“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.

2 thoughts on “QSR2

  1. I think you are right that you have different values on one level, but on another level you have something you are both interested in: freedom. She is interested in a freedom to express herself and be in the world in the way that she wants to do so (in other words, I think, a freedom to not assimilate completely and not face repercussions for this resistance to a complete assimilation. Based on my interpretation of what you write here, you are interested in the freedom that wealth can provide (at least in terms of housing, spending, and other material goods), and sacrificing (or taking on new) identities is worth that freedom.

    One thing I’ll push back on (and I have to because of course I do, I’m an English teacher!) is this: “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.” Language is all of those things! We use it in regard to how we cook and dine out, we use it for the video games we play or physical activity we engage in, and so on. We have different ways of using language depending on the different things we do. But it is always there. And I think that’s why language is seen as so important to identity in this text.

    Enjoyed reading!

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