Manisha/ September 28, 2018/ Reflective Essay #1/ 2 comments

Growing up, I spoke mainly two languages, Hindi and English. I wouldn’t use English as much at home as I would when outside but I did tend to mix it in with my Hindi. In fact, I would, or rather do, tend to mix in Punjabi as well. As an Indian who lives in the U.S.A, the way I talk always seems weird to relatives who would meet me after a long time.It was weird to them because I would mix these 3 languages up without even realizing it. They expected me to be like them or even my parents, to be able to realize how I’m talking, especially in the context of situation and/or environment. To me, in my everyday speech, both sound really similar but they’re not. For example, something in Hindi would be pronounced with a more emphasis and more of an accent in Punjabi. If a stranger who spoke either of the two languages heard me, they’d probably be able to guess the type of environment I grew up in, my education and socioeconomic class.

Now that I’ve given a brief explanation as to my speech in languages other than English, this arises the question of how would the general public describe my language? Would it be the prestige form or the stigmatized form? To be honest, I don’t think it would be either. I think this because my Hindi/Punjabi isn’t like those of the higher status but it’s not like those of the lower status either. Although, if I really had to pick one, I think it would lean more towards the prestige form. Sure, there are few moments where I may talk like those in the stigmatized form but for the most part, I think my Hindi/Punjabi is decent enough to kind of be considered as the prestige form. However, this is just what I think. How would someone who didn’t know me think? Maybe they’d say it’s in the middle but leaning towards the stigmatized form. Why? Well, probably because they would start comparing the way I talk to the way they talk and think, “Oh, I talk way better than her, she’s probably from a lower class,” which may not be true. Here’s an example, the way I pronounce something is different from the way my cousin may pronounce it and sure, he’ll make fun of me for it but, in all honesty? There wasn’t a much of a difference. It’s all about the way you were brought up and how you grew up speaking a certain way.

By doing this assignment, I’ve thought more deeply about how people tend to perceive us on the basis of the way we talk. For example, someone in India, may think English could be good enough for them to get by in a setting where they would have to use English. Then, I come along and that person doesn’t know that I’m from the U.S., may think that either I received an expensive education or that I studied abroad. This example shows how a person would perceive me, on the basis of how our English was and how mine sounded much different from theirs. Along with that perceiving people on their speech, I’ve thought a lot more about how these very attitudes are another way in which varying forms of discrimination occur. A person who didn’t receive much of an education or grew up in a neighborhood that wasn’t that great, is going to talk in mostly slang as compared to someone who received a good education and grew up in a good neighborhood. That person that received a good education may start to think less of the other person which is basically discrimination. The way I see, the “better” your speech is, the more likely you are to discriminate or criticize someone who with a “lesser” speech, whether it be implicit or explicit discrimination/criticism.

Questions:

  1. After rereading my work, I think my introduction could use some work, I’m just not sure what I can do to improve it.
  2. I think the essay I answered the given questions about language but the body is only one paragraph. Are there parts that I can take out of the either introduction or conclusion so that I can create another body paragraph or is it fine the way it is?
  3. Does this essay seem to make sense because after rereading it, it feels like it doesn’t and that I’m just rambling.
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2 Comments

  1. I’m gonna answer #3. First come, first serve, right? Your essay makes sense. It probably just feels like you’re rambling because of the questions you put in the essay to ask yourself (or the audience?…Or both!?) that makes it seem that you’re unsure. But it’s your essay…so you kinda have to be sure, otherwise your audience will be unsure. Instead, perhaps you can just take out the questions you ask and just state how you feel. Aside from that, it’s just a draft so no worries.

  2. Manisha, I think that you have made really good points in your draft. I think that you need to make sure that from the beginning you identify your language(s), in this case, Hindi/Punjabi, and let the reader know a little bit more about it (you can add an example that differenciates this variety from Hindi).
    Regarding the attitudes, could you clarify and explain them? As a reader, I cannot identify clearly the attitudes that exsit about Hindi/Punjabi and the social factors that contribute towards these attitudes.

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