March 31, 2004
The use of language is an incentive for prejudicial perceptions which bring many issues to the attention of people everywhere. People who do not understand certain languages want to either learn that language, or they feel apprehensive towards those who know more about other languages than they do. Some people are ashamed of their culture, family history, and wish that they could change it. They long for acceptance from todays harsh society. People who come from multi?cultural families who speak two or more languages are either ridiculed thought of as smart, or too smart, therefore causing a want to be “common”.
Elizabeth Wong gave many examples of cultural separation or “divorce” as she would put it, in “The Struggle to be an All?American Girl”. She told of how she felt great disgrace for her Chinese ethnicity and culture. She wanted to be that “All?American Girl” to fit into our judgmental society. She felt hatred towards her mother for only knowing broken English. As she got older and matured, she learned to respect and be proud of her families culture.
Most People have more respect for family and they realize that family is one of the most important things in life. When you are younger, family is important, but in a different type of way. Most people find themselves looking back on their childhood wishing that they could go back and relive it. They miss relying on their parents for support but on the other hand, they start looking forward to having a family of their own.
Joyce Chang shared similar views to that of Elizabeth Wong. She was quite embarrassed by her families background. In “Drive Becarefully”, Joyce often thought twice before she spoke, because of being scolded by her teacher at an early age. She was taught to speak clearly and to make sure that the point was clearly stated and understood. She said: ” Having my teachers say that my mothers English was wrong had a lasting impression on me. When I went home that day, all I could think about when my mother spoke was the wrongness of her as a person”. How horrible that must of been for someone to think of their mother as incorrect. Joyce wanted to fix every mistake her mother made and “Americanize” her. Joyce grew up, matured, and began to accept people for who they were, and not by how they spoke. She now tries to “ignore the perhaps, awkward structure of their sentences”, and not critique their every word.
Chang and Wong are two authors with similar backgrounds. They were both of different cultures trying to live in an American society. They were both ashamed of their culture, language, and families at one time or another. Both changed their minds later in life as they matured and they began to appreciate their backgrounds and culture. People who separate themselves from their culture often find themselves going back to their roots and finally appreciating who they are and where they came from.
Id like to thank the authors of this essays for their realizations of cultural divorces and for sharing them with us. Id also like to thank Basey, the weird guy in the back for making me laugh at his comments on my paper. Thanks!