Essay On Bilingualism

992 WordsJun 14, 20174 Pages
Bilingualism Final Essay The metaphor of an “American melting pot” depicts the concept of people from different backgrounds fusing into one society. Even today as new immigrants arrive in the U.S., our society absorbs them. As with any integration, unavoidable issues spring forth. Different people have different meanings for language, making it a controversial topic. The essays of Martín Espada, a former lawyer and current professor, and those of the author Richard Rodriguez are prime examples of the varied interpretations of language. Espada believes that language is a part of a person’s culture, while Rodriguez argues that a person must integrate his or herself into their country's society. I believe that language at its source should…show more content…
According to Rodriguez, one’s private identity is the way a person behaves when alone, and how that person views his or herself as an individual. In contrast, the public identity is how the public believes a person should act. Rodriguez grew up in the U.S., but was not a native English speaker. He often struggled in his younger years to communicate with his classmates and teachers. Rather than critiquing the system thrust upon him, Rodriguez seems almost grateful that his teachers did not sugarcoat his transition from Spanish to English. He reflects, “What I needed to learn in school was that I had the right -- and the obligation -- to speak the public language of los gringos” (19). Unlike Espada, Rodriguez accepts that he must adjust to English or be left behind by society. However, Rodriguez’s transition was not without its costs. Near the end of his essay, Rodriguez remarks, “But the special feeling of closeness at home was diminished... Gone was the desperate, urgent, intense feeling of being at home; rare was the experience of feeling myself individualized by family intimates” (24). Rodriguez’s family was also isolated by the language barrier, resulting in a close bond between them. However, when Rodriguez and his family learned English, this close bond that stemmed from their linguistic isolation was no longer necessary, and eventually eroded away. By fulfilling his public identity, Rodriguez lost part of his private
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