Communication school days. In “Speaking in Tongues” written

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Last updated: October 1, 2019

Communication has always been the root of humanitysince the beginning of time. It is the way that one being delivers information tothe next. We tend to communicate via body language and verbal language, with verballanguage being the more universal form.

With each communication there is a differentlanguage and dialect to be learned. The language that we speak is normally instilledin us by our parents at an early age. However, as we grow older our aptitude toabsorb a foreign language declines and the mission becomes more challengingthan we once remembered during our early school days.  In “Speaking in Tongues” written by ZadieSmith and “The Nomads of Language” by Ariel Dorfman, both articles display the struggleof balancing more than one language. Smith loses her chance at speaking in differentlanguages due to her voice being forced to change without resistance due to anenvironmental change, while Dorfman struggled with learning how to embrace hisbilingualism. Despite everyone not being lucky to be taught multiple languagesfrom birth, however I feel that overtime we should be more accepting and moreopen to becoming multilingual not only to increase our brain’s ability, but todiscover new cultures, travel freely, and improve employability. Even though,there may be struggles upon learning the multiple languages, it’s nothing butan advantage to have throughout your lifetimeFamiliarizing yourself with an abundantamount of languages and dialects is not the easiest thing to do and in”Speaking in Tongues,” by Zadie Smith you get an idea of hard it really is.

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Whileinitially, Smith presented herself as a single voice woman due to the voice shepicked up during her time studying at Cambridge. Throughout her article she praiseseveryone who is able to not only retain the voice they learned from theirparents at a young age, but who is also able to speak in various voices becausethat is something that she failed to achieve. Smith’s article really hit homefor me, because as a Jamaican American, I have too experienced what she haveexperienced. A part of the article that really stood out to me was when Smithstated “This voice I speak with thesedays, this English voice with its rounded vowels and consonants in more or lessthe right place-this is not the voice of my childhood. I picked it up incollege, along with the unabridged Clarissa and a taste for port. Maybe thisfact is only what it seems to be – a case of bald social climbing-but at thetime, I genuinely thought this was the voice of lettered people, and that if ldidn’t have the voice of lettered people, I would never truly be lettered.

” Throughout my life, I have witnessed myaunt who once had a strong Jamaican accent train herself to having a Jamaicanaccent that is hardly even noticeable since her move to the United States. Myaunt, like Smith decided that it would be best to modify her voice fromlower/middle class to upper class because she felt as if it would help her flourishon the social scale and that people in her field would like and respect her moreif she spoke more like them. In the beginning, Smith was able to basicallyliving a double life with her voices, speaking her original voice when shevisited home and then turning back on her “upper class” voice, when back at Cambridge,but sadly it got too hard for her to manage. In paragraph two, she quotes “recently my double voice has deserted me for asingle one, reflecting the smaller world into which my work has led me.Willesden was a big, colorful, working class sea: Cambridge was a smaller,posher pond, and almost univocal; the literary world is a puddle. This voice Ipicked up along the way is no longer an exotic garment I put on like a collegegown whenever I choose—now it is my only voice, whether I want it or not.

Iregret it; I should have kept both voices alive in my mouth.”Zadie Smith, like my aunt both lost a part of who they were when they decidedto change their voice to fit in with a different crowd. Thankfully, Smith givesus hope within her article and gave us examples that you do not have to besingle-voiced in order to get to where you want to be, you can people a personwith many voices. Smith used Barack Obama as an example of someone who used hisability to absorb and develop so many voices. She stated “Obama can do youngJewish male, black old lady from the South Side, white woman from Kansas,Kenyan elders, white Harvard nerds, black Columbia nerds, activist women,churchmen, security guards, bank tellers, and even a British man called Mr.

Wilkerson, who on a starry night on safari says credibly British things like:”I believe that’s the Milky Way.” This new president doesn’t justspeak for his people. He can speak them.

It is a disorienting talent in apresident; we’re so unused to it.” Obamawas and still is able to speak in many voices, he is able to change his voiceaccording to his onlookers and is still able to acquire their full attentionand that is why he is so successful. Despite Smith giving up her voice andlosing apart of her identity, she doesn’t want us to do the same. Why speakonce voice when you can speak many?

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