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Language and Culture Defining One’s Identity “How To Tame a Wild Tongue”

Culture and language are some of the things that are adversely affected when one moves or immigrates to another country. Despite being attacked as well as criticized due to her culture, the author of this article refuted to let others force her to discard her culture since it defines her sense of belonging. Anzaldua lets the people, particularly Latinos and Americans, that she totally appreciates her culture and is ready to persevere while protecting her identity. Through her writing, the author invites the targeted audience to be aware of the importance of recognizing her language as well as heritage since they define her and her source of origin.

Culture means everything in anyone’s life, and cultural loss has been associated with effects like reduced social cohesion while others develop mental health challenges. Therefore, to a greater extent, Anzaldua relies on things like pathos to depict the reality concerning her culture and what it means in her life. In this case, the author provides the personal experience of when she was taken to the classroom’s corner for “talking back” (p.358) to her instructor after informing the teacher how to pronounce her name correctly (Anzaldúa, 1987). In her article, there is a section called “Overcoming the Tradition Silence” (p. 358) she provides the internal part of her culture and some of the challenges caused by her language. Defending your culture is not a walk in the park, and in this scenario, Anzaldua stated that her teacher informed her to either speak American, and if she cannot, she needs to go back to Mexico and speak Spanish. “If you want to be American, speak ‘American.’ If you don’t like it, go back to Mexico where you belong”(p. 357).

In the section, she illustrates how the language is in male discourse, especially how a word may have different spelling but the same meaning and used by different groups of people. In the text, the author states, “The first time I heard two women, a Puerto Rican and a Cuban, say the word “Nosotros, “I was shocked. I had not known the word existed. Chicanas use Nosotros whether we’re male or female” (p.358).

Further, Anzaldua depicts diverse scenarios from her point of view, showcasing to the readers what one goes through when living as a Chicano in a different culture. Code-switching between the foreign language and her mother tongue, Spanish, is very challenging, and she relies on ethos to help the audience understand her concerns. In this case, she tries to let the audience imagine how hard it is to group in America and not very conversant with the English language. Using ethos, the author can express her emotions when she asserts that if someone wishes to hurt her, they should share the negative side of her language.

The author has also used border land’s analogy, to sum up her argument concerning the oppression whereby the people did not come from a single origin and their new identity is being interfered with. Through logic, Anzaldua’s choice the middlemen had when she stated that individuals who cannot identify with a certain culture like Anglo-American or Mexican cultural values are left without any recourse but forced to develop their own language. According to the author, overlapping culture is one thing that makes people lose their culture.

Despite challenges and intimidation from the dominating culture, the author stands very strong for defending her culture and persuading the readers of some of the things that need to be executed and not give up on her on what one belief in. she maintains things like accent claiming that accent is one of the means of identifying people (Anzaldúa, 1987). However, her accent is a big issue since it brings trouble while interacting with other people in the community. Anzaldua complains about the dentist who claimed that her tongue is tenacious and strong. The doctor’s comments frustrated her and asserted that it is very difficult to tame a tongue, and it can only be cut down.

From her narration, stereotyping discourages and undermines her culture, and language is the most targeted thing. The people she interacts with want to her stop using that language and instead embrace the American language. Therefore, how other people in the foreign country attack, she ends up quite agitated and unhappy. As a Chicano, she deprived her basic rights of life, and people like her receive low standard education while those in school are denied the chance to speak their native language.

Although any society is quite diversified, everyone has a diversified role in society. However, society has been defining what one will do and how to live. The dominating group has been defining people’s identity, and those who decide to live a different life perceive her as an enemy, just like how Anzaldua has been treated. Language is one of the main things targeted by dominating groups and not all people can defend their culture like Anzaldua.


Anzaldúa, G. (1987). How to tame a wild tongue. University of Pittsburgh Press. (2001).


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