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Public and Private Language Essay

1. The author didn’t like the American words that children used to address their parents (Mother, Father) because those words didn’t have for him the special, tender sounds that his origin language of Spanish had. He hated those American words but also didn’t use the Spanish words- mama and papa- because they painfully reminded him of how much his life had changed after English became his primary language. 2. The real reason for the author’s continuous silence was the difficulty in expressing his words in the English language.

He simply didn’t know how to speak in English. 3. According to the reading: Public language – the English language spoken by teachers and children in school, by the people in the author’s community, and within public society in general. Private language – the language at home between family members Public identity – certain kinds of characteristics shared among children in school, the membership of school society

Private identity- certain kinds of characteristics shared among family members at home, which defined this group Summary In Public and Private Language, the author Richard Rodriguez talks about his experience with English, which was his secondary language, the obstacles he had to over come as a young boy, and the effect English language had on his life. Richard Rodriguez came from a Mexican-American family, where the only language they spoke at home was Spanish.

The author talks about the problems he had with learning the English language once he became a student. Due to the difficulties he had with expressing his thoughts and ideas in a new language, he often was quiet and wasn’t active in school. The teachers were concerned about his education and decided to encourage his parents to get involved in solving this problem. After that the author realized the immediate change in his parents’ behavior. Everybody in the house started to talk in English more often.

Rodriquez wasn’t necessarily happy with this change because his “private” language was replaced with the “public” language of los gringos, and he felt like the intimacy of his family wasn’t the same anymore. As his English improved over time, he couldn’t find the easing tenderness in English words like “Mother” and “Father” that he could find in Spanish words when he addressed his parents. Although there are many obstacles and dark sides of the English language, the author significantly improved his English over time.


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