Language James Baldwin Analysis

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Language is a truly unique thing since everyone utilizes it differently allowing people to show who they are. When I was in the sixth grade, I attended a summer camp where many of the campers were from Tennessee. Living in Alabama, I believed that I had a southern accent, but these campers made my accent seem nonexistent. Many people have stories like this one where they sound different or used different words than the people that they are speaking with at the time. In James Baldwin’s essay, he discussed how various ways of speaking show one’s heritage and affect one’s life. His essay from 1979 is still true today based how language affects political powers, the distrust of others, as well as showing a person’s past. Throughout time, influential …show more content…
Baldwin makes a valid point in the discussion of dialects when he describes language as a “crucial key to identity.” Each area of any large country has a separate dialect as shown when people in the northern section of the the United States say pop instead of soda like in the south. Baldwin make a similar point, “England coherent for the English and totally incomprehensible for everyone else.” In England, they speak the same language as the United States, but they use some words in different ways and have a completely different accent. When listening to a person, it will become apparent where they are from. An example of this is the book, Pygmalion, where Eliza’s cockney speech labels her as poor, but she is taught to speak in an upper class accent. However, she never quite learns which topics she can and cannot speak about. This is a great example of how your past will always define your language even if you learn how to speak with a different accent. Baldwin claims that when you speak “you have confessed your parents, your youth, your school, your salary, your self esteem, and, alas, your future.” The way a person speaks identifies their past by showing where they grew up and where they have …show more content…
Such as in the Doctor Who episode, “The Snowmen” where one character switched between an upper class accent and a cockney accent throughout the episode. If an actors can change their voices, then is language really a defining factor in our identities? Not only can people change their accents, but people can use different languages as well. Young hispanic children learn to speak only in English during the school day, yet they seamlessly switch to Spanish as soon as they arrive home. If elementary aged children can easily make this switch then everyone can change their language. If following these points alone, then it would appear that language is not as important to identity as Baldwin might lead one to

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