‘’’Anzaldua’’’ I always feel conflicted after reading Anzaldua. Her writing is designed to provoke a reaction, whether that reaction is positive or negative is beside the point, and this is about where I fall. I can’t decide if I support her, or if I feel targeted by her.
The part of her argument that I support, and strongly support at that, is the idea that certain languages, or dialects (as referenced in the CCCC article), are traditionally labeled as marginal or somehow less correct by those who are in power. In Anzaldua’s case, almost everyone in the Western hemisphere is called to answer for his or her linguistic crimes, with the exception of the native Indian population, who for all intents and purposes, she labels as victim. The primary culprits named are the Spanish and English imperialists, who brought with them their own languages and engaged in the eradication of the native tongue as part of their conquest. This prompted the existing population to hybridize their own language, in an attempt to coexist with the ruling population. This shift in language was a shift that was forced, but as the physical borders between countries and populations changed over time, the language surrounding these borders changed again. Now, instead of two “pure” languages and one hybridization, there are a number of variations that are incredibly intricate in their construction and usage.
These constructs, Anzaldua argues, represent a “living language”(303), and a continual shift in culture and the constraints imposed upon it. I do find this idea of describing language as a shifting thing incredibly relevant because the impossibility of preserving such a fluid construct cannot be overstated. The evolution of language is truly Darwinian; a constant struggle playing out in both the political and academic arena. Even the idea that geographical barriers can contain language is a replication of one of Darwin’s theories. So, if we can believe that language evolves, then what real hope is there of creating a standard OR maintaining a tradition?
I suppose my conflict lies in the impossibility of the goal that Anzaldua suggests, that she will walk over the ashes of standard English, and that in some way, her own language will remain unchanged. This defies the very principles that she discussed when addressing the history of her languages, whether it be the Pachuco that she has forgotten because she has no one to converse with, or the English that she speaks with her Chicana friends in an effort to avoid calling attention to the potential gaps between their individual brands of the language, the one thing that Anzaldua does prove is that change is inevitable.
On the other hand, I must admit that I am incredibly jealous from a linguistic perspective, as I read about the complexity and the history that comes with Anzaldua’s voice. I feel a complete disconnect between my own heritage and language because I truly am “American” in the sense that all I know of my family exists within it’s history in the United States. There are no traditions, customs or languages that hold true from our former country of origin. The closest I come to Germany is watching Inglorious Basterds and drinking a Heineken from time to time. We have truly been absorbed into the American culture of conformity. I will not say that I do not benefit from this process; I am able to avoid many of the linguistic pitfalls discussed in the other artic