A Beautiful Tongue

Posted on October 23, 2012

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The way I talk is better than the way you talk. The way my environment has molded me to speak is simply better than the way your environment has molded you to speak. Yes, we are all equal and our differences make us beautiful. And that’s all really nice. But you have to talk like me. It’s about time you begin to talk like my parents, my grandparents, their parents, and all of my friends if you’re going to have anything worth having.

Not these exact words but I’ve heard this all my life. My parents heard this all their life. My grandparents heard this all their life. Their parents heard it loud and clear. My ancestors from way back before then, now they were proud. They were normal like everybody else. They had their own thing going on and that was beautiful. And suddenly everything changed. They were forced into countries where their language was only their language. And all of a sudden they were the minority. And all of sudden they were owned by someone else and nothing about them was beautiful.

Their languages were sacred. For as long as they could, they spoke their languages to better communicate, relate to one another, and remind each other of who they were. But eventually they had to learn the English language and naturally they created their own dialect influenced by their native tongue, code language to keep messages amongst themselves, and the dialect they picked up from the people in their new environment.

Freedom rang. And the challenges of getting into certain schools and landing certain jobs made us deny our tongue to be a part of a social class. But if we hadn’t adapted, where would we be? Would we be further than we are now or not? What if we had built a world of business early on where we owned our own talents? What if we started out assimilating and owning our own culture with everything we had at the exact same time? What if we never adopted any stigma of our dialect? What if we remain proud, even today?

Clarity is what I found to be one of the most important factors in language. There is a difference between speaking so that someone who doesn’t share your dialect can understand you than changing the tone of your voice. That is when you change who you are.

But we rarely talk about the dozens of dialects under the English language. We just rather focus on a few. In college, I took a course that broke down the history of language and dialects. I learned about the influences that created the way I talk and you talk. What makes the way you talk better than the way I talk? The most crucial fact I learned from the mature white male, who was a bit older than my grandparents, was that correct English doesn’t exist. He taught us every American-English dialect that has been documented. We jumped from Hawaiian Creole, to the Brahmin of Boston, the Texas Twang, Spanglish, the clear distinction of New York City, Chicago Urban, the German influence on Pennsylvania, Gullah Creole of the coastal areas of Georgia and South Carolina, and we went all the way down to the Cajun French of Louisiana. Every American has a dialect but we are all taught to speak dialect-free until we are around people who speak the way we do.

Nevertheless

Whoever you are, wherever you are, whatever dialect you have, clarity is your friend to communicate with people who don’t share your dialect. It’s okay if they don’t pick up on expressions that are common to you, your unique vocabulary, and the way you reword. The only importance is that you have successfully communicated your message. And when you go back home: relax your tongue and be free because the way I talk is not better than the way you talk and the way you talk is not better than the way I talk. Clarity is universal and we all have to adapt at times. And even naturally we adapt our dialects when we move to a new place. But never find shame in your tongue, it is only your history that lives in it.

It doesn’t make sense for a Southerner to criticize another Southerner although they both share a Southern dialect whether they hear it in themselves or not. The same for a Northerner criticizing another Northerner and so on.  It doesn’t matter, it’s all beautiful dialect. It’s all a part of our personal and collective history. I don’t owe you anything of my tongue and especially the depth in my voice and you don’t owe me anything. I am who I am and you are who you are and what connects us will always be clarity.

It was never in God’s plan for us to forever talk the same way, walk the same way, and look the same way. But it was his plan to show us the powerful existence of love. He knew we would not have been able to detect the power of love if we were all the same.

We are all beautiful. Thank you for reading and be fulfilled.

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