“How to Tame a Wild Tongue” Analysis Essay

Published: 2021-06-29 02:09:01
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Category: Literature

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Being bilingual is a talent that no one really recognizes. Often times when people immigrate to the United States they forget their culture and language because they try to assimilate into the American way of life. People don’t want to be left out or called out for being different. In Gloria Anzaldua’s “How to Tame a Wild Tongue”, Anzaldua argues that she is constantly being scrutinized because of her minority status and that her language is the true determinator of her ethnic identity. Anzaldua utilizes anecdotes, diction, and anaphora in order to properly lay out her conflict and frustration of being reprimanded as a human being because she is trying make her Chicano language recognized in globalized society.
Anzaldua uses anecdotes from her childhood in order to show the readers what she has been through solely because of her use of improper language. In the beginning of the story she tells us about an experience that she had with the dentist. “We’re going to have to do something about your tongue… I’ve never seen anything as strong or as stubborn” (Anzaldua 34). In this, the dentist is talking to Gloria in a very weird and unprofessional way and is almost berating her for lacking proper intellectual skills.
This shows that he is trying to tell Gloria that she’s different from others. Another experience that Gloria talks about is at school. She is expected to an obedient child and speak only the right language like all the other students in her school. “I remember being caught speaking Spanish at recess- that was good for three licks on the knuckles with a sharp ruler… At Pan American University, I and all the Chicano students were required to take two speech classes. Their purpose, to get rid of our accents” (Anzaldua 35). Gloria is telling her audience that according to society, speaking Spanish was a sin and that you were only supposed to speak English to communicate with everyone.
Anzaldua also uses unique diction to refuse the idea of rejecting her culture for others. Switching back and forth from English to Spanish, she cleverly uses this diction to establish ethos with the reader. She makes the reader think about her situation at the time when growing up in America, not knowing every English word she read or heard. It makes the reader feel rather awkward for not knowing what the Spanish words mean. Gloria Anzaldua also incorporates words used in her native tongue to provide the reader with examples of her Chicano culture. “Chicanos, after 250 years of Spanish/Anglo colonization, have developed significant differences in the Spanish we speak.
We collapse two adjacent vowels into a single syllable in certain words such as maíz/maiz, cohete/cuete. We leave out consonants appearing between vowels such as lado/lao and mojado/mojao” (38). In their native tongue, they also used words from English that almost sound the same so people that spoke Spanish could adapt to words that were from English decent. They are words like “bola from ball, carpeta for carpet and machina de lavar (instead of using lavadora­) for washing machine.” (38) Anzaldua uses this to show how chicanos use their form of language and their typical culture of a Mexican-American to emphasize her native tongue and a way of speaking as well as communicating with their own racial group.
Finally, Anzaldua utilizes anaphora to emphasize and strengthen her argument. “Until I can take pride in my language… Until I can accept as legitimate Chicano Texas Spanish, Tex Mex, and all other languages I speak… Until I am free to write bilingually and to switch codes without always having to translate.. my tongue will be illegitimate” (40). Her tone changes from demanding and criticizing to hopefulness within a matter of a few paragraphs in her text. She wants change to happen and she wants it fast but she is optimistic that we can get there someday. “We are your linguistic nightmare, you linguistic aberration, your linguistic mestisaje, the subject of your burla” (39). Gloria Anzaldua purposely asserts the idea that language is central to ethnic identity and uses anaphora to make her argument stand.
In conclusion, language is a person’s key identity. It unites and helps various types of humans connect with one another. Language is valuable and it’s up to each individual to determine what and how they speak. You should not allow anyone to dictate what is right and wrong in your life. In her work, Gloria Anzaldua encourages minority people not to be discouraged and instead accept the fact that they are different and special than others. Anzaldua also makes an attempt to convey the audience to understand the fact that some people might speak differently, and that American citizens have to change their mindset towards diversity. According to her beliefs, we should accept each other’s differences and keep progressing as a country in order to maintain community between each other.

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