Coming Into Language

Topics: Linguistics, Prison, Writing Pages: 3 (1071 words) Published: July 4, 2012
Coming into Language
“There is more pleasure to building castles in the air than on the ground.” This quote by Edward Gibbon illustrates the intensity of writing and what gratification it can hold. When one writes, they are not confined to one certain formula. A person is able to express their thoughts and feelings in any way they choose. Language is a border for many people in that some cannot comprehend a certain language, understand how to use it, or recognize what is being said to them. On the other side of the border, they are not viewed as equals or as important compared to those who are not competing with this barrier. In his essay “Coming into Language,” Jimmy Santiago Baca uses his personal experiences to demonstrate how much crossing the border of language can change a person and show them new ways of expressing themselves. Baca tells the reader about how his life was before he learned how to read and write in order to show how it made a big difference later on during his confinement. He had felt like there was something absent in his life. He expresses how it made him feel when people would question him on not knowing how to read or write when he says, “There was nothing so humiliating as being unable to express myself, and my inarticulateness increased my sense of jeopardy, of being endangered” (Baca 53). He understood that not knowing how to read and write was a great disadvantage towards him and made him seem less significant in the eyes of others. He was confined within one side of the border and could not be creative and express himself using language. In describing how it felt up until the moment he first started reading, he says it was “as if he had been born into a raging ocean where [he] swam relentlessly, flailing [his] arms in hope of rescue…” (Baca 54). Until this point when he first read, he felt as if he was lost and very far away from crossing the border of language and feeling complete. It was as though he was just passing through life...

Cited: Baca, Jimmy S. "Coming into Language." Writing as Revision. 4th ed. Eds, Beth Alvarado and Barbara Cully, Boston: Pearson, 2011. 52-57. Print.
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