Understanding the power of language
Most of us use language don’t think about language, we just use it, like how we breath. However, many days we find ourselves unable to express our thoughts, verbal messages and voice to the world. Language is what words we say or things we read, and messages we send.
All these aspects of language are powerful. It shapes the world we live in. It is so powerful that can shape the way we think, perceive and influence the world.
If it true that we are all have limited language and we feel trapped unable to say what we want sometimes, it also true that fixing this starts we the awareness and identifying the problem. In in Language Awareness, Ch. 4, “Understanding the Power of Language” present five essays about individuals tell their language struggle and how they overcame it. Choses the first three to compare and contrast their rhetorical stances, main points, quality of arguments. And also observe any patterns.
In “Coming to an Awareness of Language”, Malcolm X, accomplished writer/speaker who grew up uneducated, explained how he came to understand the power of words as a young prisoner serving time in the Norfolk Prison. He remembers his frustration and feelings of inadequacy when he recognized the limitations of slang-filled street talk. However, he released the problem and overcame it with action, where he copied a whole dictionary.
Next, we read the inspiring story of Helen Keller, who is a blind and deaf child that only felt some basic sensations. Helen Keller is a distinguished author and special education advocate who had a childhood filled with gray brood, anger and bitterness. Her world was restricted. Not everything was alive around her. In ” The Day Language came into My Life, ” Helen Keller shares ” the most important day she remembered in her life”(72) It was the day she learned ” all had a name and each name gave birth to a new thought ” (72)
In the third essay, “Superman and Me”, Sherman Alexie describes his experience as native American child who loved reading everything, but Indians in the reservation school wasn’t supposed to be book-smart.
All these three authors have few similarities. First, they all were frustrated that they had limitation when it came to using language to express themselves or thoughts, and that frustration was the changing point of their life. In Malcolm X case, he had a personality of action where he writes letters a send it to the Mayor of Boston, the Governor of Massachusetts and to Harry S. Truman. However, there was no response. Then he realized that response they never responded that he was not able to express his thoughts and say want he want to say and be understandable and he says, “I became increasingly frustrated at not being able to express what I wanted to convey in letters that I wrote, especially those to Mr. Elijah Muhammad”. After that he started copying the dictionary in order to learn new words every time.
Likewise, Helen Keller was frustrated and better as deaf and blind child where everything around her didn’t seem to have meaning to her meaning. It also was sensed in her writing when she was trying to learn and couldn’t realize that “d-o-l-l can be applied to the rug doll and the doll her teacher gave her” (73). That anger and frustration made her break that doll, which in the end she realized it had name and meaning. Therefore, new feelings and thoughts came alive.
Sherman Alexie also expressed his frustration when he argues “We were Indian children who were expected to be stupid. They struggled with basic reading in school but could remember how to sing a few dozen pow wow songs. They submissively ducked their heads when confronted by a non-Indian adult but would slug it out with the Indian bully who was ten years older” (79). Furthermore, Alexie was frustrated about the expectoration that Indian boys were not supposed to be book smart while he was smart and loved reading a lot. He also was frustrated for the Indian boys in his who were smart but made this expectation their life. That frustration made him take everything as challenge and refuse to life up to these expectations, which then shaped his life as writer and education advocate.
Furthermore, all three authors presented the power of language and how it shaped and changed their lives. Malcolm X copied the dictionary every day to the point it quipped him and he felt the importance of language. Even thought he was imprisoned, new world opened to him and he still felt free because of his language development. His world wasn’t the realty of being in jail but was the free world that knowledge of language shaped.
Moreover, language also changed Hellen Keller life as blind and deaf child. Her world as child was mostly filled with gray fog, anger, and bitterness until the moment she puts her hands in the water she “knew then that “w-a-t-e-r” meant the wonderful cool something that was flowing over my hand”(74). At that moment her soul found the light and a new relation between word, meaning, and emotion has developed.
Sherman Alexie changed his life by his resistant to life up to the expectation that Indian children supposedly shouldn’t be smart. He refused that, and self-educated himself by reading everything that’s readable, from auto-repair manuals to books and magazines. Later, he became a waiter and education advocate who visits reservation schools to not only let the power fo language change his own life, but also to change the life of others. Ho
In addition, Hellen Keller, Malcolm X and Sharman Alexie all used the Aritatul appeals to reach and communicate with their readers. However, every author has a different rhetorical stance that form their writing style.
In Malcolm X writing he mostly used the ethical appeal to reach the reader, which is called Ethos. He presented himself as jail prisoner who self-educated his self throughout writing letters. In his writing he looks back to a past self as a character and there is gap between to selves. Furthermore, in his writing you can sense number of voices and personalities like, person of action, Determination, growth, and freedom peace. His very first sentence in his writing he says “I’ve never been one for inaction. Everything I’ve ever felt strongly about, I’ve done something about” (67). This sentence very strongly shows his “person of action” personality. Next, he even more shows his personality and deamination thru his dissension of copying a whole dictionary to overcome his language limitation. Therefore, he expresses growth his transition from just copying to learning when he says “I was so fascinated that I went on—I copied the dictionary’s next page. And the same experience came when I studied that. With every succeeding page, I also learned of people and places and events from history” (69). Least but not least, freedom and pace was felt at the end of his writing as result of his growth in language. Even though he was imprisoned, a new world opened up to him and he was still free due to his language development. His world was not the real thing of being in prison but was the free world that shaped knowledge of language.
Moreover, Helen Keller mostly used pathos or what is called audience appeal. Helen expressed a lot of emotions in her writing. For example, anger and bitterness were sensed when she said, “I stood on the porch, dump, expectant.” (72) She was expecting something to happen but did not know what the future held for her. Frustration was also sensed in this reading when she was trying to learn that “d-o-l-l can be applied to the rug doll and the doll her teacher gave her. Furthermore, she used the figurative language when she says “Have you ever been at sea in a dense fog, when it seemed as if a tangible white darkness shut you in, and the great ship, tense and anxious, groped her way toward the shore with plummet and sounding-line, and you waited with beating heart for something to happen?” (73) This figurative language paints a picture to the reader to make them empathic and puts them in her shoe. It also interesting image that pulls the reader to read more.
Sharmen Alexie rhetorical stance is Eitho. He ecthiaclly appeal to the reader by showing what reading did for him. It changed his life. Therefor, he shows his credentials as young boy how then became a writer and the reader can trust. He also shows how self educating him self and reading everhing readabel, chaned his life to the point he became a great writer. His decisions have enabled him to look at the Indian boys who oppose education, and through their success his tell them how important reading and education are. When he visits the reservation to talk to the children about the importance of reading and education, this is his answer: the Indian children crowd into the classroom. They’ve read my books. They look at me with bright eyes and arrogant wonder. They trust Alexie because of his success.