QSR2 – Anzaldua

Culture can be a very broad term for most people because it entails many factors ranging from food to music and even language. Of these factors, language may perhaps be the most important representation of culture because it enables individuals within a given cultural grouping to communicate and understand one another. At the same time, the integration of different cultures may pose a problem seeing as it often results in the creation of new languages that may not be readily accepted by dominant cultures. Gloria Anzaldua makes this apparent in her essay titled “How to Tame a Wild Tongue,” where she states that the cultures that emerge from the fusion of two or more others are often treated with disdain. More specifically, she states that her Chicana identity has placed her at odds with other Spanish-speaking people as well as Americans because “there is no one Chicano language just as there is no one Chicano experience” (39). Anzaldua, nevertheless, insists that she will provide a voice for any individual who feels that they have been unjustly antagonized because of their language preference.

In the article “How to Tame a Wild Tongue,” Anzaldua further notes that “Ethnic identity is twin skin to linguistic identity – I am my own language.” In my opinion, the author has used the phrase “I am my own language” to denote that language is an inextricable part of one’s ethnicity or race. In other words, the phrase implies that there is a strong connection between the language that one speaks and their cultural heritage. This assertion seems valid because as mentioned above, language remains to be one of the most important factors that can unite people who have a common heritage. A different explanation of the phrase is that individuals cannot be forced to give up their sense of self and culture as expressed through language to be accepted in America. Instead, they should be embraced and respected for who they are. In the case of Anzaldua, she is insisting that she wants Americans to accept that she cherishes her Chicano Spanish roots and that she will not bow to pressure to speak or relate to another language.

Anzaldua’s experiences are relatable to most people because unless one belongs to the majority racial group, they will always face some degree of backlash over the use of their native language in expressing themselves. The attack on languages spoken by minorities or immigrants eventually causes repression and marginalization of individuals from such communities. Nevertheless, I find hope and joy in Anzaldua’s assertion that “one day the inner struggle will cease and a true integration take place” (44). For native English speakers, this statement might not mean much because they are accustomed to speaking the language from birth. However, for individuals who share a racial identity and whose language is not considered to be among the mainstream ones, such a statement brings happiness and even inspires them to take pride in their linguistic identity because the mistreatment they face for belonging may soon be a thing of the past.


“I am my language.” Sure, I am also what I eat, what I do (hobbies), and the friends I hang out with. To sum up, I am a combination of various things; one particular thing does not define me. Because of that, the phrase sounds a little exaggerated to me. Of course, language may have a special significance in the author’s culture that I do not understand, but for me, it is not something worth screaming out. Sure, I’m proud of my origin and the language and culture that comes along with it, as should pretty much anybody. But instead of “Wild tongues can’t be tamed, they can only be cut out,” I associate myself more with the line “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” Maybe there is a difference in the values or virtues between the author’s culture and mine (Chinese) that we hold close to our hearts. The author, on one hand, demonstrates her passion to preserve her culture through her bold act of giving Chicano literature to her students without the principal’s permission, as well as using Spanish throughout the text, on many occasions without translation, to form a gate that blocks outsider from a clear comprehension of her intentions. On the other hand, my perspective is that instead of focusing on identity preservation, the Chinese-American community puts greater attention on integration, acculturation, in order to achieve financial freedom and even financial success. Within the community, we can speak Chinese or English, whichever is more comfortable for the speakers. Outside the community, we are fairly comfortable with speaking English to build relationships and present our thoughts and ideas in public. This also reminds me of a Chinese proverb: “Whether you’re a black cat or a white cat, if you can catch mice, you’re a good cat.” And in my community, a good cat is a financially successful one. So again, I think its the difference in values that is apparent when comparing the author’s culture and mine.

To me, slang in general makes me feel familiar and sometime laugh out loud. I think it is fair to say that slang is way more common for younger people, especially Gen Y and Gen Z. Slang is similar to Black English in Baldwin’s article in that a group of young people could be talking in slang, while older listener may not have a clue about what the conversation is about. Another interesting thing about slang is that when an older person uses it, it becomes funny for us. Not only that, but it also makes the atmosphere much less formal and we generally respect that the older generation chose to adopt “our” language in order to connect with us in a more friendly manner. This also relates to what I discussed in the previous paragraph because it is an example of the benefits of integration. When an older person speaks in a formal tone, he/she accentuates the distance in regards to age between the speaker and the audience. Whereas a speaker who attempts to empathize with the listeners with an informal tone receives respect for the effort to make a connection.