Monday, October 6, 2008

James Baldwin

I have the same thoughts on this essay as all the rest. Language is a barrier if it is not understood. Yes, black people were mistreated by white people. I have no other thoughts about that historical prejudice. The title of Baldwin's essay is "If Black English isn't a language, then tell me, what is?" You tell me Mr. Baldwin, who says Black English isn't a language? It seems to me that Baldwin is struggling to connect with an African-American culture in America that is positive. Mexicans have Spanish, Americans have English, but he wants Black Americans to have their own language. THEY DO! Everyone does! That's the beauty of it Mr. Baldwin, you can speak any language you want and call it your own. Maybe my ignorance is getting in the way of the point of this essay, but I'm pretty sure it's another attempt at separating your race further by defining something that's already defined. You speak your language, I speak mine. They're both recognized as languages. The first line in the essay: "The argument concerning the use, or the status, or the reality, of black English is rooted in American history and has absolutely nothing to do with the question the argument supposes itself to be posing." WTF? You've made your point. Black people created their own language because of white people. Got it.

Amy Tan

Language comprehension has nothing to do with intelligence. The sooner people realize this, the sooner we'll be more comfortable with the melting pot we live in. If someone doesn't speak a language you understand, or even if it's a broken version of it, there's no indication of intelligence level. Interpretation is where the "broken" language is created. I understood everything Tan's mother was communicating about Du Yusong. I know people who are intolerant of other people's shortfalls when it comes to English. "If they are going to live here, they need to speak our language." Well, that poses an interesting question. What is our language? We have different languages for regions in America, let alone all of the different countries in the world. The ability to communicate an internal thought is where "linguistic intelligence" (I just made that term up) lies. Figure out how to make people understand what you are saying. That's the point of this class, right? Effective verbal picture painting. There will never be a day that we settle on one global language, at least not in my lifetime, but for now we have to be more tolerant. This tolerance is going to result in better communication, and less segregation between cultures.

Gloria Anzaldua

"Language is twin skin to identity." I agree completely. However, I think the same could be said about any trait that someone posesses. Your identity is who you are, how you act, what you say, what you wear, the color of your skin, where you live, and every other aspect of what you are. Language specifically is one of the biggest definitions of identity because it is the most common form of communication. We use language everyday to transfer information from our brains to other people. Our identity is shaped by our experiences in life up to the present time, therefore our language is based upon personal experience. I can't empathize at any other level than my own when it comes to personal attacks on my language. "Minorities" have had a difficult time in America historically because their native languages weren't spoken here originally. I've never had English thrown back in my face as a language that shouldn't be spoken, so it's wrong for me to say that Anzaldua is being over sensitive about her language. I think this: say what you think and speak how you want, you never have to take heed to other people's judgements.