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  • Writer's pictureVianney Gavilanes

Welcome to Being in Language

Stay tuned for my upcoming blog, Being in Language, where I explore the connections between language, culture, immigration, and education. My explorations stem from the premise that language is not just a passive way of referring to or describing things in the world but that it is a form of social action. My fascination with language stems from its wide-reaching influence ranging from stories that uplift us and transport us to other worlds to the racializing effects of the power of language. Consequently, power dynamics embedded within language become areas of analysis that can guide us toward viewing language as a potential site of resistance and social change.

Below is a sneak preview:

Deslenguadas, (Dis)connections, and Silences

Language is a medium for learning to read and insert ourselves in the world. Learning English as a second language for racialized-other-than-white students leaves indelible marks on how they read and insert themselves in their worlds. Gloria Anzaldua’s (1987) analysis of the intimate aspects of language and the linguistic terrorism that results when robbing a people of its language is at the core of her oft-cited chapter, How to Tame a Wild Tongue. Anzaldua begins her chapter with an epigraph boldly stating, “Who is to say that robbing a people of its language is less violent than war?” (p.75). With this clear association between the loss of a language and the violence of war, we are introduced to her analysis of linguistic terrorism, offering us the concept of deslenguadas to illustrate a form of imposed silence. Although Anzaldua specifically referred to a perceived deficient variety of Spanish that becomes attached to Chicanas, I extend her concept of deslenguadas to include perceived deficient varieties of English to understand my experience as an English language learner in the early 1990s.

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