When analyzing Gloria Anzaldua’s writing “How to Tame a Wild Tongue,” it is important to look at her background. She comes from a very diverse background; her parents were immigrants, she was born in south Texas, and she identifies herself as a Chicana feminist. The different discourse communities seen through her writing is the struggle she has between the different languages she has to adapt to around different people in her life. Writing from the borderlands between American, Mexican, Spanish, Indian, Chicano, and Mestiza culture, Anzaldua creates a representation of the wide range of forces within herself and the culture from which comes.
The excerpt opens up with her in the dentist office, and she is frustrated because the dentist is complaining that her tongue is “strong [and] stubborn”. She thinks to herself, “How do you tame a wild tongue, train it to be quiet…” (21). Despite the dentist not referring to her accent, she makes it obvious that her main problem is the way she speaks and how she has to constantly be consciously aware of how other people view her. Growing up around her family who only spoke Spanish made her run into some problems while attending school. “’If you want to be American, speak ‘American.’ If you don’t like it, go back to Mexico where you belong’” (Anzaldua 22). This created a constant battle between herself and her mother, as her mother only wanted her to speak Spanish. Throughout her whole excerpt, Anzaldua both shows and tells the importance of language to bother her culture and her identity.
She also vividly recounts the damage that can be done by the dominant culture through its attempts at copying and the centralizing the language to this process. She discusses the pain she has experienced because of being prohibited from, or ridiculed for, using her own language. She says, “if you really want to hurt me, talk badly about my language. Ethnic identity is twin skin to linguistic identity – I am my language” (27). What...
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