Language and Intimacy
Kanye East 03/15/2013 English Language and Intimacy Language defines the type of person we are. It has an affect on our choices as well as our lifestyle. Depending on friends, family, and others we talk to, our choice on language tends to vary. Our decisions in life, sometimes, are influenced by the language we use and our surroundings. Language has become a way of seeing life in a different perspective. But can language effect intimacy? Family intimacy to be exact. Richard Rodriguez, a writer and public speaker, expertly illustrates his own experience with this in his autobiography, Hunger of Memory.
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Rodriguez’s childhood was particularly unique given the fact that while he was born and raised in the United States, he was strongly influenced in the ethnic environment of a Spanish family. Although the reader is introduced to only a short excerpt from the autobiography, he learns a great deal about Rodriguez’s family and his relationship to it, his conflict of speaking English versus Spanish, and the paradox that became evident as he used English as his primary language. Since learning English, young Rodriguez noted the lack of intimacy there was in his home.
Did the understanding of a new language affect the very close family? While I read this autobiography, there were tons of ideas that struck me. It was very interesting because so many of the different parts could relate to my life. Being born and raised in America, English was automatically my first language. Nevertheless, my parents were keen on making me and my siblings learn their native tongue, my fathers Yemeni culture and my mothers Turkish culture and most importantly, our religion. As soon as they can, my parents enrolled me and my siblings in Arabic school and Islamic studies.
There we learned how to read, write and fluently speak Arabic and also memorize and study the Holy Quran. At home, my mother schooled us on the Turkish language. The essence of my childhood was of culture and language but as me and my siblings got older, the language faded. Our once perfectly spoken Turkish and Arabic, broken. I couldn’t deny the fact that my Arabic was not as strong as before but it became the most evident to me when my grandparents came over from overseas. They only came one time before, when I was younger and knew the language of their tongue.
The news of them coming to our house from Yemen brought me to the basement, going through stacks of old coloring books and photos desperately looking for my old Arabic books. Remembering the pages and pages of Arabic greetings and phrases, I looked even harder. After finally finding it at the bottom and a hidden stack of books, I sat. The rush of nostalgia came back but when I opened my mouth to read, it was a stuttered mess. The words I once read so fluently were now what seemed a calligraphy of memory. At this point, I knew the book wasn’t going to do much for me.
Practicing the phrases I already knew, and said occasionally, I found more and more ways to make them sound like their not all I know. Ignoring the fact that they were. The day came and by this point I wanted to get the humiliation and disappointment over with. As I walked downstairs to greet them, familiar voices and smells of incents filled the air. Their smiles and hugs erased all the worry. And as we sat there listening to them laugh and reminisce with my father, me and my siblings all joined in on the conversation.
With the language of intimacy. This autobiography triggered many thoughts on language and intimacy. Of all possible human qualities, the one that wields the most power is the ability to use, understand and communicate effectively through language. A proficient use of language allows us to clearly communicate an exact idea from one person to another person or group of people. This precise science of being able to convey exactly what you want equates to the acquisition of power. As strong and powerful as language is, It didn’t affect intimacy.