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“The Language is the road map of a culture”, which tells us where the people came from and where they are heading. The way an individual speaks, hears, and reads influences society by impacting an individual’s cultural identity. Language is an imperative tool that manages the cultural identity that his or her native language resembles. Language explains the unique qualities of an individual like values, customs, principles, faith and ideologies that operate as a medium to create a cultural community. Richard Rodriguez states, “There are two ways a person is individualized. So, they do not realize that while one suffers a diminished sense of private individuality by becoming assimilated into public society, such assimilation makes possible the achievement of public individuality. ” Private and Public individuality are directly related to language. An individual absorption into the cultural tradition of a population gives him/her a better understanding of the society. Therefore, this gives him/her an opportunity to prove his or her talent to the society. There are three different ways in which the language affects an individual: it creates boundaries between private and public life, it helps individuals recognize their identity, and it forces one to develop a public individuality. Language separates an individual’s public and private lives.
Rodriguez’s use of “Private Language” in the title refers to Spanish. In “Private and Public Language”, Rodriguez depicts private language as something greater than just a medium of communication. Rodriguez was from a close-knit family, and considered communication in his native language as a form of Communion. For instance, “Spanish seemed to me the language of home. ” Rodriguez’s language is a sacred bond understood and practiced by the people who speak it. Similarly, Cisneros in “An Offering to the Power of Language” considers her mother tongue, Spanish as a “language filled with affection and familiarity. ” Cisneros’ depiction of a Spanish word, “Mi’ja” in the beginning of the essay is considered of high emotional value to her. According to Cisneros’, this word “translates as “my daughter” and “a more accurate translation of “mi’ja” is, I love you. ” The use of this word in the beginning of the essay also attracts an emotional response from her because she was called by her late father by that name. Both Rodriguez and Cisneros felt attached to their native language, even if they suffered negative impacts. Tan in “Mother Tongue” felt highly ashamed of her mother’s poor English. For example, “I was ashamed of her English. I believed that her English reflected the quality of what she had to say. ” Initially, Amy Tan considered her mother’s English as “broken” or “fractured”. For instance, “I have described it to people as “broken” or “fractured” English. ” She thought that her mother’s “lack of intelligence” was responsible for her broken English. Tan describes her childhood struggles to cover up her mother’s weakness. Tan’s mother being very confident with her language skills, took the courage to ask the doctor about her reports. Unfortunately, she was asked to collect the reports next time which requires a new appointment. She was very depressed with the treatment met out to her by the hospital faculty. Therefore, she refused to leave until the doctor sorts her issue. Therefore, the doctor was forced to contact her daughter.
Eventually, Tan addressed the issue by communicating with the doctor in her proficient English and getting the reports released. Tan’s experience with private and public individuality through language was proven to be negative. An individuality is developed by a person’s struggle to create an identity. Rodriguez describes the moment he realizes he has an individual identity separate from his family identity. But Rodriguez eventually lost his family identity and gained a public identity as an American. For example, “At last, seven years old, I came to believe what had been technically true since my birth: I was an American citizen. ” Rodriguez was an author who gained a new identity with the loss of his intimacy of his family’s language. Similarly, Tan has also gained a new identity as an American author “I am a writer. I am not a scholar of English or literature. ” Tan being from a Chinese ethnicity depicted her past experiences with her mother’s English and its impact on her school life and future. Tan mentioned of her realization of difference in her English accent with her mother’s in terms of vocabulary and accent. Additionally, she has mentioned her struggles in her college life where she was forced to opt Mathematics and Sciences instead of English because the teachers considered the Asians to be poor in English. This motivated her to major in English. She mastered in the language by the adoption of “witty crafted sentences”. For instance, “That was my mental quandary in its nascent state. ” Eventually, she became a prominent English writer achieving her true individuality.
Language forces an individual to assimilate in society developing a public individuality. Tan in “Mother Tongue” describes her struggle to create her own identity, rather than use her mother’s identity. According to Tan, the most important factor behind her struggle is language. For instance, “I think my mother’s English almost had an effect on limiting my possibilities in life as well. ” Additionally, she was also discouraged with the general western assumption of the Asians as master’s in Mathematics and Science. This viewpoint kept on targeting her throughout her career. For example, “Why are there few Asian Americans enrolled in creative writing programs? Why do so many Chinese students go into engineering?” This was asked in her interview after becoming a writer. Similarly, Richard Rodriguez as an individual has also experienced similar problems with his own understanding of private and public life. For in “In public, my father and mother spoke a hesitant, accented, not always grammatical English. And they would have to stain – their bodies tense – to catch the sense of what was rapidly said by los gringos. ” Richard and his family considered themselves to belong to a private world, because of their cultural preservation. English language’s characteristic of being straight forward has frightened Richard’s family when they confronted with English language. This was very similar to the “los gringos”. Eventually, Rodriguez was able to successfully get absorbed into the public society by sacrificing his private individuality. Rodriguez strongly believes that English language’s bluntness was responsible for his sacrifice of his private individuality.
Each individual is educated about language in the earlier stages of his/her life. Language is considered something greater than a communication system. From the above stated examples from all the three texts, it is clearly portrayed that the all the three authors suffered from language issues but eventually succeeded in earning themselves an individual recognition, a strong public image or public individuality and in demolishing their language barriers.
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