Underneath The Skin Essay

1502 words - 7 pages

The southern united states also known as the American south, Dixie, or simply the south a place know for its culture, history and developing its own customs, musical styles and food. Home to two amazing writers, scholars, feminist, activist bell hooks and Gloria Anzaldua. Everyone has something that defines who he or she is by the exclusive things they do. Fashion, culture, life experiences, as well as language all contribute in creating one’s identity. Without the freedom to express your self there is no soul. The inability to speak freely is a form of suppression and without that freedom there cannot be a true reflection of a persons identity and self-concept. “How To Tame a Wild Tongue,” ...view middle of the document...

Her family primarily spoke Spanish, but while at school and in the community, they had to speak English, the accepted language of America. Anzaldua did not want her native language to die, so she wrote “How to Tame a Wild Tongue” to express her feelings, and to show how code switching affected a persons everyday life. The writer expresses that depending on whom she was talking to, she would have to use a different type of Spanish depending on where the person was from, or English is she was speaking with a white American. According to Anzaldua there were about seven different dialects of Spanish that she knew how to speak she also wrote about her culture, and how they enjoyed different types of movies and music than what would be considered “popular” for the white community.
Once Anzaldua went to college, she was given a speech class were the point of the class was to get rid of her accent. This is when she realized that her language was at risk of dying, and she believed it should last as long as there were Mexican-Americans in the United States. Anzaldua states, “ I will no longer be made to feel ashamed of existing. I will have my voice: Indian, Spanish, White.” We all use language, normally that is appropriate to the situation we are in, including who we are talking to and where we are, and even what emotions we are feeling. For instance, two students are having a conversation amongst each other. They are speaking urban slang or hip English but when they start to talk to their professor about an assignment they’re working on, they begin speaking Standard English. No matter if it is Anzaldua switching between two different languages or her acting different around different groups of people; everyone code switches whether it is subtle, or obvious.
Code switching can reveal how a person’s culture can influence their language and identity through out life. It’s a part of that person identity, it helps us to have a better understanding of that person and their culture. In todays society it is critical to have the ability to function effectively across cultural boundaries. Language is a marker of class, of race, and of gender. Language marks one as a member of a group. It may portray where we grew up, or our nationality, it may portray what kind of education we’ve had, or it may mark us as upper class or lower class. By marking, I mean how others perceive us. In Anzaldua, “How to Tame a Wild Tongue” her teacher implies, “If you want to be American, speak American.’ If you don’t like it, go back to Mexico where you belong.” Hearing a teacher tell you something like that can have a mental and psychological effect on how you see yourself in society and where you belong.
Code switching helps us understand how cultural influences are reflected in our language and identity. Hooks who grew up on the out skirts of Philadelphia and a father with a sensitive job, requiring him to pack up and move in a moment's notice, her family moved in excess of two...

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