or twiddling their thumbs. Bertie's message was lost due to his stammer and people’s lack of patience.

While researching, trying to find how people react to a stutter I decided to see what google had to say. In a google search phrase, “Are people who stutter” google auto filled in the statement with the following : smarter, stupid, shy nervous, intelligent.  The first subject that was read was the shy nervous option which eventually lead to the National Stuttering Association’s common myths page. The association dismissed many myths such as “People stutter because they are shy and self conscious,” and  “Stuttering is a mental disorder.” The list goes on ranging from poor parenting to a lack of intelligence.  Another source that was found was the publics opinion on stuttering, most of the studies showed that the public thought those who stutter are shy and and often nervous.  It was also said that, “Considerably more children who stutter were bully victims than were children who do not stutter.” I wasn’t surprised by this, it is terribly cruel thing  to do to someone, especially a child. Children often have a short attention span, so not having enough patience and a lack of understanding can lead to bullying. This only makes it harder for someone to stutter have their voice be heard.

Recent media has shined a light on stuttering because of this we now have a better idea of what it is like living with a speech impediment. Many famous people like Marilyn Monroe and King George IV have stuttered, but with serious therapy, time, and dedication they have overcome their impediment and let their voices be heard. Many studies have been done to show that though stuttering is not caused by shyness or nervousness, it can be caused by emotional traumas. People who do stammer are no less intelligent, than someone who doesn’t. People with a speech impediments often have less power in a system because of  the unwillingness of others to listen.

Work Cited

Emily Aten, . N.p.. Web. 29 Oct 2013. <>.

. N.p.. Web. 29 Oct 2013. <’t-silence-his-story-2020’s-john-stossel-inspires-others>.

. N.p.. Web. 29 Oct 2013. <’t-silence-his-story-2020’s-john-stossel-inspires-others>.

National Institute of Deafness, A. C. D.. N.p.. Web. 29 Oct 2013. <;.>

Center for stuttering therapy, . N.p.. Web. 31 Oct 2013. <>.

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Outcasted from the Beginning

Well, I guess you could call me crazy, I mean that’s how Italian New Yorker’s are perceived right? Dumb because they don’t speak right like others. There was a particular time when I felt this, being dumb for the way I talk. Being a teenager ain’t easy, especially when you “different.”

“Oh c’mon Michael, we don’ wanna be late.”

“Ma, you know I don’ wanna leave. One minute, we’ve gots time. Don’ gotta be dere til six anyway. It only five.”

She really had to make the flight at eight a.m.? Airports are stupid, gotta be there hours before yo flight. I could use that time hangin’ with mah friends, havin’ a good time. Not travelin’ seven hours to somewhere stupid where I know nobody.

“Do I gotta go? Boardin’ school is fo preps. I could live alone, I practically do. You never home, I always gotta feed mahself and shit.”

“You stuck with me boy, yo father’s dead. Where you gon’ go?”

Gettin’ off that plane never felt better, everythin’ was beautiful in Liverpool, but not the kids. Oh God, not the kids, they got to be some of the ugliest kids in the world.

The following Monday after we arrived, my Ma started her new job, and I started at a new school, King’s Bruton. All my luggage was put in a dorm (well here they call it quarters), and I was forced to have the bottom bunk by the door. Perks of being the new kid. In the afternoon, I started my classes. Great.

“Hey, erm, excuse me? Where’s class two fawty two?” I said to a kid, who looked like he was in 11th grade.

“Huh? That’s not a class. Sorry.”

“Oh, well you know where three fawty five is then?”

“I don’t know what ya sayin’, I’m lost. Try aaa-nun-c-eee-ate-ing better.”
All day it went like this. I was late by at least ten minutes ‘cause nobody in this school can understand simple English. I speak perfectly good, and it’s as if I speak a differen’ language. After classes, I jogged to my dorm to go call my Ma.

“Ma, the people here are dumb. Don’ know standard English.”

“Why’s dat my dear? ”

“Just some kids and teachers in the school don’ like how I speak. (speaks in a Liverpudlian accent)’I’m not torkin’ right.’ I’m not, “Ayyo, mate, what’s appenin’?’”

“Don’ worry about them, it’s only the first day. In a months time, things won’ seem as bad as they are right now. By the way, shouldn’ you be busy?”

“Ard, Ma. Talk to ya later.”

Two weeks and still no friends. Wow, what am I doin’ wrong? I should be the class clown, somebody fun, not no picked on loser. Thas for the wimps. Some 12th grader I never known, came up to me.

“Ayy mate, why don’t ya go back to New Yark? You not one of us, kid. You tork weird, and you just don’t belong.”

The same thing over and over. Mah speech is wrong? Their speech is wrong, I’m the only speakin’ right, they the one’s who say, “talk,” as “tork.” That day after school I went to my dorm with a swollen black eye. After the 12th grader talked to me, all his buddies came around and started throwin’ punches, and kickin’. I could feel the hate with each blow. The leaders of the dorms don’ seem to care, and nothin’ ain’t right here. My Ma was wrong. I’m the loser of this school ‘cause of dis damn accent.

“Is Michael Visss...innie here?” Said our English teacher on the first full month of school.

Out of her ignorance I said, “Nope. Michael Vicinni does happen to be here doe.”

“No need for smart-asses, ya wanker.” Said the kid sittin’ behind my.

“It’s a month inna school, boardin’ school, people shoulda know my name by now.”

“You warkin around like you own something,” said a classmate. “You oughtta get webbed with your attitude, nobody wants to be friends with a nob.”

After that I lost it. I couldn’ fight, I jus ran out, like a wimp cryin’. I lost all respect in myself. I wanted home. I needed my Ma, I needed friends who spoke like me. I’m usually the class clown, the one the girls like. Now imma no good, “wanker.” That afternoon I jus’ went to mah quarters, and called my Ma...Only to realize she’s busy and has no time for me. Great.

I walked into the mess hall to get some dinner, as usual I sat by myself. Halfway through when I was eating my dessert a girl come over, and might I add she was quite attractive, got goosebumps and everythin’.

“Erm ello, Michael is it?”

“Uhh, hi.”

“Sorry to bother you, I just noticed nobody eva sits wit you.”

“Yeah, don’ have no friends.”

“I’ll be your friend and help you wit your accent if you’d like. I noticed you get teased quite a bit.”

“That’d be uhh well, thanks uhh...”

“Ali, I’m in yer grade.”

“Thanks, Ali.”

That day was a turning point. Everyday Ali and I would sit under the Weeping Willow tree by the main entrance in front the school after three p.m. I helped her with math, and she helped me with my speech. She was beautiful, enticin’, long wavy blond hair with slight streaks, a perfect smile, with slightly blushed cheeks. She was practically an angel, and made me feel like nothin’ could go wrong. Mike and Ali, Mike and Ali, Mike and A...


This burly boy in my grade came around to me, with his group of friends. Ali was in the back of the group just watchin’, with a smile on her face. To think I could have friends here, to think somebody might like me, how stupid. 

“We’ve told you, you aren’t anythin’.” *Another smack across the cheek* “When you tork, you tork weird, it’s not right. Go back where you belong.”

The thought of Ali and I together was interrupted by punches, left and right, across the cheek, in the nose, in the eye, and more stupid comments about my accent. That was it.

“I’m not takin’ yo crap anymore. You ignant, imma be me. I may damn well, speak as I want.”

Before I knew it, I threw a punch at the main, burly boy’s face. It connected to his jaw, and my knuckles were scraped up by his teeth. The only thing I remember after that was sittin’ outside the principal's office. I was all alone though, no other boys, or Ali. My body was shakin’ and couldn’ sit still. I hated this place, why was I nervous about what the frickin’ principle thought? All that was said was me tellin’ my Ma I was expelled. Nobody else, just me. Great. 

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Hold Your Tongue

I wish I had yelled at those men. I wish I had slapped them across their pretty faces and told them my name. And my mother’s name. The number of my apartment. I wish I had tore holes in their silk jackets and made them look through the cracks and see the world through my eyes. I wish I had ripped out their Burish tongues and nailed them to the wall and said “This is what it means to free.”

+ + +

It was Friday. The fluorescent light above the check out counter flickered. Two young men, one in a blue silk suit and the other in a grey silk suit, laughed as they threw a case of beer on conveyor belt.

“Is that all, sir?” I asked.

“Oh yeah baby,” the man in the blue silk suit said, his Tary accent brusque and unpracticed. He winked.

“That ugly bitch thinks you like her,” his friend said, laughing. I scanned the beer and handed it to the bagger, Marc, my face reddening.

“What’s wrong?” Marc whispered. The man in the grey suit noticed us talking and trotted over to Marc, smiling.

“Hey fatass. I bet your dad was a whale who fucked an elephant who farted out you piece of shit.” The man smiled at Marc and handed me a ten dollar bill. I handed the man in the blue suit his receipt and his change, carefully hiding my anger.

“I hope you have a nice day sir!” Marc said cheerily. The men laughed and left the store, the door jingling as they left. “I don’t see what your problem was Mae. Of course, I didn’t know what they were saying, but I’m sure it was all in good spirits. They wouldn’t have been talking about us. Young Burish men like them have much more interesting things to laugh about than a cashier and a grocery bagger.” I nodded.

And held my tongue.

+ + +

“Are you getting off here?” I shook my head. “Well, I guess I’ll you see you tomorrow then.” Marc shuffled out of the subway car, quickly lost in a sea of polo shirts and khakis.

I turned back to the window, and watched the underground walls. There was graffiti everywhere, mostly in Tary, though occasionally brightly painted phrases in Burish. When I was in school, I knew kids who snuck into these tunnels and smoked and painted and said all the things they couldn’t say. I wondered what would have happened if they had met a Burish kid. I wondered why that Burish kid had anything to say that he could only share with the darkness.

I got off at the end of the line. The station was empty, except for one old vending machine. “No one down here is free” was sloppily graffitied in big Tary letters across the machine’s frosted glass front. As I got closer, I noticed someone had written a response to the Tary graffiti in neat blue Burish letters underneath. I waited in front of the vending machine until the subway had left. When the tunnel was silent, I pulled my pen out of my ponytail and wrote the Burish phrase on my forearm, careful to get every letter correct.

It was 9 o’clock, and outside the crumbling Tary neighborhood was falling asleep. It had once been one of the most lively and diverse areas in the city. But those days were long gone. Now, depressing and dilapidated, it was the perfect place for rebel groups to hide. Revolutionaries hid amongst the abandoned art galleries and empty cafés. The police never bothered to make rounds this far out, and the street lights had stopped working years back. Under the cover of darkness, rebel organizations built their strength and intelligence, preparing for the day when they will restore equality.

I walked the five blocks quickly and quietly, blending in with the shadows. I stopped in front of a narrow gated alley way. I slipped inside, closing the gate quietly behind me. It was even darker there, but I was used to it now. Eight steps forward, first door on the right. Knock. They will see you, and if they know you, they will let you in.

“Ah, Mae, late as usual,” Evelyn smiled and greeted me with a hug. Her Tary was perfect. Evelyn’s husband, Philip, greeted me with a nod. Philip and Evelyn had been young, rebellious fools. Philip had suffered the consequences, and no longer had a tongue. Now, they were old, cautious rebels. And they were teaching us Burish.

The classroom was in an old bakery that used to sell gourmet cupcakes. There was a circle of old pink metal chairs in the center of the room. In each seat there was a familiar face; a tired face. Each one of us had stumbled upon Evelyn and Philip one way or another, and now each of us was as invested as the next in being a part of the revolution.

I sat in the last empty seat next to Evelyn, and the class began.

“Good evening ladies and gentlemen,” Evelyn said in Burish. We echoed. “In today’s meeting,” she continued in Burish, “we will learn how to talk to police officers and federal officials, especially in an issue of arrest.”

We immersed ourselves in the language. We took on Burish names, like Elizabeth and Maxwell and Isabella and Anthony. We wore stolen neckties and moldy faux-fur coats. Our Tary and our Burish intertwined together. Our exhaustion turned to excitement. It felt like we were building something. It felt right. We found security in our own fantasies. We shared our dreams with one another like graffitied rebels shared their words with the walls. We thought, unlike the underground artists, that one day we would be something.

+ + +

There was a knock. And the door was in splinters on the floor.

“Put the books down fuckheads. You are all under arrest. You must remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you. Come to think of it, it already has.” Both policemen chuckled.

The classroom was silent. The man next to me, Jack, looked one policeman straight in the eye and said, in perfect Burish, “What seems to be the problem sir?”

The room turned to chaos. The blood of Burish officers and Tary rebels intertwined. I attempted to punch the officer closest to me, but he deftly grabbed my wrist and twisted it until he heard a crack. Pain shot down my arm. I screamed.

Ugly bitch!” I yelled in Burish.

“So that’s what they’ve been teaching you, huh?” He slapped me across the face, hard, and dragged me out the door by my limp wrist. My jacket sleeve fell down to my elbow.

“What does that say on your arm girl?” He stopped in front of a small chrome cop car. The damp night air shimmered around me. “Freedom is overrated, it says. Damn straight girl. Damn straight.”

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The Power of Words in a Time of War

Language plays a powerful role in Markus Zusak's The Book Thief. Although the book has many strong themes, one of the strongest is how words and language give a lot of power. This is demonstrated not only in the way that the characters interact with language, but also because of Zusak's talent in manipulating words to tell a beautiful and complex story. Zusak portrait a time language is used by a tyrant but individuals find a way to use words to bring hope and healing. Luckily for readers he uses this talent for good, but his book shows how this gift can also be used for evil.

Before we dive too deep into the good and evil that lies within the pages on this book, and within our own world, we should know how this book plays out. The Book Thief is set in Nazi Germany throughout World War II. One of the most notable things is that this book is narrated by Death. The actual book thief turns out to be a young girl by the name of Liesel Meminger. She lives in a small town outside of Munich with her foster parents, Hans and Rosa Hubermann. Eventually a Jewish man comes and lives in their basement in order to escape the world of war going on around him.

Liesel first finds the power of words when she herself learns to read. Her foster father, Hans, teaches her. This not only brings the two of them closer together, but gives the girl a power she never knew existed before: knowledge.  Her foster father teaches her to feel the joys of learning. He introduces her to the powerful system of words.This first helps her to succeed in school. She was being unfairly punished because she had not had any education before coming to live with her foster parents.

Secondly, she was given the power to steal. Even though thievery is wrong and illegal, for Liesel Meminger it was empowering. She was addicted to the the words that she had learned to read, and she needed more. Stealing books also gave her a feeling of control over her life. She had something that she was good at, something that helped her and something that no one else did. When a Jewish man by the name of Max Vandenberg came to lived in their basement to escape the Nazis, Liesel became very close with him. They first connected over books, more specifically books that had been stolen.

Because the characters are struggling through a war, the threat of violence and bombs are alway looming over them. Whenever the bomb warning is in effect Rosa, Hans, and Liesel have to go to their neighbors cellar which doubles as a bomb shelter. Being in the shelter is tense and scary. Liesels decides to help everyone feel more relaxed by reading to them. Here Zusak describes her first time reading in the cellar. “By page three, everyone was silent but Liesel. She didn’t dare to look up, but she could feel their frightened eyes hanging on to her as she hauled the words in and breathed them out.” (Zusak 381) Liesel took power in that basement full of weak people fearing their lives, and she used her power to give them strength and hope. The system of words Liesel used was the same system that any other individual had, but she knew how to use them in order to give some good. Liesel was proactive about using the system of words and power that came along with those words, to not only to help herself, but to help all the other frightened individuals cluttered in a cellar. This however is not the last time Liesel shared the power she finds in language with others.  

One of the places that Liesel steals books from is the the library of the mayor's wife, Ilsa Hermann. When Frau Hermann eventually catches Liesel, instead of punishing her, she encourages Liesel to read and they soon became friends. The mayor’s wife also introduces Liesel to writing. The thought of being able to use your words as well as the words, as well as the words of others, for power is a new idea to her, but Liesel Meminger realizes its value quickly. She then starts to write her own story, which is so compelling that Death picks it up one day, and has never let it go. There must be some true power in the words in those pages if it is that appealing and meaningful to Death.

It is impossible to write of language and power in that era without addressing Adolf Hitler. Max talks a lot about Hitler, which is understandable because of how much Hitler has affected Max’s life. Throughout the book Max writes two books for Liesel, the second one is called The Word Shaker. Even though the book MAx wrote is largely about the friendship Liesel and Max have, it also talks a lot about Hitler and how he took power using words.The third paragraph in Max’s story starts, “The Führer decides to rule the world with words.” (Zusak 445) Hitler is a perfect example of someone who knows just how much power words have hidden within them. He used words to rally people against each other and create war. The words had spoke moved people to do unthinkable things. The words of the Führer brought the whole world to war, for the second time.The simplest way of putting it is that Hitler used the power of words for evil. It is sometimes hard to grasp how influence he with only words as his primary weapon.

We need to take a step back sometimes and review how we use language, It can be  easy to forget all the power that we own from the words that we use every day. In the end it all boils down to this, use your words to help and give hope to those around you. Do all the good you can and try to extinguish the evil.

Works Cited:

Zusak, Markus. The Book Thief. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2006. Print.
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Jargon and Tongues

Soledad Alfaro

When in conversation one tends to select a dialect, a rhythm, even a tone of talking depending on the relationship with whom you are conversing. The words that are selected from the back of the mind and pushed out through the mouth carry an empathetic consciousness based on the prior knowledge and experiences of both people. Therefore, it forms the outcomes of our discussions with one another. For example a conversation between two lawyers who handle criminal justice cases would include terms such as “abate” or “abstention doctrine”, when speaking of conflicts within the courtroom or their law offices. They are comfortable with the language in the scenario because they both are aware of the terms, and come from  similar backgrounds which merge together through their profession. This may be unlike the conversation between an E.R. doctor, and a police officer on patrol. If the doctor chooses to use advanced terms to describe the diagnosis of a patient to our officer, it is more than likely that he will ask for clarification for the unfamiliar terms. This is because these words will sound foreign to him based on the inferences we can make of his prior knowledge. The officer and the E.R. doctor would not have an advanced medical conversation, or one about the systems or vows of a police officer, because they have been educated in different ways and do not understand all of the details inside the languages of these different professions and environments. The name for these terms is called Jargon. Jargon is displayed in every situation that we are in, in terms of conversation. There can be many different variables that affect the type of language we use and all are sub situations of jargon. Such as the slang we use based on the cities that we are from, or the distinguishing of different classes and the concept of code switching. Jargon is the foundation of familiarity in language. It is how we find comfort in our conversations with others, and establish common ground in one’s culture.

Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love, is one not only known for its historical landmarks such as the Liberty Bell and Benjamin Franklin’s burial site, but also its borderline foreign use of slang applied in informal conversations between locals. In different parts of the city one can open their ears and listen to colorful conversations that are  sources of coded language which can only be translated by a Philadelphian. For a New Yorker or someone from Kansas this is an unclear vernacular, that is only understood by those who have familiarized themselves with it. It is a jargon among the people of its city. The word “Jawn” is a prime example of the Philadelphian tongue. “ Jawn can mean anything. Person place or thing. Sometimes if we are telling a story, and we don’t want people to know what we are talking about we’ll plug in jawn for everything. The other day I was at the jawn...not knowing I had that jawn on me.” (MK Asante, Buck pg. 4)  When the writer uses “I was at the jawn” to describe a place, and then follows with “not knowing I had that jawn on me” to describe a thing. The only way one could distinguish the two would be for them to already have a preconceived understanding of the Philadelphia jargon and the word “jawn

When the subject of slang comes up as a form of terminology it is often deemed one of uneducated people. However there is a sense of comfort in broken language that rolls off of slurred tongues and sounds like home to many. We hear it in the music of different cultures. How country delivers these sort of simple abbreviations of “yall” or “fixin” and then in music like rap we hear words of a similar cadence. One could also say that it is a clear observation that the music people listen to, also corresponds with the language of its audience, in order for it to be received as relatable to its listeners. Many times the particular dialect can have a major affect on the different classes that we have in America and how we infer who is of which class. Native Son by Richard Wright, shows us a clear dynamic of racism in relation to classism in the 50’s. It talks about a boy who is trying to accept his class and his current position in life.  “Goddamnit, look! We live here and they live there. We black and they white. They got things and we ain't. They do things and we can't. It's just like livin' in jail.” (Native son by Richard Wright) In this quote you don’t only see the clear frustration of the character but you also notice his dialect. It is one that rules him to be inferior to those above him, which specifically in this era would be white people, but he is also comfortable speaking the way he does in this quote. You can hear the sense of familiarity that comes along with the person of whom he is speaking to. One would guess that it would be a friend or a family member someone who already knew him well enough to understand his anger and the way he talks.

Language is the backbone of communication between humans. It is how we receive all types of messages whether they are met to be formal, informal or personal. When we are addressing these different social situation there is a manipulation that we take on with our tongues. We insert these codes in language in order to get across certain points and drive these ideas into the minds of others solely using words. This is why we have uses in language  such as slang, which simplify words to make them more understandable. Some of the most valued people in our society were manipulators of language. People who were poets and writers, who could take words and give them a whole new meaning through this manipulation was translated into these roots we call “slang”. In African American communities it can be considered a call to home. The slurred words that were caught between confused lips when slaves were first brought to America had to be relaxed somehow in such a hard language. In that there were abbreviations of sounds that weren’t there before in order to hold a sturdy tongue in front of the masters. Saul Williams, is one of those masters of manipulating language. He is a poet who is famous for his depth in the routes of our history and how we communicate through tools such as jargon. “Whereas the Quanti drum has allowed the whirling mathematicians to calculate the the everchanging distance between rock and stardom”. (Saul williams, Coded language) This quote is from a poem performed at Def Poetry Jam. Williams  is talking about how we use language to analyze and to better understand the systems of the world. Hence the comparison of the Quanti drum which is a drum that originates in Africa to the logic of the mathematician. It is a series of questions and answers that are spoken in different tongues but all in the same language.

We hold onto what we know like crutches. Pushing words through the spaces of our teeth trying to find balance between what is familiar and what is foreign. Coming to grips with the fact that we all speak in unfamiliar tones based on the home in our voices. Every sentence has a rhythm every word one thousand meanings to it based on the type of pronunciation. Jargon, is how we remember where we are and where we came from, because it sticks in our minds our jobs and our lives. It is how we communicate and it is how we will always understand one another.

Works Cited:

Wright, Richard. Native Son,. New York: Harper & Bros., 1940. Print.

Asante, Molefi K. Buck: A Memoir. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.

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