Taming Anzaldua’s Contact Zone Analysis

1124 words - 4 pages

“The Contact Zone”, is defined by Mary Louis Pratt as “the space in which transculturation takes place – where two different cultures meet and inform each other, often in highly asymmetrical ways.” Pratt describes what she calls ‘contact zones’ and elaborates on the pros and cons of these cultural interactions. She sees the contact zone as a place that allows people to exchange cultural ideas and break down the dividing cultural borders. When a contact zone is started, people are able to interact on new levels gaining a new perspective because they are able to collaborate with people from foreign cultures. If you are always with people of the same culture as you, you become used to hearing everything from the same perspective. With a new perspective, you can see your culture from a different point of view and reanalyze the logic behind your cultural traditions. Every ethnic/ religious/ regional/ cultural group has its high and low points, and it is just as important to learn about the low points as it is to learn about the highs. Gloria Anzaldua’s essay, “how to tame a wild tongue”, focuses on the ideas of losing an accent or native language to conform to the dominant culture.
Anzaldua grew up in the United States but spoke mostly Spanish, however, her essay discusses how the elements of language began to define her identity and culture. She was living in an English speaking environment, but was not White. She describes the difficulty of straddling the delicate changing language of Chicano Spanish. Chicano Spanish can even differ from state to state; these variations as well as and the whole Chicano language, is considered a lesser form of Spanish, which is where Anzaldua has a problem. The language a person speaks is a part of who they are. So if your primary language is considered uneducated or trashy, then that reflects on yourself; ethnic identity and linguistic identity are intertwined in that way. Anzaldua takes great pride in her language, “So if you want to really hurt me, talk badly about my language. Ethnic diversity is twin skin to linguistic identity – I am my language” (p89). She states that her language is a part of herself so when you insult Chicano it’s like a strike to the heart of Anzaldua. Anzaldua goes on to explains that although Chicanos all over the US speak different dialects of Chicano Spanish, they are still all Chicanos. Just because the language varies a little does not diminish its authenticity. People who speak a variation on a language should not be ashamed because they speak a little differently. “There is the quiet of the Indian about us. We know how to survive. When other races have given up their tongue we’ve kept ours. We know what it is to live under the hammer blow of the dominant norteamericano culture. but more we count the blows, we count the days the weeks the years the centuries the aeons until the white laws and commerce and customs will rot in the deserts they’ve created” (p93). She strongly...

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