Mother Tongue and When I was PR-Angel

“I know this for a fact, because when I was growing up, my mother’s “limited” English limited my perception of her. I was ashamed of her English. I believed that her English reflected the quality of what she had to say. That is, because she expressed them imperfectly her thoughts were imperfect.”

This quote is important to me because it is relatable to my life coming from a Dominican background. Growing up with my grandpa, who know little to no english, always made me feel this way. He was born and raised in Dominican Republic and only came to New York for work, he was never required to learn the language. Every time he would pick me up from school I would always have to translate if we went out to get food etc.

It has become our language of intimacy, a different sort of English that relates to family talk, the language I grew up with- closeness And I had plenty of empirical evidence to support me- evidence from experience But I do think that the language spoken in the family, especially in immigrant families which are more insular, plays a large role in shaping the language of the child-ignorant of or uninterested in cultures, ideas, or peoples outside one’s own experience

“Every day after school I went to the library and took out as many children’s books as I was allowed. I figured that if American children learned
English through books, so could I, even if I was starting later.”

As a child who grew up in a Dominican household this article is relatable. Starting out school here in New York was different for me because even though I was born here, spanish was my first language. I remember when I was in elementary school I was always trying to enhance my reading like Esmeralda, since I always had a big accent. I always felt like other students were more advanced because they can pronounce word that I had trouble saying when in reality that wasn’t the case at all, I just needed practice.

The front steps were wide but shallow and led up to a set
of heavy double doors that slammed shut behind us as we walked down
the shiny corridor- a long passage in a building from which doors lead into rooms. This was probably the first rebellious act she had seen from me outside my usual mouthiness within the family-excessively talkative Having to fall back would be worse than just accepting my fate-development of events beyond a person’s control

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