Different Tongues All One Noise

by Brie Veltri

Language is the the way that we as humans communicate; this is how we share our emotions, experiences, knowledge, and so much more. There are many way to experience an emotion. Our life experiences and personalities contribute to our reaction to certain situations. That being said, language can be as different and unique to every individual as are their life experiences and personalities. For example you could speak “Spanglish”, your tongue rapidly pronouncing your English R’s. You could be from England and not understand what in the world we Americans are talking about when we say “fries”, and how our “chips” are very unlike yours.

Many of the classical pieces of literature weren’t written in English, infact most of them were translated from Latin or some other language. Henry David Thoreau in his narrative Walden, devotes a whole chapter to explain reading and it’s purpose. Thoreau claims that there is a fine beauty in having the ability to read a text in it’s original language, especially the classics. With the access to the internet we have today, you can find almost any book in any language, and if you don’t, you can have your trusty friend Google Translate to help you out. However, here lies the problem, there are so many sources available at the touch of a button where you could electronically translate a whole essay into any language in seconds. This is where translation goes wrong though. Words have different meaning and context plays a huge role in distinguishing these differences, but unlike humans, computers often times won’t catch these errors. Therefore fine details, that may be crucial to the author’s purpose can often times be lost when translations occur.

Authors, such as Junot Díaz, have found a way to break this language barrier. Bilingual authors have begun to write novels in dual languages. Junot Díaz’s novel, The Brief and Wondrous life of Oscar Wao, is written in “Spanglish”; mostly English with sporadic Spanish words here and there for emphasis. This is such a neat concept, when you think about it. Even if you know a limited amount of Spanish you can still decipher the meaning of most words even if you don’t know them because of context clues. In a way, it is like learning how to read all over again. This method of writing reflects Díaz as a person and author. Díaz demonstrates his individuality, uniqueness, and culture throughout his writing.

To read more on POC  and cultural language distinctions, read Junot Díaz’s article “MFA v POC” published in the New Yorker. http://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/mfa-vs-poc

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