Posts Tagged ‘language’
Growing up I was raised in a cultural environment that had very few people from my ethnicity; instead I was a black sheep in a herd of white sheep. Being that I experienced this, I was able to feel and see a loss of culture that overtakes an individual’s identity and heart. This happens particularly in the youth or those individuals who are part of the 1st or 2nd generations to be born in America. From this, I, like many other individuals, was presented with two choices. The two choices were to identify with our native language and cultural background, or lose our culture and shape our personal identity around the dominant language in the country that is Standard American English (SAE). This situation is becoming problematic and should be addressed not only by communities but also by the academic realm because if this situation continues to happen then the “melting pot” that American is known to be will cease to exist. Schools should also address this problem being that the domination of English in school especially is causing a lack of programs designed for those individuals who do not speak English fluently to be scarce.
The United States has often been called “the nation of immigrants” and “the melting pot of cultures.” Americans consider themselves members of a diverse and welcoming culture and pride themselves on that fact. National holidays celebrate the efforts of civil rights leaders and the national anthem praises the “land of the free.” However, when considering immigration laws, one could say that the United States is not as free, diverse nor as welcoming as it may appear. This is evident in how quickly “foreigners” are strongly encouraged, if not socially forced, to assimilate to American culture. For example, consider how third-generation immigrants rarely speak the language of their heritage (Gort 32). Through society and the education system, the United States is actually undermining diversity rather than promoting it. This is to ensure the success of what Etienne Balibar calls “the nation form,” which depends on establishing the uniformity of all people of the nation. By examining the works of Antonia Darder and Mileidis Gort we shall explore how the current nation form is threatened by bilingual education and a bicultural society.
2003-04 Winner: “Constructing Knowledge: The Role of Human Limitations in Scientific Reasoning” by Katherine Liu
Humans have always relished organizing the world into neat and definite quantities, to which they can easily relate. It is a pursuit that has consumed man throughout the ages. Modern scientists feverishly search for the governing laws of the universe, just as Chinese scholars once scanned the stars, and Greek philosophers debated the meaning of life. Science is born out of speculation and observation. It provides a means for mankind to grasp at the divine, and explain the inexplicable. Like an artist molds a work of art from a formless wedge of clay, so science seeks to press the universe into quantitative models. These models reflect the complex interactions within nature, as the artist’s sculpture attempts to embody emotion. However, no artist possesses the skill to define ‘devotion’ or ‘grief into physical depiction. An artist is limited by the nature of the medium, and the complexity of the concept. The emotion is too intricate, and although it may be copied, it can never be fully replicated. It follows that in this way no scientific model can be completely accurate. A model is simply “an object of imitation . . . an idealized description or conception of a particular system” (Oxford). Science is built upon the strength of its models in approximating the universe. So although science may provide a good representation of the way things are, it provides nothing more, and may not be taken as an absolute. Models are applied to the world in attempts to understand it. Sir Isaac Newton utilized models in his attempt to understand the complicated concept of gravity. He took the force and described it simply and concisely, in a way we as humans could understand. Yet it eventually fell short of describing the full properties of the force, and it has been long since replaced.
In her essay, “Arts of the Contact Zone,” Mary Louise Pratt defines the contact zone as “[ . . . ] social spaces where cultures meet, clash, and grapple with each other, often in contexts of highly asymmetrical power [ . . . ]” (Pratt 575). It can be a dangerous place, where people are easily misunderstood and hurt. It can also be a place of mutual understanding, new wisdom, and the wonder that comes when people learn from each other. Because the contact zone is so unpredictable, Pratt also talks about the need for places where people can retreat from the contact zone and feel safe. She calls these places “safe houses” and uses the term to “[ . . . ] refer to social and intellectual spaces where groups can constitute themselves as horizontal, homogeneous, sovereign communities with high degrees of trust, shared understandings, temporary protection from legacies of oppression” (Pratt 586). However, this idea of “safe houses” is not unique to Pratt. Gloria Anzaldúa is an American Chicano writer, whose essay, “How to Tame a Wild Tongue,” also implies the need for places of shared understanding. Anzaldúa and Pratt both recognize the need for safe houses. However, Pratt believes that they can be formed inherently within a culture, and so fails to recognize their complexities, where as, Anzaldúa takes these complexities into account, and would argue that a common cultural heritage does not inherently create a safe house.
In the past and to this day, the Indian culture has been under the constant influence of the western world. This influence that was first welcomed is now slowly but surely becoming a threat to the survival of the Indian cultural beliefs. The magnitude of this influence encompasses from the entertainment industry to traditional family values. Some Indians call this influence an unwanted change and term it as a cultural genocide. They believe with the introduction of this genocide our rich ancient culture is at stake. Mary Louise Pratt, author of the article “Arts of the Contact Zone,” terms the process by which this unwanted change is introduced in a culture as a “contact zone.” She defines this term as [ . . . ] “social spaces where cultures meet, clash, and grapple with each other, often in contexts of highly asymmetrical relations of power” [ . . . ] (Pratt 575). This social space created by the clash of two or more cultures tends to engulf the subordinate culture by the culture in authority and dominance, leaving the subordinate culture vulnerable to extinction. I fear the extinction of these subordinate cultures and believe that the contact zone in India enables the dominant Western culture to diminish and inhibit the growth of traditional Indian and other minority cultures.
My paper argues of the presence of the culture of power that Standard English possesses in our American Society and how hazardous it is to our ethnic backgrounds individually and nationally. My paper is brimming with personal experiences (mine and others), italicized words, slang usage, and questions, which are all disliked by the culture of power and goes against what I was taught a superb argumentative essay should look like. My methods are used to ask you to realize some aspects in life that we take for granted and accept as the “truth,” also it is used to keep my argument flowing relating some of the questions to the next set of facts. I intentionally broke the rules to prove a point that superb papers can still exist with the absence of obedience to the rules of English and grammar. In a way, it is my way of protesting against and lessens the power of Standard English in my writing and in my “voice.”
- 2011-2012 i.e. Winner: “The impact of tangible evidence” by Rebecca Eskildsen
- 2011-2012 Winner: “A Virtual Exchange of Basketball Culture” by Ameen Tabatabai
- Read-Around Groups
- Rhetorical Peer Review
- 2010-11 i.e. Winner: “That’s So Ghetto!” by Pat Origenes
- January 2013
- October 2012
- March 2012
- February 2012
- May 2011
- April 2011
- March 2011
- November 2010
- September 2010
- August 2010
- June 2010
- May 2010
- April 2010
- April 2009
- May 2008
- February 2007
- September 2005
- July 2004
- July 2003
- Department of English @ UW
- Expository Writing Program (EWP) @ UW
- Odegaard Writing & Research Center (OWRC)
- University of Washington Libraries