Untamable or Culturally Modified?

Reading this at first was kind of confusing to me. The combination of Spanish and English dialect always throws me off. I guess we are so pampered as American readers that when we read something that freely switches in between languages, we get confused. It may be difficult to understand at points but I think the effect is worth the difficulty of wrestling through the language the reader has difficulty with. For example, in the beginning when Anzaldńa starts first with the example of her “stubborn” and “wild” tongue and the dentist, she strategically does this. She sets the tone for what she is trying to convey in her message. After the dentist example, she then starts flowing her writing in and out of different languages and dialects. She when she claims “wild tongues can’t be tamed, they can only be cut out”, she is “arguing for the ways in which identity is intertwined with the way we speak and for the ways in which people can be made to feel ashamed of their own tongues”. When she keeps her tongue wild, she is “ignoring the closing of linguistic borders” and is her way of asserting her identity. She makes it clear throughout the text that her identity is made up of her language and culture, as that is driven by power within the society. As her “ethnic identity is twin skin to linguistic identity”, she proudly claims, “I am my language”. Then she goes on to even say that she can’t take pride in herself unless she takes pride in her language. This is hard to understand because as Americans we don’t generally think we take pride in our language, but surprisingly we do. For example, if a person from the South went to some place in the North, both people would make fun of each other’s accents. This is taking pride in our languages. These languages are a part of our Discourses, just like the Chicanos. Being a part of a certain Discourse includes knowing how to properly use the language associated with the little “discourses” within the Big Discourse. She is “70-80%” Indian yet she identifies with being a Mexican as she repeatedly uses the word “our” when describing that “deep in our hearts we believe that being Mexican has nothing to do with which county one lives in”, but the “state of soul”. Although as a culture, when trying to cop out they refer to themselves as Spanish. “This voluntary (yet forced) alienation makes for psychological conflict, a kind or dual identity-we don’t identity with Anglo- American cultural values and we don’t totally identify with the Mexican cultural values”. This statement is really powerful for me. It describes the inner conflict the Chicano people face. They must modify their language and cultural values to fit a certain category, more like just trying to be accepted. This is even played out when Anzaldńa is almost fired for wanting to teach her students with “works by Chicanos” instead of tradition “American literature”. Even while working toward a PH.D., she had to argue her case before she was allowed to make Chicano literature an area of focus. They are stuck between trying to decide whether to modify their Discourse or stick it out and accept it. I guess it is easier said than done because the “struggle of identities” and the “struggle of borders” continue. It is relieving when Anzaldńa feels like the Chicanos “really existed as a people” after reading her first Chicano novel. Although the struggles are far from resolved, literacy helped Anzaldńa form a foundation that she could start identifying herself as a Chicano.

HowtoTameaWildTongue_Reading Notes

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