Boys and Girls Ultimate: State Championships
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The purpose of this project was to inform us on the idea that we all speak a language but it may show certain things about our identity. Throughout this process we’ve have talked of ways that we have language identity in our city’s, family’s, and home’s. Our assignment was to connect the language we use in our every day lives to create scenes for a larger idea, thus making our Language Auto Biography. When I wrote this the hardest part was connecting this to a larger idea but I think I’ve solved this when I made my draft.
Language Auto Biography:
I waited at the door to our hotel room with the fresh smell of groceries in my hands. I was listening and enjoying my family on a hot august day. I watched and learned a ton of language in the south. Coming from Philadelphia on they way here traveling through the states like Maryland and North Carolina the rest stop filled with strangers. At McDonald's in Virginia I found my self in the sea of dialects and accents. During the ride we enjoyed each other’s company while we talked watch and laughed the whole ride there. During vacation I notice change in voice almost if I’ve changed who I was.I rolled the red luggage cart into room 220 along with the groceries we’d bought from the store. Fighting through all the hugs, kisses, and handshakes of my cousins’ aunts and uncles. Unloading the cart in relief we were finally here it was officially summer for me and I couldn’t wait to get on the beach. My aunt called me in to the well-lit kitchen.
Strolling in the room while she held up a card, she gave me a look and reported. “Now this is your room card don’t lose it Rog or your butt is mine!” Now coming from the high raised eyebrow on her forehead I could tell she meant business. She quick asked “are you sure you can take care of this card cause we won’t get another.” I grab it quick trying to run out the room, I herd her yell from out the side of my ear. “Yall better not loose it!” Some of her accent show for minute as a walked away she changed who she was to get her point across
While I’ve noticed this from my aunt many times, I’ve also notice how she would act in her profession. Overhearing a conversation of her while she called back to her job in Pittsburgh. She seemed to present herself using Standard English which could mislead people. While everyone has an accent, but we all try to relate to people using Standard English. Why is this? Maybe we have indicated that a structured language is a language of power and we can use it to get people to understand, listen, and comprehend in the real world.
Not saying that the accents can be misunderstood, but I’m stating that we use Standard English to get our points across and to get our thoughts heard. Power is power and we need this survive our everyday jobs and lives in the business world. In a article written by James Baldwin If Black English Isn’t a Language, Then Tell Me, What Is? (1979). Baldwin stated about the language equaling power, “...and connects one with, or divorces one from, the larger, public, or communal identity”. The way my aunt change her accent to relate to a client she really shows that the modern world takes advantage this language in thought that they can control people. I wondered what her client would think if she had talked with her Pittsburgh/ southern dialect would the call be totally different deal.
That summer when I noticed she wasn’t talking like my mom, her own sister, I started to understand she had some sort of dialect came in her voice. It seemed so foreign even though she was my aunt, she lives in Pittsburgh and me, in Philadelphia:; How could 5 hour distance have such a impact on the way a person talks? Seeing that this is true I can also talk to my grandmother, who is currently living in Georgia and when she arrived to our room she greeted us on as she could “So how y’all doin?”
Being with me grandmother is always like I’m meeting her for the first time not only because of the distance we live away from each other also by her accent. When I usually hear a southern accent at first glance I start thoughts of farms and a rural hot area where the people aren’t well educated, James Baldwin’s theory, of Black English evolving in the south during slavery, show how the accents of many came about. He stated that during the trip here, the whole culture of African Americans was taken away along with their languages. So using the English that they have come quick to learn during there time in slavery they would soon that structured dialect, that almost every white person in the south knew, into Black English; Something that the slave owners couldn’t understand until later after. My grandmother talked more of the English version of that but it still occurred to me that’s where her accent originated.
Our Language Identity we can find in our homes throughout our many lines of family but it always finds it’s way back to us when we get lost in the professional world. In the powerful world of jobs and professions we struggle with holding our true language identity because we some dialects are frowned upon in the eyes of power so we learn to talk the same. When we really dig deep enough i think we can really find our true language identity, but only if we take breaks from our jobs and just spend time to interact with the people around you.
Rose, Mike . I Just Want To Be Average. Print.
We have been talking about language in English class and it opened up my eyes to what language really is. I never realized what exactly language is, all i though it was is something people speak, like French, Spanish, or English. Maybe people don’t realize that. In society people are all different and I never really thought about that until I wrote this paper about language. It was an assignment for my english class so before all I thought it was just like what language a person speaks but as I thought more into it I realized the real meaning of language. Language is identity and that is what my paper is about. It’s your identity because it describes who you are. Everyone is different and that includes their language. Most people don’t realize that though.
I had an easy time writing my scenes because I knew what happened so I was just retelling my story about that and it just flowed together easily. I think that might be the strongest part of my paper because I explained the details and feeling in that moment in time. I struggled with my analysis of my scenes though because I always have trouble with that and I never feel like it’s good enough. I revise my analysis parts of my paper a lot so that I can have it to the best possible.
Language is more than just words that someone says. It’s as much of a person’s identity as is their name is. It’s identity because it’s something special about you and it’s important because no body want to be friends with a copy of everyone else in the world. No two people in the world talk the exact same way and that’s because everyone has something different about their language. A person could speak a foreign language, they could have code names that only their friends and them know of, they could use slang or Standard English, or in my case, have a lisp. Sometimes those differences make people judgmental and feel like they need to change someone because it’s not society’s definition of “normal.”
I have experienced what that judgment feels like and it’s horrible. Language is identity and when someone tries to change that it makes you feel like you are not good enough. I was in speech therapy all the way from first grade to eighth and I hated it. I went two days a week and each of those days I remember begging my mom to let me stay home even though I knew it was no use and each time I was called out of class to go I would turn and red as a tomato, put my head down as I stood up and hurry out of the classroom as fast as possible, hoping that nobody would notice me.
In seventh grade my friend, Misty, and I were both in the middle of a dull history class and the phone rang. As our teacher walked to the phone my mind was swarmed with thoughts, “Hopefully it’ll be someone going home early! Or maybe it’ll be my mom calling to pick me up early because she knew how badly I hated speech! Or or or maybe it’s a call from the speech teacher saying we don’t have to go today because she has a meeting!” I was torn out of my hopeful thoughts with the history teacher saying “Rosie and Misty! Time to go!” Once I heard that I did my usual routine, turn red, duck, and run out of the classroom. My history class was on the third floor and the therapist’s office was on the second floor. As I walked down to the second floor each step made me feel more embarrassed. When I got into her room my first thoughts were “Yay back to prison.” Her office was the size if a supply closet, instead of a door it had one of those gates you see at malls when it’s time for all the stores to close, a table and cabinet was all that could fit into the room and all that was left in there was a tiny clock that I would never take my eyes off of.
Misty and I sat down at the table with the therapist, Mrs. G. She asked us about our weekend and we answered but that wasn’t good enough for her so she started rolling her eyes and saying, “Tongue behind your teeth when you say something with a S in it, Rosie. And Misty remember why you’re here.” Then made us repeat what we said until it was perfect. Each time I would fight back my tears and the urge to tell her that I wasn’t perfect and just because I have a lisp doesn’t mean I needed to be treated like a baby. I knew I couldn’t cry though because I would be judged and I couldn’t talk back without getting in trouble so I just had to grin and bare it. Every time after speech Misty and I would talk about how we felt like we were monkeys trapped in a cage called school for everyone to watch and laugh at.
I was able to handle being made fun of about the way I talk, but when my little brother came to my school for first grade, he also had a lisp. I was afraid that kids would be as mean to him as they were to me but his friends weren’t mean to him about it at all. They didn’t notice anything about it and to then he was a normal kid, they played games and had fun and didn’t worry about anything, but to my friends he was “retarded. ” One day when I was in seventh grade and he was in first, a boy in my science class told me these words, “Your brother talks so funny, he’s retarded.” My response was “Shut up!” and I ran off to the bathroom balling my eyes out.
That’s what made me realize that language is identity because when you talk differently people will create their own character for yourself even if you look at yourself differently then that. All throughout first to eight grade I didn’t know what confidences was because I was always afraid since I didn’t talk how society wanted nobody would like me. I was really shy and had only a few friends. When I finally graduated and came to SLA I realized that language couldn’t be forced upon somebody. You can’t control a person because when you do try to you might create more problems, at least in my case and also Misty’s that’s what happened. I am happy with myself and I like my lisp, it’s something that makes me different then everyone else and it’s part of whom I am.
What people who make judgments need to remember though is a quote from an essay called I Just Want to be Average by Mike Rose. It says, “The charade was over, and when it came down to it, I don’t think any of the kids really wanted it to end up this way.” I wish I could have had the guts to tell people something like what that quote says when I was bullied and judged for talking funny. It describes what was going on with me because I wasn’t pretending to be someone whom I wasn’t; I wasn’t putting up a charade. People don’t think about how their words affect others and so I was the misfit for nothing that I could control. It really opened my eyes to know people are because they judge off of what’s different to them, your identity.
Language is a beautiful thing isn't it? Language is one of the most important aspects of life. Language can be found in almost anything, not just proper English. Language can be anything, sign language, written, movement and even something you just made on impulse. One thing about language that definite, is that languages always evolves. in my life, I have had many experiences with languages. My language has always been changing, always evolving. Let me show you, my struggles, my accomplishments, my evolution.
Lets go back a few years, to when I was still starting out. This scene is about how “successful” I was at talking to others and trying to make friends. I was always a nervous and over thought everything. I still do.
3 seconds. What do I do? They were coming closer, only a few feet away. Thoughts raced all through my head. Calm down Nicholas its no big deal to anyone else, so I can do it for sure. But, what if it doesn’t go so well? What if I fail like always? What if I’m just ignored again? 2 seconds. No I can do it. I must do it! I need to change. Don’t lose faith now. I don’t want to stay like this! It’s so degrading. I don’t want to always be like this. I want to be more like you. You’re So open. You’re So free. If only I could take some of that for myself. 1 second. Please. Move. Do it. Just simply, speak. 0 seconds. “‘Yo” I mumbled with a quaking, nervous voice, barely audible. I was passed, so coldly, simply because I did not know how to use my voice. One day, I will be more like you some day. Just wait, and listen.
This, was a very common thing for me. I was always so quiet. It was so difficult for me to get good points across, so my ideas were usually left there. Dead. I just pushed my ideas aside, killing them in the process. Haha. I was an unintentional accomplice in murder. And I was fine with that. So it was always hard for me to make friends at school. It stayed like that for a majority of my life. Tragic. Ah, but it wasn’t just at school, this was at my house to, although it was only a little bit, I was always shy at home. I was just a timid little child, un-able to use their voice properly. I always felt powerless, since words mean power. That feeling of helplessness still lingers with me today. From that experience I learned something very valuable though. It is impossible to live without language. In order to have a normal life, you need to have some kind of language. Without language I would just be some nobody. Unimportant.
Why was I so pathetic with using my voice. Well I guess you could say it was my background. Both of my parents are from Jamaica, but me and my siblings grew up in a predominantly white neighborhood. There was pretty much only a handful of colored people there. There was a small amount of slang there, so I learned proper English. After a while I moved to Upper Darby into a predominantly black neighborhood. Even the white people were black. I found it extremely hard to fit in for the next few years, simply because they grew up around slang and I had to get use to talking to them. I learned how to talk using slang, but it did not come out naturally,since It was not how a normally talk, so I Just sat there listening. Even just listening to them talk was enough back then. Because I learned this new language I gained new interests. Music was one of the most important ones, because it has become an irreplaceable part of my identity. Even though you can not completely comprehend a language, as long as you can somewhat understand it, you can evolve from it.
Now a days I am more talkative. I have gotten better at using slang, and use it regularly. But, just because I learned a new language, doesn’t mean I don’t use proper English. There are advantages to both. When I speak in my casual language, I can relax and express myself. Not to forget making new friends. When I use my formal language, I get adults to respect me, and my friends parents to love me, and the more people that love me, the better. But after getting better at both of my languages, I feel so much more free. Especially at home, where I use a mixture of both.“Hollaa!” Oh no it was one of those days again. “Yo, mom chill!” “Ha-ha, holla.” Man, why did she have to start up with this as soon as I get home? She only does this at home, anywhere else she is so proper. I think she does it just to annoy me. “Why do you always say that?”, I said “What?” My mom replied “That word?” “What word?” She teased “HOLLA! Darn it…” “Ha-ha, well why can’t I?”, She answered, “You can talk like that, so why can’t I? It’s fun to talk like this. I guess you can say it is fun to express myself.” I guess she was right. I always express myself, so why can’t she. I guess this was unfair to get upset over it, but it was still annoying me. It irks the life out of me. I don’t think I’ll ever get over it though. I guess its just her way of having fun. I have mines, she has hers.
I was a kid born on April 27, 1996 and raised in Philadelphia, PA. Even though I was the only white guy in an urban environment, it was really easy to fit in. I never had a problem with it. Even though I was really white, me being Macedonian made me look Puerto Rican. My whole family looks either Puerto Rican or Mexican. We never knew until every time we went out to eat the waiter would speak to us in Spanish and we would have to tell them we don’t know Spanish.
As I grew up, I spoke 2 languages, English and Albanian. I spoke both at home and at school. In kindergarten, I spoke Albanian to the teacher and she never understood me so my parents had to start speaking English to me all the time to forget Albanian just until I grew up a little older.
“I believed that her English reflected the quality of what she had to say.” (Mother Tongue, page 2) In a way, different people already guess if what the person has to say is important or not. For example, the way I talk with my friends is different than how I talk to my family and how I speak formally. The result of me living in an urban environment affected the different languages I speak. It’s all the same words, but depending on whom I’m talking to, I have limitations for the choices of wording. Around my friends, I have no limitations; I can speak freely; curse a little, use slang, or just speak the language everyone else is speaking, that’s how I code-switch I listen to the language people are talking first then I adapt to it. I would use words like “was good?” to ask “how are you?” or “how’s it going?” or “jawn” to replace the actual thing I’m talking about to save time having to think about what its name is and more on describing it so the person I’m talking to knows what I’m talking about. Basically I can say what whatever I want. Whenever I speak like this, almost anything I say is irrelevant, but it carries a social conversation. Talking to family has limitations; I speak freely, but I don’t curse, or use slang. “Was good” would turn to “hey” or “hi” and I would cut out any language that can get me grounded with my rights taken away. Then when I talk to any other elders or people with power, I speak strictly Standard English and I watch what I say instead of speaking freely to show the quality behind my thoughts using big and meaningful words. Despite the limitations, there are advantages because as I choose the limitations for myself or show the respect I have for people, I gain more respect from the people around me as they see how I show them respect. Respect will always come in handy.
One way I speak with my friends is like when I meet them in the morning at SLA. As I walked into school, I scanned my ID to mark myself present and my day started. “8 O’CLOCK TIME TO GO UP!”, yelled Officer Byrd to get everyone to go to class. I listen to this as I walk in and have to fight the traffic of people walking towards the stairs which are in back of me. I walk over to my friends first because I still have 10 minutes before class starts and I want to wake up fully to begin my day. “WAS GUD BRANDEN?!”, I say in a hyper emotion as I offer a handshake starting from over my head to interlock palms and then pivot the body of our thumbs to switch into a formal handshake. Branden with his black glasses, tan jacket, baggy blue jeans, and grey Nike Air Jordan sneakers responds to my arrival with a hyped up, “REAL N****S!” Of course this response to my question didn’t make sense, but I just went with it and went on to all the rest of my friends giving handshakes and greeting them with, “Wassup yo” (another word we use to say “hey” or “hi” that makes us sound more masculine). They all responded with a regular “Wassup” back, except for Michael. Michael actually started a conversation.“Wassup Mike?”
I was waiting in the office. It was going to be another one of those conferences. These conferences were always the one event that I never looked forward to even though I knew I had nothing too bad to worry about. My report card looked amazing. It was definitely something I was proud of. I had A’s in all of my classes’ except for Algebra 1, it’s always math that’s my greatest weakness. I’m good at math, just never good enough to get an A. I always get the B. But that was the last thing on my mind. I couldn’t stop thinking about how the conference was going to be like. I was going to have to translate for my dad and my adviser’s back and forth. I hated talking Bengali in front of people whom I usually spoke English with. I just hated that awkward feel. I could just see the looks of my adviser’s when I start blabbering in Bengali for my dad. I wish that I didn’t have to translate in the first place. I mean my family and I have been living in a English speaking country for such a long time, why is translating so necessary?
Both of my brothers and sisters are a hundred percent fluent in English and I think that a lot of the time we think of English as our default language, putting Bengali second. If we could adjust to English so well why couldn’t my dad? I didn’t understand why my dad couldn’t speak proper English.
I was also upset over the fact that my mom wasn’t coming for the conference and that my dad was coming instead. I never really got a long with my dad. I had always preferred my mom. She always understood how I felt and we rarely ever argued. She also knew better English than my dad did, though she still had an accent. Even still, she spoke good enough to go through a report card conference without needing my help for translation. Also unlike my dad, she took ESOL classes a few years ago and she definitely benefited from it. But unfortunately she wasn’t going to be present during the conference. I sighed and looked at the door.
My dad walked into the office. He came over to me and asked where my conference was going to be.“3rd floor, lets go.” I said, tired, sounding like it too.
My dad smiled and nodded at Ms. Diane and headed back out the office door. I followed him out and then stepped ahead of him so I could lead him to Mr. Chase’s room. I knocked on his door and walked in. Mr. Chase and Kay both shook hands with my dad.“So what do we have here?” Mr. Chase says sounding pensive as he looked down at my narratives. “Jasmin, you can start” Mr. Kay said, nodding at me.
I began to talk about my grades and how my hardworking earned me A’s, I talked about when I went to lit/math lab during all of my lunch hours through the benchmark season and how I planned to improve in Algebra by taking more standards the next quarter. After I was done talking I looked at my adviser’s, they smiled and asked me a few questions along with giving me some recommendations so that I could keep up with my good grades. I nodded at my teachers, satisfied with their responses, and unwillingly turned to my dad. He was looking too intently at my report card, I thought he didn’t listen to anything I had said, or even understood anything I had said for the past 5 minutes. I sighed in annoyance, and repeated everything I had already said translating it into Bengali for him. My dad looked at me and the narratives back and forth. He nodded his head when I talked about all the A’s. That’s all he ever cared about. After I was done with the translation I looked back at my adviser's. They smiled.
“Balo corso” My dad said, meaning that I did a good job.
“Great job, kiddo!” Mr. Chase said enthusiastically with a big smile.
“We’re proud of you” Mr. Kay said also smiling widely.
“Thanks” I said quietly.
My dad got up and shook hands with my advisers again. I said bye and headed out the door with my dad.
On the way home I was upset throughout the whole ride. I tried to construct my expression into one that wouldn’t give away any of my hidden emotion that I was feeling at the moment. I didn’t show any sign of dis decency. “Balo corso” that’s all he said. I couldn’t believe it. I worked so hard for the past three quarters in my first year of high school and all I get in the end are two lousy words: “good job?” I could think of so many other things my dad could have said. Things that a parent who spoke and understood perfect English could have said. Maybe something like “You did an amazing job this quarter? I’m so proud of you. Don’t you worry about that B in Algebra, I am a hundred percent sure that you can bring that up with just a little bit more effort.” In my head that seemed to be the perfect thing to say instead of just a “Balo corso.”
As soon as I came home I saw my brother and sister compare their report cards. My dad had picked up theirs just before my conference.
“How’d you do?” My sister said.
“Good, you?” I responded.
“Not bad” She said sounding annoyed.
“What’s wrong?” I said. I could hear the curiosity in my voice.
“You should have seen how my conference went! I had to translate for Abujaan, he didn’t respond to any of the questions that my teachers were asking. And I had to translate the whole time!” She blabbered.
I shook my head and smiled. My sister had basically summarized exactly what had happened in my conference. I think that my dad’s lack of speaking English didn’t just affect me but also my sister.
My dad grew up speaking Bengali and was first introduced to English when we moved to Philadelphia. English as a second language was probably a huge a for him. A change much greater for him, than for my siblings or me. “language spoken in the family, especially in immigrant families which are more insular, plays a large role in shaping the language of the child” said Amy Tan. I think that what Amy Tan is trying to say is that speaking English in a family that that always speaks a different language changes who the person is. Just like my dad, who can be perfectly comfortable speaking Bengali but just as uncomfortable speaking English around those who speak it as their native language. From my experiences speaking Bengali and then learning English along with my family, I can definitely say language plays a big role in my life and it shapes who I am in the different characters that I play in life.
In the beginning we were asked to make a language autobiography about our language. At first I didn't understand what it meant to write that. After I read some other language autobiographies, I somewhat understood what it meant to write a language autobiography. I think that I wrote something similar to Amy Tan's "Mother Tongue" because I can relate to her. I learned a lot about how people think what languages are and how different we speak even though we all speak english.
I might still not be an adult now, but I know the experiences of becoming an adult. I was burdened with the responsibility to become my parents, or rather answer the phone calls as them, in the early course of my childhood.. At the time I was only 8 or 9 years old, my parents mostly spoke broken English and I answered most of the calls that came from anyone that was speaking English.
As I was the one going to school in America and spoke English for more than 7 hours a day, I would be the ideal candidate to answer the phone. I was forced to answer all the calls if the call spoke any kind of English. I would be the one answer the calls because my parents were afraid that the caller would take advantage of them not being able to speak English well. Most of the time I had to make up an excuse that “I” was busy. Most of the calls would go.
“Hello is Mr Le there?”
“I’m terribly busy, I can’t answer right”
“When will you be available?”
“Try again tomorrow at lunch”
After I would hang up the phone, and my parents would ask who called and what did they want. At times I would answer important business calls for my parents, because they wanted to make sure that there weren’t being fooled or conned. My dad would claim that the people who called were mostly asking for money for them or their organizations. The first time that I answered one the calls that was meant for my parents, I was nervous that I would mess up. What 8 or 9 year would answer a phone that could be a very important business. All I wanted to do was do my homework and play with my legos or watch TV. After the first call, I thought was all over, no more calls I would have to answer. Eventually when someone called I was always the one to pick it up, no matter how far I was or how close my parents were. Sometimes I would have to run across the house to pick up the phone, other times it would simply be next to me. I didn’t that I would have to answer a call from a complete stranger in my living room, pretending to be my own parents. What I wondered is that why would the callers push on and still call although. I have denied them so many times. The same thing would apply when we would go shopping; sometimes I had to ask for my parents how much this or that was because they could understand English that well or I had to say It for them because of this broken English. Although my English wasn’t like what it is now, I was able to speak clearly and everyone was able to understand me. Now I’m able to speak clearer and with better grammar. When I speak it doesn’t really show that I’m from Southwest Philadelphia because I don’t tend to use any slang when I speak.
When I was in the position of being my parents, I didn’t feel comfortable because I wasn’t doing something a kid would do at my age. I would have to impersonate my parents when somebody called. I think that influenced the way that I speak now. I think that by speaking properly at a young age, it influenced me to try speaking without any slang. Answering phone calls repeatedly I would have to speak with Standard English to sound like an adult. I couldn’t just speak the way I would if my friends, I would have to speak formally like if I were talking to a teacher or someone important. I think that made me changed the way I spoke even to my friends. Over time I noticed that I got more formal even with my friends and family. I did start getting less formal with my friends but got more formal when talking to adults or symbols of power. I think that when I became my parents when I was younger I was trained to talk in a formal way so that the caller could not recognize that I wasn’t my father.
Most of the time I would code switch between my friends, my parents, and other adults. I think that code switching is important because if were we to speak to adults like we do to our friend then it wouldn’t fit in. We couldn’t just talk to anyone with slang, if an important guess came to visit you would have to speak properly to show a good first impression. When we speak to our friends, we tend to be less formal then we do if we were talking to any adult. It’s important also when you talk to your parents and when you talk to teachers. You can’t just ask the teacher a personal question, like you would ask your parents. Like in “Mother Tongue” by Amy Tan, She talks differently when she’s near her mother or husband. When she’s around Americans, she uses sophisticated phrases Asking a stranger wouldn’t be normal, that’s why code switching is important. Code switching lets us to change our speech depending on where and who were talking to. Everyone code switches everyday, Husbands code switch when they’re near their wife and vice versa, Friends code switch when an adult is around. Everyone code switches at least once a day
Tan, Amy. Mother Tongue. National Council of teachers of english,
Language can give so many first impressions of a person. If a person speaks broken English, you automatically assume they don’t know much. If a person speaks with accents, you assume that they are not from the area. The tone of their language and how they use also affects the assumptions people put on the way you speak your language. The way I see it from my family experiences, “broken English” is basically a “simple” version of English.
The way I showed my language in descriptive scenes was a large part of my autobiography. The dialogue really gave the reader what happened in the moment. The dialogue shows the embarrassment that happens when broken English is spoken in public. I really had a hard time figuring out what the broken English in my family meant, but as I started writing out my scenes I figured out that broken English is a simpler version. Overall, I learned that the broken English used in my family is basically a “simple” version of Standard English that your family and you use to understand each other.FINAL
“Cái nay lam sao?” How do you work this? My cousin said in Vietnamese.
“You turn on the...” As I said those words, I remembered that my cousin couldn’t understand or speak English. I tried to think of Vietnamese words that will translate from what I wanted to say in English.
“You mo cai len” I said nervously.
My cousin’s confused facial expression made me give up on trying to speak Vietnamese to him. I decided to show him through my actions. I took the remote and showed him where the power button was. I took his hand and pushed his finger down on the power button. The TV turned on, and then he realize how my TV and remote works. Vietnamese was my first language, and I would use it talking to my parents, aunts, uncles, and grandparents. After he left my house, I realized that my Vietnamese is not as good as it used to be.
I noticed that you start losing your language overtime, because you use it less and less everyday. Overtime I knew that speaking Vietnamese was going to be horrible, because of everyday English use. It’s like an exchange student from Puerto Rico coming to America. The student has no choice but to speak English in school. Once I went to school, that’s when my family started to use English to help me in school. My dad started speaking English regularly to me in the house, so everyday I speak less and less Vietnamese. I grew up with Vietnamese and English. Vietnamese was my main language, but as I was exposed to English. I started losing my Vietnamese tongue.
There are many versions of one language. Everyone grows up learning what language they speak by the peers around them. People get used to speaking their family’s native tongue, but when they are in public, the tone of the language, choice, and pronunciation of the words are different. People would speak the way their language is used in their home, but in public they speak Standard English.
Translating was very difficult for me when I was younger, and it still is. I’m not very good at speaking Vietnamese. Whenever you speak Vietnamese or any other language besides English, some letters are pronounced in a different way. For example, in English the letter “a” is pronounced “aye or ah”. In Vietnamese “a” is pronounced “ow”. Whenever I speak Vietnamese, I pronounce the words like they are in English, some of my family can understand, while others have no clue what I am saying. I was always better at understanding Vietnamese than speaking it. My grandpa would always ask how am I doing whenever I go to his house. I would always try to say “I’m good” in Vietnamese. My grandpa would say back to me “No understand”.
My family speaks a lot of broken English, therefore I grew up speaking broken English to my family. I get frustrated whenever my family can’t get their point across speaking broken English. I get annoyed when people ignore and act like they know what my family is saying. They just say “Okay” and nod their heads, but I can tell from their confused expressions that they have no idea what my family is saying. In my mind, I feel that people are judging my family, because they can’t speak proper English. It doesn’t mean that my family is ignorant; they just can’t find the right words to express their thoughts. The embarrassment is not really a big issue for me, but I feel sympathy towards my family. I feel the need to step in and say what my family can’t say.
On my way home from school, my dad decided to get some fast food for me. He stopped by McDonalds, and we both went in to see what they had on the menu. “Hello, what can I get you?” asked the cashier.
I have numba won laaarge, with Coke?” my dad said.
“Can I get number two medium, with Coke?” I said.
“Okay, here’s your receipt. Your order will be with you in a sec.”
As we got our order, my dad wanted some barbeque sauce. He went back to the cashier and asked her for some sauce. “Can I have baabeque saut?”
“Excuse me?” The cashier looked at my dad like he was crazy.
“Can I have baabeque saut?”
“He said he wanted some barbecue sauce” I said strongly and annoyed.
“Dad, come on. Let’s go.”
“Okay Kenny. Why you rush?”
I felt embarrassed for my dad. The look that strangers give my dad because of the way he speaks makes me angry. I became frustrated at my dad, but I hid the frustration. I feel this way, because I don’t want anyone thinking my dad is stupid. People are always making assumptions about how bad people are speaking their second language. I know my dad speaks in broken English, and he tries his best to pronounce the words right. When he speaks in the public and can’t get his point across, I get frustrated and annoyed. I get embarrassed about the way he talks English to strangers. I try not to show him that I’m annoyed, because he can’t help but to talk broken English. At home it doesn’t really matter how my dad speaks because I don’t pay any attention at how he speaks. I understand his broken English, but others do not.
“The English I spoke with my mother, which for a lack of a better term might be described as “simple”; the English she used with me, which for a lack of a better term might be described as “broken”. - Amy Tan
The way I use English to speak with my dad could be called “simple”. To me, I realized it’s more of a “short-cut” than “simple”. I would shorten the usage words in my sentences. The English my dad uses to speak with me is “broken”. My dad asks me “I go to store. What you want from store?” Instead of saying “Can you go to the store and buy me milk?” I would just say, “Buy milk from store”. The English I use to speak with my dad could really be called “simple”, because it’s not how I talk in public. It’s just how I talk in my family, so that they can understand me.
Being who people want you to be, who you think you are, and who you are, are completely different things. Being who you are means expressing yourself, being the person you want to be, and doing the things you want to do. Being who you think you are means that you are unsure of who you are and you try to be yourself. However, yourself, your personality is being compromised by what people want you to be. Being who people want you to be means that you are completely compromising your true desires to please the people around you. Ultimately I have experienced all these things. The pattern of identity is different for everyone. Some people are themselves at one point of their lives and change into the way people want them to be. Some people start off as who people want them to be and change into who they truly are. And some people go back and forth between the three levels. I was who people wanted me to be, who I think I was, and now I am Dejah.
It all started with the way that I talk and where I come from. I am from Germantown, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. My family that lives in Philadelphia lives and or grew up in the more dangerous neighborhoods. They talk very differently than I do. We all have the similar Philadelphia accent of saying water ad “wader”. However, their grammar and way of speaking is more southern and old than mine is. They say that I talk “white” because I talk properly.
My mother and father are the entertainers of our family. We have cookouts all the time. We held one in the summer of 2008, the summer before I switched schools, and the entire family was there. Everyone sat on chairs facing tables on the lawn. My little cousins were running around everywhere and playing in a blow up pool on the sidewalk. I was sitting on my stairs waiting for one of the older women to ask me to get them a glass of water or come up to me and say “ OH MY GOSH SWEETIE! YOU GOT SO BIG! How ya doin?”. And I would answer with the same response, “I’m fine”. I didn’t say this because I couldn’t hold a conversation with someone in my family but more so because the way I talk offended them.
If I were to have a conversation with one of my aunts they would either tell my dad how well I speak or that I talk like I think that I am better than they are. I do not think that at all. I talk with proper grammar because that is the way that I was taught to talk in school. I guess I talk the way that they feel like they are being talked down to. They never want to talk to me because of this. Therefore, I get talked about and now have the nickname Oreo, black on the outside white on the inside. Instead of fighting it and being who I wanted to be, I gave in and compromised to my family. I don’t talk improperly I just don’t talk at all. This is my way of being who they want me to be because it is easier than being myself.
Things started to change when I changed schools in seventh grade. At my old school I was judged for talking the way I did because I went to an all African American school. I looked at this new school as a chance to start over in a new place where people don’t know me and can’t make any judgments. The school I went to was more diverse so it was better. I was still talked about because of the way that I talked. However, I started changing the way I dressed and acted. The way I dressed changed because I would buy anything I thought was pretty but nothing that went together. I owned this look because I thought it was “me”. People started talking about the way that I dressed and I thought I had to gain friends back so I started to be a little bit different to earn respect from the popular people. I was so set on who I was at this time. I thought this was just the way that I am going to be for years. In this case, I was being who I though I was. I was acting slightly in the way I wanted because, for years, I was not able to be the person that I wanted to be. However, the way I was acting was not fully “me”. My way of thinking was being compromised by the way people wanted me to be.
until Fall of 2011, I was not fully acting myself. Now I am one hundred percent
Dejah. Although some people in my family hate vintage clothing, I love it. I
love thrift store shopping and knowing that there is an unknown story behind
every piece of clothing. I dress the way I want to dress. I do my hair the way
I want it to look. I care about people feeling and try to be as nice as
possible. However, I do not let that impact my life to the point where I am
completely unhappy. Everyone has changed throughout his or her life. But at
this point in mine, I am “me”. I am not who people want me to be. I am not who
I think I am. I am Dejah and will forever be Dejah.
III. Digital Story
This story is a revelation and I reflection that I had about my life.
I. Ethan ReeseCopper
The project was to write a story about a struggle that had to do with you and language. Your overall goal was to link your story to a larger Idea about how language is power or other themes of language. My theme was about how when you take a persons voice away you’re taking away so much more, and there were parts that were easy but parts that I had to struggle. One of the parts that were easy for me was conveying a message about how easy it is to lose your confidence and all social life if your voice is repressed enough. Something I struggled with was trying to remember more than two times that my voice had been repressed, and how to describe the scenes I could only remember a little. What I learned from doing this project was how every language and every voice is important to someone else, imagines all the things that would have happened if historical people didn’t speak out. I can truly say I have a better understanding of language.
My mom again growing up in a German household spoke German and English she proceeded to be just as overpowering and leaving me out spoken as the rest of my family. So I was always shy in middle school. I was the kid who sat their and talked to his two or three friends and did his work up until 6th grade, this is when I really think I found my voice. For some reason it seemed to be an instant switch in my family that they stopped speaking German around me and started talking in all English when I was around which gave me the courage I needed to go to school and be more vocal and find a voice that worked for me.
The first day In my new school 6th grade I decided that I was going to speak out and be heard by everyone and everyone I could, but I spoke so proper and neat tight English. When they spoke in dialects and slang that I didn’t understand. Even to this day I didn’t understand it, so I had to learn to talk like they did I started picking up slang and ways of talking around them and than at my home I switched back to speaking proper. It was a balance not easily kept in both groups the other slang and dialect popped out and I hoped they wouldn’t notice. I kept this act up as long as I could, but it got tiring of being two people all the time, I had to find a voice that could fit me but everyone could understand. So I set out on my quest to find my perfect voice.
Of course I couldn’t just change my slang and voice in one day I had to try thousand’s of different ways of talking, Southern, Ghetto, Proper, even trying to do impressions but none of them worked for me I went back to being that quite kid in school who all he did was work.
My teacher confronted me about it and asked me if their was something wrong. I replied saying “ Mr. Q. I’m so confused its so tiring pretending to be two different people when I go home I put on my good little boy talking proper act, but than whve to change my voice back to talking like the rest of the class. I can’t decide which to keep and which to get rid of please help”.
He said to me “ Ethan, I can’t tell you to speak in a way that represents you. I can set you on the path to it though. When you talk inside of yourself how do you talk when you think how do you think. These are the things that make your speech pattern, I can’t teach you how to think any the less more than how to talk, I can teach you the words but the rest is up to you”
I realized how right he was, my voice isn’t something that can be learned or unlearned it’s something that is forever existing inside of you, it is your thought it is your attitude, it is who you are. My voice was found and ever since than I have never had a loss of words, I have never been talked over, and I promised my self my identity would never change again just like my voice.
So that brings us to present day, my family listens to my thoughts and feelings even though I don't speak German and I’m confident enough to overpower their voices, as for my friends I have ones now that understand what I’m saying in my own voice. I now have a deeper understanding that language is identity it shows who you are under all your layers it is how you talk and form your self, I can truly say I have found my Identity... I can say I have found my voice.