Gloria Anzaldua and Amy Tan Essay
Anzaldua would not really agree with Tan’s goal for her writing. In a society where perfection is practically expected but impossible to achieve, language is one of the many ways that anyone around us can judge us. It is as Tan said, “…the fact that people in department stores, at banks, and at restaurants did not take her seriously, did not give her good service, pretended not to understand her, or even acted as if they did not hear her. Tan even said how her mother’s English ashamed her, that because her mother’s English was limited, it limited her perception of her mother, and that since her words were said imperfectly her mother’s thoughts were imperfect. There are instances every day of people that are not fluent in English, not being treated with the same respect, kindness, and service as their counterparts that are fluent.
For some reason, it is embedded in most Americans’ minds that if someone cannot speak English as well as themselves, they are either not intelligent, not worthy of their time, or even not considered to be anywhere near important as someone who can. In Azaldua’s essay she goes in-depth in explaining the many different kinds of Spanish, and how and where they are used. Some of the different types of languages that she spoke included; standard English, working class and slang English, standard Spanish, standard Mexican Spanish, north Mexican Spanish dialect, Chicano Spanish, Tex-Mex, and Pachuco.
However Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California have different regional variations for Chicano Spanish. She also wrote on how she was punished for speaking Spanish or “talking back to her teacher. ” Even her mother was mortified that she was speaking English like a Mexican. When she was in college she even had to take two classes that were aimed to get rid of her accent. Azaldua is very correct in her statement that, “Attacks on one’s form of expression with the intent to censor are a violation of the First Amendment. (P. 33) Azaldua was explaining how Spanish speakers will be the biggest minority group in the United States. Most students in high school and college have been encouraged to take French classes, however by the end of the century Spanish not English will be the primary language of most Latinos in the United States. Azaldua told a story of how she was teaching a high school English course and she tried to incorporate some Chicano works of literature but she was abruptly reprimanded and forbidden to do so by the principal.
However, even though there was a risk of her being fired, she had her students swear not to say anything about it, so she could show them Chicano short stories, poems, and plays. It is important to not just focus on one aspect of literature, diversity is needed for student to expand their minds, and learn of other cultures’ ways of thinking, writing, and living. I would have to agree totally with Tan’s perspective that, language is very powerful and that it can evoke many things, such as emotions, a visual image, a complex idea, or even a simple truth.
She also speaks on how she uses different kinds of English depending on whom she speaking to. I can relate to this because the language I use with friends, compared to my boss, teacher, or parents is totally different; much like how it most likely is with almost everyone else. Even though her mother English is broken, she is actually able to understand more than people think. The way she expresses herself in English, is constrained by how much English she knows, so for anyone who speaks to her they could come to the conclusion that she is unintelligent and should not be taken seriously.
However the way she express herself in Chinese is much better, so if speaking to someone in Chinese she could come off as being someone that is very intelligent and formulates their ideas and thoughts into way that is articulate and charming. People judge others by their fluency of their same language or dialect, so naturally someone who is not wholly fluent in the same language would not come off as being someone who is intelligent.