The Connections Between Language & Culture | Anzaldua’s “How to Tame a Wild Tongue”

One of the most important activities of all individuals, living in a society, is the process of communication. Language is the most important constituent part of communication, as this is not purely a collection of words into sentences and ideas, this is also the expression of the person’s cultural and ethical background. It is absolutely not possible to separate language and culture; political, economic, ethical, geographical conditions are accumulated in language variations.

The connections between language and culture are profoundly studied in the writing by Gloria Anzaldua “How to Tame a Wild Tongue”, based on the experiences and difficulties of the Mexican immigrants, which they face upon arrival to the United States. The author relates such important social problems, as sexism, self-esteem, identity construction to the language, people choose to speak. Anzaldua provides rather innovative approach to the process of assimilation of cultures, stating that it is in reality violate and cruel, using the term “linguistic terrorism”. Another important issue, discussed by the author is the subjectivity of any language to social and cultural factors, which is directly related to the ways, how humans are able to influence the formation of their identity. This idea could be in a way compared to the assumptions of Baldwin, who stated in his writing  “If Black English isn’t a Language, Then Tell Me, What is?” that any language is developed and changed in case there is a social necessity for this. Amy Tan explores the alike problems in her short story “Mother Tongue”, discussing the role of a language as a sociological tool, which could be used to measuring of a person’s worth, not as simple communication means. Still the arguments, developed by Baldwin and Tan seem to be less wide and more specifically related to their personal attitudes.


Works cited:

Anzaldua, G. “How to Tame a Wild Tongue?” Borderland/ La Frontera: The New Mestiza. Second Edition. San Francisco: Aunt Lute, 1987

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