The Language Of Discretion, And From Outside In By Barbara Mellix

1410 Words 6 Pages
Language has the power to connect people to their culture, history, and to other people, but language can also isolate a person and make them feel like an outsider to their own culture and family, or can make them feel foreign in their own tongue. Language can also empower a person in ways that will make him or her feel like they can control his or her own destiny. All of theses ideas are explored in The Language of Discretion by Amy Tan and in From Outside In by Barbara Mellix. Both Tan and Mellix feel like outsiders in the language each one uses, find a danger and excitement in knowledge and learning, and find a way to fit in with their respective languages. Barbara Mellix grew up surrounded by black english while her parents and teachers …show more content…
Mellix learns that continuing her adventure with words does not mean she has to leave black english behind, and Tan finds a place in between her two languages. Mellix has found that seeking out knowledge is an endless journey and that she will have endless chances to re meet herself after each lesson, but that does not mean she will never use what she started out with again. It just means that she has gained enough knowledge to want to know and learn more. Mellix has learned that knowledge equals power and with that power she can take responsibility for herself and her life, and while she can never go back to having no control over what happens to her. Learning the secrets of language has allowed for Mellix to switch between standard english and black english easily, because Mellix will still slip into her black english when she is at home and letting her emotions control what she says. It’s like letting your hair down and wearing comfortable clothes instead of wearing business clothes. Tan, like Mellix also discovers how her knowledge of two languages and cultures empowers her. After careful consideration, Tan decides that the Chinese are not limited in language, but instead are just more specific than Americans, and instead of using the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis to alienate herself from both languages she uses it to find a new place in both. At the end of the story she goes out to dinner with her visiting uncle and aunt and after being told that “she think chinese” Tan responds with “act like an american” showing to the readers that she has stopped worrying about which parts of her belong to which culture and has accepted both as a part of her (669). This allows for Tan to talk about issues that affect both the chinese and americans without feeling like she is doing something detrimental to either of the

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