Languages define a culture itself and every language in the world expresses the heart and spirit of people who speak it. Languages explain the human capacity for acquiring and using complex systems of communication. Everyone has a language that they convey and pursue in everyday activities. Gloria Anzaldua, author of “How to Tame a Wild Tongue”, is a Mexican American woman who takes great pride in her culture, but struggles to keep the form of Spanish called, “Chicano Spanish” alive. Born and raised in South Texas, Anzaldua will always have Mexican culture in her blood, but living in such a strict American society, she feels pressured to choose to speak either an English that American society would appreciate, or Castilian that the Mexican society would agree with. Growing up, Anzaldua slowly realized that others mistreated her because her language was poor. She expresses herself in the text through her personal experiences, struggles, and her gender role within her language and culture. Everyone has a specific role that they associate with when it comes to speaking different languages.
Anzaldua describes this by saying, “My ‘home’ tongues are the languages I speak with my sister and brothers, with my friends” (“Tongue” 36). With Chicano Spanish and Tex-Mex as some of the most dependent languages for her, she also speaks a total of five different languages that she picked up from school, reading literature, and different cultures. She feels most confident when she speaks in her native tongue, without the distraction of adjusting to another language. She knows how to speak many languages, but is always having to speak differently according to different cultures. As time went on, the Chicano language grew rapidly, and now includes elements from seven different languages, such as Standard English, Working class and slang English, Standard Spanish, Standard Mexican Spanish, North Mexican Spanish dialect, Chicano Spanish, and Tex-Mex. Eventually, the Chicanos started to believe they needed a language that could be identified as their own. According to Anzaldua, Chicanos are “complex, heterogeneous people,” and because of that, they speak many different languages (“Tongue”, 36).
Is the way we speak always how others you want to interpret it? Growing up, Chicanos believed they spoke poor Spanish. They would feel uncomfortable talking to others because mainstream American culture discouraged the use of their language. She describes the discrimination, “It is illegitimate, a bastard language. And because we internalize how our language has been used against us by dominant culture, we use our language differences against each other” (“Tongue”, 38). Therefore, Chicanos felt obligated to use their own dominant language because they were proud of their culture. In this way, Anzaldua takes pride in herself and the language she speaks. She expresses this pride by saying, “So, if you want to really hurt me, talk badly about my language. Ethnic identity is twin to linguistic identity- I am my language” (“Tongue”, 39). Anzaldua believes that even if you live in a country where the language you speak is not accepted, still continue to use your native tongue because it defines who you are as a person. “I will no longer be made to feel ashamed of existing.
I will have my voice: Indian, Spanish, white. I will have my serpent’s tongue- my woman’s voice, my sexual voice, my poet’s voice. I will overcome the tradition of silence” (“Tongue” 40). Aristotle classifies language by the use of persuasive arguments and using the three different types of persuasive appeals (pathos, logos, and ethos) (Aristotle 489). Whereas Anzaldua believes there are no right or wrong way to use language. Aristotle view of language is more persuasion whereas Anzaldua’s view is more social and applies more to modern day speaking. Many have the difficulties of speaking certain languages, but imagine those not being able to speak words because of the inability to even hear the words being spoken. This is why her view is more relevant to people today. Anzaldua expresses herself throughout her life of having a challenging time speaking her language; similarly, I Jordan Kohl, believe that language is a special device that should not be taken for granted.
As someone who has sensorineural hearing loss, I know that language can have many complications. If you cannot hear, you cannot speak. Pronouncing words or phrases beginning with certain letters such as a, ‘’S”, “W”, and “T”, has taken numerous years for me to conquer. Anzaldua’s way of learning new languages was through listening at school, radio, TV, and reading newspapers and magazines; mine was through reading lips, speech therapy, wearing hearing aids, and various hearing tests. While Anzaldua’s experiences may have had a struggle to maintain a positive outlook on her language conflicts, mine was to keep track of listening to other people’s words.
Aristotle’s view of persuasive arguments obviously does not apply to my life as much as her does. How we communicate with each other is the way we connect. Anzaldua illustrates that the language we speak should not isolate people from each other. Be proud of the language you speak, even if others do not agree. I myself believe that any language should be honored because some cannot even hear the words. Anzaldua’s perspective has helped people have a better understanding of the importance being appreciative of languages. Language cannot be separated from culture as an independent aspect because any language is a culture itself.
Anzaldua, Gloria. “How to Tame a Wild Tongue.” Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestize (2007) 33-44. Print. Aristotle. “Rhetoric” 489-501 Print.