How to Tame a Wild Tongue – Rhetorical Analysis

For this rhetorical analysis assignment, you’ll be analyzing the structure and style of one essay. To do that, you’ll need to (1) identify the essay’s various components of structure and style, and (2) make an argument that answers, proves, and explains how these components work together to advance the author’s argument. In other words, you must go beyond just identifying the components in order to conduct rhetorical analysis and meet the assignment requirements; you need to answer how/why what you identified impacts the essay’s rhetoric, its argument. You need to support that answer (your argument) with evidence and/or explanation. (Note: You are not expected to identify and analyze every instance of every structure and style component; that would be impossible for this page length.)Your essay should be 3-4 pages long and in MLA format. Please include a works cited page. As you prepare to write your essay, here are some questions that you can ask yourself. Of course, don’t just answer these questions one by one. Instead, answer these questions as part of your brainstorm process, then use this information to form your answer to the prompt.What are the main component parts and/or subparts of this text? What does each part or subpart contribute to the reader’s experience?Does a particular section in the text set up the reader for an experience delivered later by another part of the text?What expectations are created and then satisfied by these different sections?What conventional forms are at work? (Or is the form unconventional?)What expectations is the audience likely to have based on the genre?Are those expectations met?How would you describe the style of the work?What do you think the author intended in presenting the work in the style he/she choose?What stylistic virtues does the argument exhibit?What terms from the structure and style PowerPoint lectures have you identified in the reading you selected?
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GLORIA ANZALDUA
How to Tame a Wild Tongue
Gloria Anzaldua was born in 1942 in the Rio Grande Valley of South
Texas. At age eleven. she began working in the fields as a migrant worker
and then on her family’s land after the death of her father. Working her
way through school, she eventually became a schoolteacher and then
an academic, speaking and writing about feminis t, lesbian, and Chicana issues and about autobiography. She is best known for This
Bridge CalJed My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color ( 1981),
which she edited with Cherrie Moraga, and BorderlandsfLa Frontera:
The New Mestiza (1987). Anzaldua died in 2004.
“How to Tame a Wild Tongue” is from BorderlandsfLa Frontera.
In it, Anzaldua is concerned with many kinds of borders – between
nations, cultures, classes, genders, languages. When she writes, “So, if
you want to really hurt me, talk badly about my language” (par. 27),
Anzaldua is arguing for the ways in which identity is intertwined
with the way we speak and for the ways in which people can be made
to feel ashamed of their own tongues. Keeping hers wild – ignoring
the closing of linguistic borders – is Anzaldua’s way of asserting her
identity.
“We’re going to have to control
your tongue,” the dentist says, pulling out all the metal from my
mouth. Silver bits plop and tinkle into the basin. My mouth is a
motherlode.·
The dentist is cleaning out my
roots. I get a whiff of the stench when I gasp. “I can’t cap that
tooth yet, you’re still draining,” he says.
“We’re going to have to do something about your tongue,” I hear the anger rising in his voice. My
tongue keeps pushing out the wads of cotton, pushing back the
drills, the long thin needles. ‘Tve never seen anything as strong or
as stubborn,” he says. And I think, how do you tame a wild tongue,
33
34
GLORiA ANZALOOA
train it to be quiet, how do you bridle and saddle it? How do you
make it lie down?
“Who is to say that robbing a people of
its language is less violent than war?”

RAY GWYN SMITH 1
I remember being caught speaking Spanish at recess – that
was good for three licks on the knuckles with a sharp ruler. I
remember being sent to the comer of the classroom for “talking
back” to the Anglo teacher when all I was trying to do was tell her
how to pronounce my name. “If you want to be American, speak
‘American.’ If you don’t like it, go back to Mexico where you
belong.”
“I want you to speak English. Pa’ hallar buen trabajo tienes que
saber hablar el ingles bien. Que vale toda lu educaci6n si todav{a
!tablas ingles con un ‘accent:” my mother would say, mortified
that I spoke English like a Mexican. At Pan American University, I
and all Chicano students were required to take two speech classes.
Their purpose: to get rid of our accents.
Attacks on one’s [orm of expression with the intent to censor
are a violation of the First Amendment. El Anglo con cara de inocente nos arranc6 la lengua. Wild tongues can’t be tamed, they can
only be cut out.
OVERCOMING THE TRADITION OF SILENCE
Ahogadas, escupimos el OSCU1’O.
Peleando con nueSlra propia sombra
el silencio nos sepulra.
En boca cerrada no entran moscas. “Flies don’t enter a closed
mouth” is a saying I kept hearing when I was a child. Ser !tabladora was to be a gossip and a liar, to talk too much. Muchachitas
bien criadas, well-bred girls don’t answer back. Es una (alta de
respeto to talk back to one’s mother or father. I remember one
of the sins I’d recite to the priest in the confession box the few
times I went to confession: talking back to my mother, hablar pa’
‘tras, repelar. Hocicona, repelona, chismosa, having a big mouth,
questioning, carrying tales are all signs of being mal criada . In
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HOW TO TAME A WI LD TONGUE
35
my culture they are all words that are derogatory if applied to
women – I’ve never heard them applied to men.
The first time I heard two women, a Puerto Rkan and a Cuban,
say the word “nosotras,” I was shocked. I had not known the word
existed. Chicanas use nosotros whether we’re male or female . We
are robbed of our female being by the masculine plural. Language
is a male discourse.
And our tongues have become
dry
the wilderness has
dried out our tongues
and
we have forgotten speech.

[RENA KLEPFlSZ 2
Even our own people, other Spanish speakers nos quieren poner
candados en la boca . They would hold us back with their bag of
reglas de academia.
Oye como ladra: ellenguaje de la frontera
Quien tiene boca se equivoca.

MEXICAN SAYING
“Pocho, cultural traitor, you’re speaking the oppressor’s language by speaking English, you’re ruining the Spanish language,”
I have been accused by various Latinos and Latinas. Chicano
Spanish is considered by the purist and by most Latinos deficient,
a mutilation of Spanish.
But Chicano Spanish is a border tongue which developed naturally. Change, evoluci6n, enriquecimiento de palabras nuevas por
invenci6n 0 adopci6n have created variants of Chicano Spanish,
un nuevo lenguaje. Un lenguaje que corresponde a un modo de vivir.
Chicano Spanish is not incorrect, it is a living language.
For a people who are neither Spanish nor live in a country in
which Spanish is the first language; for a people who live in a
country in which English is the reigning tongue but who are not
Anglo; for a people who cannot entirely identify with either standard (formal, Castillian) Spanish nor standard English, what
recourse is left to them but to create their own language? A language which they can connect their identity to, one capable of
10
36
GLORIA ANZALOOA
communicating the realities and values true to themselves – a
language with terms that are neither espa/;al “i ingles, but both.
We speak a patois, a forked tongue, a variation of two languages.
Chicano Spanish sprang out of the Chicanos’ need to identify
ourselves as a distinct people. We needed a language with which
we could communicate with ourselves, a secret language. For
some of us, language is a homeland closer than the Southwestfor many Chicanos today live in the Midwest and the East. And
because we are a complex, heterogeneous people, we speak many
languages. Some of the languages we speak are:
1. Standard English
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
Working class and slang English
Standard Spanish
Standard Mexican Spanish
North Mexican Spanish dialect
Chicano Spanish (Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California
have regional variations)
7. Tex-Mex
8. Pachuco (called cal6)
My “home” tongues are the languages I speak with my sister
and brothers, with my friends. They are the last five listed, with 6
and 7 being closest to my heali. From school, the media, and job
situations, I’ve picked up standard and working class English.
From Mamagrande Locha and from reading Spanish and Mexican literature, I’ve picked up Standard Spanish and Standard
Mexican Spanish. From las recitn {{egadas, Mexican immigrants,
and braceros, I learned the North Mexican dialect. With Mexicans
I’ll try to speak either Standard Mexican Spanish or the North
Mexican dialect. From my parents and Chicanos living in the Valley, I picked up Chicano Texas Spanish, and I speak it with my
mom, younger brother (who man’ied a Mexican and who rarely
mixes Spanish with English), aunts, and older relatives.
With Chicanas from Nueva Mexica or Arizana I will speak Chicano Spanish a little, but often they don’t understand what I’m
saying, With most California Chicanas I speak entirely in English
(unless I forget). When I first moved to San Francisco, I’d rattle
off something in Spanish, unintentionally embarrassing them.
Often it is only with another Chicana tejana that I can talk freely.
Words distorted by English are known as anglicisms or pachismas. Thepacha is an anglicized Mexican or American of Mexican
15
HOW TO TAME A WILD TONGUE
37
origin who speaks Spanish with an accent characteristic of North
Americans and who distorts and reconstructs the language according to the inOuence of English. 3 Tex-Mex, or Spanglish, comes
most naturally to me. I may switch back and forth from Engli sh
to Spanish in the same sentence or in the same word. With my
sister and my brother Nune and with Chicano lejano contemporaries I speak in Tex-Mex.
From kids and people my own age I picked up Pachuco.
Pachuco (the language of the zoot suiters) is a language of rebellion, both against Standard Spanish and Standard English. It is
a secret language. Adults of the culture and outsiders cannot
understand it. It is made up of slang words from both English
and Spanish. Ruca means girl or woman, valo means guy or dude,
chale means no, sim6n means yes, churro is sure, talk is periquiar,
pigionear means petting, que gacho means how nerdy, ponle aguila
means watch out, death is called la pelona . Through lack of practice and not having others who can speak it, I’ve lost most of the
Pachuco tongue.
CHICANO SPANISH
Chicanos, after 250 years of Spanish/Anglo colonization, have
developed Significant differences in the Spanish we speak. We collapse two adjacent vowels into a single syIJable and sometimes
shift the stress in certain words such as ma(vmaiz, cohele/cuele .
We leave out certain consonants when they appear between vowels: lado/lao, mojado/mojao. Chicanos from South Texas pronounce (as j as in jue ((ue). Chicanos use “archaisms,” words that
are no longer in the Spanish language, words that have been
evolved out. We say semos, Iruje, haiga, ansina, and naiden . We
retain the “archaic” j, as in jalar, that derives from an earlier h,
(the French halar or the Germank halon which was lost to standard Spanish in the 16th century), but which is still found in several regional dialects such as the one spoken in South Texas. (Due
to geography, Chicanos fTom the Valley of South Texas were cut
off linguistically from other Spanish speakers. We tend to use
words that the Spaniards brought over from Medieval Spain. The
majority of the Spanish colonizers in Mexico and the Southwest
came from Extremadura – Heman Cortes was one of them –
38
GLORIA ANZALDOA
and Andalucfa. Andalucians pronounce II like a y, and their d’s
tend to be absorbed by adjacent vowels: lirado becomes lirao.
They brought ellenguaje popular, dialeclos y regionalismos. ‘)
Chkanos and other Spanish speakers also shift II to y and z to
S5 We leave out initial syllables, saying lar for eslar, lay for esloy,
hora for ahora (ct/banos and puerlorrique.;os also leave out initial
letters of some words). We also leave out the final syllable such as
pa for para . The intervocalic y , the II as in lortilla, ella, bOlella, gets
replaced by Ionia or IOrliya, ea, bolea. We add an additional syllable at the beginning of certain words: alOcar for locar, agaslar
for gascar. Sometimes we’ll say lavaste las vacijas, other times
lavates (substituting the ates verb endings for the aste).
We use angHcisms, words borrowed from EngHsh: bola from
ball, carpela from carpet, meichina de lavar (instead of lavadora)
from washing machine. Tex-Mex argot, created by adding a Spanish sound at the beginning or end of an EngHsh word such as
cookiar for cook, watchar for watch, parkiar for park, and rapiar
for rape, is the result of the pressures on Spanish speakers to
adapt to English.
We don’t use the word vosotroslas or its accompanying verb
form . We don’t say claro (to mean yes), imag(I1ate, or me emociol1a, unless we picked up Spanish from Latinas, out of a book,
or in a classroom . Other Spanish-speaking groups are going
through the same, or similar, development in their Spanish.
LINGUISTIC TERRORISM
Deslenguadas. Somas los del espanal deficienle. We are your linguistic
nightmare. your linguistic aberration, your linguistic mestisaje, the subject of your bur/a. Because we speak with tongues of fIre we are culturally
crucified. Racial1y, cultu ral1y, and linguistically somas huerfanos – we
speak an orphan Longue.
Chicanas who grew up speaking Chicano Spanish have internalized the belief that we speak poor Spanish. It is illegitimate, a
bastard language. And because we internaHze how our language
has been used against us by the dominant culture, we use our language differences against each other.
Chicana feminists often skirt around each other with suspicion
and hesitation . For the longest time I couldn’t figure it out. Then
20
HOW TO TAME A WILD TONGUE
39
it dawned on me. To be close to another Chicana is like looking
into the mirror. We are afraid of what we’lJ see there. Pena. Shame.
Low estimation of self. In childhood we are told that our language
is wrong. Repeated attacks on our native tongue diminish our
sense of self. The attacks continue throughout our lives.
Chicanas feel uncomfortable talking in Spanish to Latinas,
alTaid of their censure. Their language was not outlawed in their
countries. They had a whole lifetime of being immersed in their
native tongue; generations, centuries in which Spanish was a first
language, taught in school, heard on radio and TV, and read in
the newspaper.
If a person, Chicana or Latina, has a low estimation of my
native tongue, she also has a low estimation of me. Often with
mexicanas y latinas we’ll speak English as a neutral language.
Even among Chicanas we tend to speak English at parties or conferences. Yet, at the same time, we’re afraid the other will think
we’re agringadas because we don’t speak Chicano Spanish. We
oppress each other trying to out-Chicano each other, vying to
be the “real” Chicanas, to speak like Chicanos. There is no one
Chicano language just as there is no one Chicano experience. A
monolingual Chicana whose first language is English or Spanish
is just as much a Chicana as one who speaks several variants of
Spanish. A Chicana from Michigan or Chicago or Detroit is just
as much a Chicana as one from the Southwest. Chicano Spanish
is as diverse linguistically as it is regionally.
By the end of this century, Spanish speakers will comprise the
biggest minority group in the U.S., a country where students in
high schools and colleges are encouraged to take French classes
because French is considered more “cultured.” But for a language
to remain alive it must be used· By the end of this century
English, and not Spanish, will be the mother tongue of most Chicanos and Latinos.
So, if you want to really hurt me, talk badly about my language.
Ethnic identity is twin skin to linguistic identity – I am my language. Until I can take pride in my language, I cannot take pride
in myself. Until I can accept as legitimate Chicano Texas Spanish,
Tex-Mex, and all the other languages I speak, I cannot acceplthe
legitimacy of myself. Until I am free to write bilingually and to
switch codes without having always to translate, while I still have
25
40
GLORIA ANZALOOA
to speak English or Spanish when I would rather speak Spanglish, and as long as I have to accommodate the English speakers
rather than having them accommodate me, my tongue will be
illegitimate.
I will no longer be made to feel ashamed of existing. I will
have my voice: Indian, Spanish, white. I will have my se;.pent’s
tongue – my woman’s voice, my sexual voice, my poet’s voice. I
will overcome the tradition of silence.
My fingers
move sly against your palm
Like women everywhere, we speak in code .. ..

MELANIE KAVE/KANTROWITZ 7
“Vistas, ,J corridos, y comida: My Native Tongue
In the 1960s, I read my first Chicano novel. It was City of Night by
John Rechy, a gay Texan, son of a Scottish father and a Mexican
mother. For days I walked around in stunned amazement that a
Chicano could write and could get published. When I read I Am
Joaquin’ I was surprised to see a bilingual book by a Chicano in
print. When I saw poetry written in Tex-Mex for the first time, a
feeling of pure joy flashed through me. I felt like we really existed
as a people. In 1971, when I started teaching High School English
to Chicano students, I tried to supplement the required texts with
works by Chicanos, only to be reprimanded and forbidden to do
so by the principal. He claimed that I was supposed to teach
“American” and English literature. At the risk of being fired, I
swore my students to secrecy and slipped in Chicano short stories, poems, a play. In graduate school, while working toward a
Ph.D., I had to “argue” with one advisor after the other, semester
after semester, before I was allowed to make Chicano literature
an area of focus.
Even before I read books by Chicanos or Mexicans, it was the
Mexican movies I saw at the drive-in – the Thursday night special
of $1.00 a carload – that gave me a sense of belonging. “Vdmonos
a las vistas,” my mother would call out and we’d all – grandmother, brothers, sister, and cousins – squeeze into the car We’d
wolf down cheese and bologna white bread sandwiches while
watching Pedro Infante in melodramatic tearjerkers like Nosotros
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HOW TO TAME A WILD TONGUE
41
los pobres, the first “real” Mexican movie (that was not an imitation of European movies). I remember seeing Cuando los hijos se
van and surmising that all Mexican movies played up the love a
mother has for her children and what ungrateful sons and daughters suffer when they are not devoted to their mothers. I remember the singing-type “westerns” of Jorge Negrete and Miquel Aceves
Mejra. When watching Mexican movies, I felt a sense of homecoming as well as alienation. People who were to amount to something didn’t go to Mexican movies, or bailes, or tune their radios
to bolero, rm,cherita, and corrido music.
The whole time I was growing up, there was norteno music
sometimes called North Mexican border music, or Tex-Mex
music, or Chicano music, or cantina (bar) music. I grew up bstening to conjuntas, three- or four-piece bands made up of folk musicians playing guitar, bajo sexta, drums, and button accordion,
which Chicanos had bon’owed from the German immigrants who
had come to Central Texas and Mexico to farm and build breweries. In the Rio Grande Valley, Steve Jordan and Little Joe Hernandez were popular, and Flaco Jimenez was the accordion king. The
rhythms of Tex-Mex music are those of the polka, also adapted
from the Germans, who in turn had borrowed the polka from the
Czechs and Bohemians.
I remember the hot, sultry evenings when corridos – songs of
love and death on the Texas-Mexican borderlands – reverberated
out of cheap amplifiers fTom the local can tinas and wafted in
through my bedroom window.
Corridos first became widely used along the South Texas/
Mexican border during the early conflict between Chicanos and
Anglos. The corridos are usually about Mexican heroes who do
valiant deeds against the Anglo oppressors. Pancho Villa’s song,
“La cucaracha,” is the most famous one. Corridos of John F.
Kennedy and his death are still very popular in the Valley. Older
Chicanos remember Lydia Mendoza, one of the great border
corrido singers who was called la Gloria de Tejas . Her “Eltango
negro,” sung during the Great Depression, made her a singer of
the people. The everpresent corridos narrated one hundred years
of border history, bringing news of events as well as entertaining.
These folk musicians and folk songs are our chief cultural mythmakers, and they made our hard lives seem bearable.
42
GLORIA ANZALOOA
I grew up feeling ambivalent about our music. Countrywestern and rock-and-roll had more status. In the 50s and 60s,
for the slightly educated and agril1gado Chicanos, there existed a
sense of shame at being caught listening to our music. Yet I
couldn’t stop my feet from thumping to the music, could not stop
humming the words, nor hjde from myself the exhilaration I felt
when I heard it.
There are more subtle ways that we internaljze identification,
especially in the forms of images and emotions. For me food and
certain smells are tied to my identi ty, to my homeland. Woodsmoke
curling up to an immense blue sky; woodsmoke perfuming my
grandmother’s clothes, her skjn. The stench of cow manure and
the yellow patches on the ground; the crack of a .22 rifle and the
reek of cordHe. Homemade white cheese sizzling in a pan, melting …
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