When I hear the phrase “I am my language”, I think it resonates with me heavily. Anzaldúa constantly stresses the importance of the ties between language and identity throughout her piece, but I believe this line in particular hits the nail on the head in a very poetic way. I believe it talks about how language and identity are intertwined and cannot be separated, while also alluding to how the “linguistic terrorism” the author refers to, essentially strips an individual of their identity overall when they are stripped of their language, meaning they are no longer “themselves”, but in fact taking on a completely new identity based on language.

Personally I can relate to this. I grew up in the Bronx, NY, where most Latinx and non-Latinx black people speak AAVE. To us, it doesn’t really feel like a different language, and most folks don’t even recognize it as a dialect; not because they think it’s illegitimate, but because they just see it as English. They don’t have a special name for it. It’s just regular English to them.

However, my mom made sure I knew the difference, and while she did recognize it as a legitimate dialect, she did not believe it was appropriate to use in a professional/academic environment, so I was “forbidden” from using it in school and around her; she wanted “academic English” to be my default. Of course she couldn’t stop me from using it in school but I’m still not allowed to speak like that around her. This difference in language caused me to have a huge identity crisis that lasted most of my life, so I resonate heavily with this quote. I think language does play a huge role in your identity, and sometimes that “linguistic terrorism” starts at home, which is why so many POC children grow up having to sacrifice some part of their identity at some point.


“I’m the one I should love in this world.” – Kim Seokjin, BTS

I chose this phrase in particular because while there are tons of phrases and aspects of language that bring me joy, including my own “New York accent” as I’ve been told (or in all honesty, the regional-unique[?] AAVE I tend to use), I think the linguistic aspect of this one is super interesting and something definitely worth discussing.

Kim Seokjin is a South Korean singer in the South Korean boyband known as BTS.  I’m sure most folks have heard that name at least once, especially considering their recent spike in popularity amongst the general public (or to be more specific, the populus that doesn’t already listen to k-pop). Most folks who don’t speak Korean wouldn’t really spare a glance in the direction of k-pop simply because they’re not interested in music they cannot understand (which is valid to an extent in my humble opinion). However, as you all may know, not all k-pop listeners (also known as “stans”, meaning stalker fan, which comes from Eminem’s song “Stan”) are Korean and/or speak Korean.

The phrase come from Kim Seokjin’s solo song, “Epiphany”, from the group’s album “Love Yourself: Answer”. The title is pretty self-explanatory, explaining that the singer has an “epiphany”, where he realizes he should love himself. However, one of the most interesting aspects of this song (and k-pop overall) is the language barrier. Despite not every single one of their fans being fluent in Korean (or English, seeing that the line is sung in English), all of their fans were able to receive, understand, and digest this message. In the passage we read in class, “How to Tame a Wild Tongue”, the author talks about how important language is to cultural identity and how it’s not something that can be easily stripped. Language means everything to us, especially when you’re a part of a marginalized group. So to have a South Korean boy group be able to convey the universal message of the importance of self-love without having to sacrifice their identity as East Asian men, is honestly incredible to see. Humanity seems to be so obsessed with the idea of assimilation and being “one in the same” that we are willing to sacrifice centuries of culturally significant languages, practices, garments, etc. all in the sake of fulfilling their “one race: human” fantasies.


5 thoughts on “Epiphany

  1. This sounds really tough: “I think language does play a huge role in your identity, and sometimes that ‘linguistic terrorism’ starts at home.” I thought of Anzaldúa’s opening about how her mother didn’t want Gloria to speak Chicano Spanish just as much as her Anglo teachers. However, there are different reasons for this. For her mother and probably for yours, they want what is best for you and they know how certain languages are valued more than others. While I understand that sentiment, I do think (and research backs this up!) this approach to language use can do harm even if it is for the best of intentions. It is a tough problem, though, because I get the logic behind it. What’s the best way to learn and love our languages while still dealing with racist, xenophobic, classist and other prejudicial orientations toward certain languages?

    I also want to note: Wow. That K-pop lyric analysis was so beautiful and very relevant to the reading on translingualism that we have coming up due for tomorrow. There’s a lot here: “Humanity seems to be so obsessed with the idea of assimilation and being ‘one in the same’ that we are willing to sacrifice centuries of culturally significant languages, practices, garments, etc. all in the sake of fulfilling their ‘one race: human’ fantasies.'” How would you say this lyric or song resists this “one race” / assimilation fantasy?

  2. I like how you brought up BTS because it definitely appeals to the younger generation, who are more exposed to pop culture than older ones. It was an immediate hook for me when I was browsing for QSRs to read. Simply because your post featured something that I previously have known about. Another part of your post that stood out was the video. I don’t think anyone else had a piece of media attached to their QSR, but you did, and it caught my eye, so good job that.
    I also liked your comment that although a song’s lyrics may not be understood, its meanings can be transmitted regardless. I have the same feeling sometimes when I hear music in another language. One example is “Despacito.” Although I didn’t understand a word, the song’s powerful, positive energy had immediate impact, and I couldn’t help but nod my head.

  3. “I’m the one I should love in this world.” I really enjoyed the significance of this quote in your text. There is a lot of similarities between Anzalduas story and yours; the connection of Language and identity. I’m familiar with BTS, I’m glad that your conclusion is that you should love yourself, your language and the identity it represents!

  4. Interesting point about song lyrics. When I listen to non-English songs I try to find literal translations because some words do not have English equivalents or a translator will try to phrase them as if they are typical English lyrics but the line by line meanings can be lost completely.

  5. I really like the reference you made to the BTS lyric. It definitely caught my attention and they way that you incorporated it into your essay was great! I liked how you talked about the use of multipule languages in one song and how, even though not everyryone speaks both languages, they still get the overall message.

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