How to Tame a Wild Tongue

Topics: English language, Spanish language, United States Pages: 5 (1952 words) Published: December 15, 2008
“My Perspective of a Wild Tongue”
“How to Tame a Wild Tongue”, by Gloria Anzaldua, is a very expressive story about a Mexican American women’s struggle to preserve her culture. Her main fight revolves around a struggle to keep a form of Spanish, called “Chicano Spanish”, a live. In the short story she says, " for a people who cannot entirely identify with either standard (formal, Castilian) Spanish, or standard English, what recourse is left to them but to create their own language?"(page 55). She is stating that despite what the societies both Mexican and American want her to do she will not concede defeat. The American Society would like her to speak proper English, while the Mexican Society wishes she would speak proper Castillian. With both pressures bearing down upon her and her counterparts their only solution, in their eyes is to form their own language. That language becomes known as Chicano Mexican, which is basically a mix of everything she has been taught by both societies.

It is not easy for any immigrant to assimilate to a new home. Most would say that Gloria is not an immigrant because she was born is the south of Texas. My interpretation of an immigrant is not geographical but cultural. She may have been born in the United States but she was raised in a classic Mexican culture, and was forced into a strict American society. Neither of the cultures were and still aren’t willing to change. There are many difficulties to overcome, the weather, food, sports, recognized religions, clothing, and most difficult of all language. Any immigrant who comes to America whose native tongue is not English will appear to Americans as if they are an outsider. Even though Gloria was technically born in America she is still an immigrant. She is an immigrant to American culture. She was born into a Mexican family in America. Gloria had to immigrate into American society. The American Society wanted her to speak proper English without a Mexican accent. Gloria loved speaking Spanish and never made any steps towards changing her predominant language until she was " sent to the corner of the classroom ‘for talking back to the Anglo teacher when all [she] was trying to do was tell [the teacher] how to pronounce [her] name. ‘If you want to be American, speak American.' If you don't like it, go back to Mexico where you belong."(page. 54). At that moment her struggles had begun. Most Americans have the ignorant assumption that if you live here then you must speak English. In her story she explains her disobedience against assimilation. In turn she forms a new way of life by switching between the two cultures. In doing so Gloria creates a new culture but at the same time refrains from losing her old life style. She simply incorporates the old with the new. A society's language or speech pattern cannot be easily influenced considering the fact that the society in question is still in their own territory. She calls it a secret language because only Chicano's can comprehend the dialect of what is being spoken, and with that she feels sense of pride in herself. Once a society is taken away from its territory it will, involuntarily, become heavily influenced if not completely changed when it comes to their language and culture despite how proud they are. In this case Gloria Anzaldua does not completely abandon her old culture but instead is forced to change but in doing so she still fought to keep her past with her. All that she wanted to do was be free to use her native tongue to create what she calls a "linguistic identity"(page 58), but since she was not aloud to do so she created a whole new identity, “Chicano”.

No matter where she went or how Americanized she may have been inclined to become, the Chicano language was her way of maintaining the Chicano life. Anzaldua spoke of identity, she was not ashamed of being Chicano, and in fact she was proud. Gloria felt that her Chicano language, no matter how diverse it was from...
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