I found it very interesting to see the translation of Walker's prose into Standard American English. The passage was generally much easier to read not because of standardization process but because of the translation process. We get the phrase "lost in translation." So, what is lost in this translated piece of fiction? The characters get lost in the changing of the words. I wonder if the Jordan's students were not put off by the difficulty of these opening lines and not so much the deviation from standard English. Making meaning for one's self is difficult here. Who is talking? Who or what is Luscious? Who is Fonso? The translation leads the readers by their noses to a fixed point of meaning. The language is frozen and in no way connected to its characters. So, Jordan sees a bit of this in her student, Willie Jordan, with his "unnatural formality in language (315).
I am reminded of a Michelle Shocked song called "Graffiti Limbo." It is about a young black graffiti artist named Michael Stewart who was arrested while writing graffiti on a subway wall. In the presence of 11 transit cops he was strangled to death. No cop was found guilty of this murder because the coroner lost the evidence. And in a strangulation case, body parts needed in a strangulation autopsy case are the eyeballs. The coroner lost Michael Stewart's eyeballs.
Willie Jordan's essay at the end of this article was so powerful and wrenching. He writes that "justice may only exist as rhetoric." And for all the sadness and difficulty of his situation, he is still a hopeful person.
It seems that the world is an impossible place at times where people are asked to write when severed from their language!
I enjoyed Gloria Anazaldua's essay "How to Tame a Wild Tongue." You get this sense of vibrancy and wonder that is induced by owning and loving your language. I see much the problem of difference. How do people handle differences in pronunciation, in skin color, size and shape, in beliefs, in class and status? At the end of her essay, Anzaldua writes about the enduring and malleable nature of her language. I can feel her pride in her difference. She wears it well.
end of chimene's response
<<<<<<< '+Mike Brown's Week 9 Reading Response
As I was reading through the Conference on College Composition and Communication, I understand the stance that is being made. Having grown up on the Gulf Coast in Mississippi, and then marrying into a family of Cajuns from Louisiana, I do understand that people speak with a variety of dialects based on their upbringing. These differences in dialect are a result of many things such as where a person is raised, the language that he or she is exposed to when they were growing up, and others. After leaving home at eighteen, I served in the military for twenty years. During these twenty years, I was definitely exposed to pretty much any dialect one can think of including people from New England (very distinctive), the South (also distinctive), to service members from other countries. The point I am trying to make is that even though there was some serious differences in dialect, I could, for the most part, understand what was being spoken. Back to the article. I read this piece as if it were written with a Marxist theme. To me, the part we had to read was trying to say that the differences in dialect is based on class…or the separation of class. (At least that is what I got from it). I do not agree with this as a whole. I do understand the point that is being made; however, I do not think it is that easy to separate.
Gloria Anzaldua’s writing is full of feeling and is also very moving. The essay is about her refusal to eliminate her own heritage simply for the sake of belonging in America. She chooses to use some intense imagery to have an effect on her readers. I felt this was a very effectual method and allowed me as a reader to get more in tune with the writing. One problem that I did have was when she would drop some Spanish into the essay and then not translate it. However, I do understand there is a specific reason for this method of writing…to get a point across. Nonetheless, one problem that I have is that it is easy to be all politically correct and agree with these sentiments. The bottom line is that in order to get a job in this country, there is a certain way that a person has to write and talk. I am saying this because it is reality. I always laugh at some college kids who think that they know and understand how life works…while living at home with their mommies and daddies paying for everything. As far as the essay written by June Jordan, I have a number of difficulties with the overall theme. It brings me back Ebonics that happened in California. I think that it is ridiculous to decide to make somebody's slang into some new form of language. Next, are we going to change the spelling of words because some people cannot spell certain words properly? My wife's family is Cajun…they speak English (well, redneck English) until they start imbibing … then some thick accents start that I have never previously heard spoken. Well, now I am just starting to rant…+'
This week’s readings connect to the heart of my research topic for this semester: should we teach Basic Writing students (and all students of writing) academic literacy? While academic literacy encompasses more than the language that students are communicating in, the argument for language rights applies to the argument for literacy rights – and for students gaining a critical understanding of their multiliteracies.
The CCCC Students’ Right to Their Own Language statement in 1971 and the subsequent background report from 1974 addresses the complex issue of requiring college students to learn (and demonstrate) “standard English,” “English of Educated Speakers,” or “educated English” (p. 2). June Jordan (1985) refers to this American standard of English as “White English,” arguing that, although the U.S. is a multicultural and diverse nation, “white standards of English persist, supreme and unquestioned,… white standards control our official and popular judgments of verbal proficiency and correct, or incorrect, language skills, including speech” (p. 313). Teaching students a standard form/variation of English is problematic because it elevates certain economic, social, and political sectors of society over others. The CCCC statement highlights this inequality, pointing out “the result is that students who come from backgrounds where the prestigious variety of English is the normal medium of communication have built-in advantages that enable them to succeed” (p. 4). As composition instructors, critical of our own literacies and the systems that we are a part of, we must be cognizant of what we are teaching when we teach students academic literacy.
Gloria Anzaldua (1987), similar to June Jordan and the African American students she discusses in her article, feels alienated by languages that are not her own and by those who judge and demean her languages. The introduction to this essay makes connections between the Borderlands expressed in Anzaldua’s writing and the diverse cultural spaces we encounter in our classrooms. Anzaldua (1987) defensively states, “Attacks on one’s form of expression with the intent to censor are a violation of the First Amendment” (p. 302). Anzaldua’s statement connects to and complicates the section in the CCCC’s statement, addressing “Language Varieties, Linguistic Profiling, Housing, Civil Rights, and Employability” (p. 22). If we do not teach students this “correct” or “acceptable form,” if we gloss over the rules and systems that govern their use, we do our students a severe disservice – not only in their education, but also in the potential of their futures.
The statement emphasizes what many composition teachers fear most: the language and unique/individual representations of genres/academic literacy he/she is teaching, fostering, and rewarding in their classroom will fall short of the expectations that face these students in the professional world; thereby leaving these students to fail or be rejected. The CCCC statement explains, “Unfortunately, many employers have narrowly conceived notions of the relationship between linguistic performance and job competence. Many employers expect a person whom they consider for employment to speak whatever variety of American English the employers speak, or believe they speak” (p. 22). Therefore, even if the entire field of composition instructors changes their standards – hell, the whole academic world! – the professional society that students are required to enter into (their professional discourse community that will, ultimately, put dinner on the table) may still judge, negate, or deny their language proficiency/literacy/language usage – cultural literacy.
This statement (written in 1974!) does mention that this state of language inequality in the professional world was changing – I would like to believe that it has; however, we continue to teach this standard of English within the academic discourse community. The CCCC’s statement does urge an important suggestion that remains applicable in the 21st century classroom, arguing, “Teachers should stress the difference between the spoken forms of English and the EAE because a clear understanding will enable both teachers and students to focus their attention on essential items” (p. 23). The statement also emphasized the importance of teaching students rhetorical concepts as a means of empowering them, enabling them to understand why and when to employ which written (or spoken) languages.
Teaching students to be critical of their multiliteracies is key – this is what I am exploring in my research this semester.
Kohut response 10/25
Both of the readings were relevant to me today as I am becoming more and more familiar, but not comfortable with, the idea that I may not be teaching what is truly the best things to all of my students based on their ethnicity and background versus my ethnicity and background. This becomes somewhat of a universal question-type-thing for me as I ponder whether or not I can really ever teach my students something truly objective and whether the choices Id o have about my curriculum aren’t answered by me from some subconscious place within me where I feel like all kids would be better off if they learned the way I did or what I did or etc., etc.
I think that I can actually incorporate the familia writing strategy in my classroom and do it within the confines that have been strapped on my back this school year. The reasoning behind it is sound to me its focus on creating a safe community for writing and discussing writing. This reminds me of the Shaughnessy piece about reading and writing being ties together. When you read aloud I also think that you take real ownership of your piece because you are saying what you wrote on paper out loud to another person or persons. How very interesting that this works for the reader and the listeners in such different but ultimately helpful ways.
The piece about the wild tongue was also interesting, especially because she left certain words or what think must be important parts of her point written in Spanish or one of the other varieties of her language. I think it is great that she is so self-aware when it comes to her own language and her uses of it in different contexts, with different people and for different purposes. I wonder why some of what she said stayed written in her native tongue, but maybe that is the point: she knows people will question it and say, “That should be written in English!” But whose English? And why? They are her words and making other people realize that is the point. If you don’t realize it, than there is no reason to go on reading the essay because the outcry for pride and respect for her language is falling on the ears of an unconcerned audience. That is my feeling about that.
Finally, I really enjoyed the essay about Black English and Willie Jordan. Maybe saying I enjoyed it is too much, but it definitely affected me. I hate situations where I am utterly powerless and I must watch someone do something that is not right and get away with it. I could completely empathize with his frustrations; although my situation was not as grave as what happened to his brother.
I love that as they began really taking control of the language they used it for a purpose. This was not just a trivial learning of a syntactic new form of language for the sake of learning it. Learning it was about speaking fully as yourself and presenting something that is part of your heritage so that it is not meant as error, but a true form of communication.
Kohut End. _____
What we’re talking about here is language. Language is a tool to communicate. But human beings inflect their language in ways that correlate to their cultural identity. Anzaldua writes about how music, a viable form of communication in its own right, has gone through an inflectual change. Mexican polka music is derived from German polka music which is derived from Bohemian music. But within each cultural stopover, a visceral exchange of human communication inflects the medium in a beautiful variant manner. It would be boring and self-subjugating to kowtow to the standard, which is really not a standard anyway. Language works in the same manner. The English language comes from England. The English language makes stopovers in many different cultures and these cultural exchanges can create new and exciting variations of the English language. Well, I’m excited and I don’t give a damn what the English-only louts claim about the standard that must be kept. If that’s the way a certain consensus want to speak their type of English, then inflect the language in your own manner. There is no need to push standards and ideals of language on a person’s agency to speak and communicate in their own manner.
Anzaldua shows how to play with language. Language is supposed to be who we are. Language is intrinsic to human agency. Not only students, but human beings have a right to speak their own language in their own way. U.S,. citizens are expected to speak standard English, but not all U.S. citizens are raised speaking one language in their home. This language contact zone begins to change the way English is spoken, but also the way the other language is spoken also. It works both ways. A hybrid version of this amalgamated language is born. A badass mothafuckin language. One that should not be stopped, hindered, or suppressed. Yes, we will learn English, but we will also manipulate it with our homeslice filter so you overzealous English language supremists become angered when we fill your words with our own visceral inflection.
Willie Jordan, this mothafuckin section be for you. You showed how no matter how cultural people speak, people can still produce a grammatically well done essay in standard English. Not all people are capable of this. Language is a powerful communicative tool. Used in various rhetorical manners, it can convey messages far stronger than what they are actually saying. Underlying Willie’s final written words is the notion that human beings have the capabilities and agency to manipulate and navigate two languages, two different variants of communication. You pull it off with big mothafuckin middle finger up they ass.
end of ed's response