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I was born in Maywood, IL at Loyola Hospital and I was raised in Westchester, IL. My family’s language background is English. However on my father’s side I am Polish, yet I have never learned how to speak it or ever heard it from any of my family members on that side.
As a baby the first voice I recognized the most was my mothers’. I recognized my own name, so anytime someone called out my name I would pop my head up.
Babbling and gibberish came first then around the time I was 1 ½ years old I said my first words, which were mama and couscous (this was my so called version of the word pretzels.)
Being the first born so I was around my parents and my grandparents more than anyone else. My mother always read to me, then once I began learning how to read she would listen to me to make sure I was reading fluently and pronouncing everything correctly.
And of course there was the occasional baby talk that I went through as well. The constant look at the little baby, and look how cute you are was a language itself. Being around my grandparents they loved to sit down and conversations with me. So I was able to pick up on their words and comprehend their use of dialect.
Throughout middle school and high school grammar was hammered into the curriculum. Teachers put a strong emphasis on nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, and almost everything else that could be categorized into the subject of grammar.
I can recall one of my teachers who said “ Grammar is the backbone of your reading and listening comprehension. I didn’t value grammar because I believed as long as you could talk you didn’t need it. However I had it all wrong. Without grammar we would all be talking in the wrong tenses, using the incorrect words to describe people and places. Grammar is indeed the back of everything to do with not only with reading and listening but just simple communication.
When I was fully capable of understanding myself in terms of language and dialect I was able to understand the difference between the two. Almost everyone I knew spoke English, however some individuals had different dialects. For example my grandmother on my mom’s side is from New York and she has an accent. Including my grandparent’s on my dads’ side who were from Tennessee. They are all fluent in English but they just sound different based on where they come from which I was able to notice right away.
When I entered high school was when I was faced with linguistic prejudice. For a majority of my classes we had essays, socratic seminars, group discussions, and class presentations: Some teachers were so surprised that I spoke properly and sounded intelligent and turned the remarks into compliments. However I was offended because it was perceived that I didn’t have the ability to speak and present myself in such a high manor. Your looks shouldn’t depict whether or not you can speak properly or sound intelligent. To add I do believe I am linguistically secure because I have strong confidence in the use of my own language. I’ve been speaking English for years and I’ve grown to have a vast variety of vocabulary. Having linguistic security has a strong impact on my linguistic behavior because it makes it easier to speak and to understand language in the context of text. The only thing I can say dislike about linguistics is the process of learning another language. I strongly disliked taking Mandarin in high school during my sophomore year. It was nothing against the language it was just a complex subject. Not only did you have to know the characters, but the writing system which was Pinyin (Latin form) and the pronunciation was which a Beijing dialect.
Overall my relationship to language has changed in a way, however it is still progressing. As I advance in college there is no doubt it will get stronger. But as of now my relationship to language open and is ready for improvements to gain more knowledge.
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