Blog #6 English Language

Bell Hook describes the English language as a double-edged sword, a weapon used by the oppressors to shame and colonize the thoughts and ideas of those who speak unfavorable forms of language before it is even produced. The English language also offers the opportunity to assimilate with the reward of reaching a more inclusive audience, IF you follow its prescriptive rules- admitting there is a right and wrong language. Initially haunted by the idea “This is the oppressor’s languages yet I need it to talk to you” Hook knows it is not the language itself that hurts her “but what the oppressors do with it”. It is used by the oppressor to discredit and dehumanize foreign voices with the goal of being the last language standing. However learning the prestige enables the oppressed to manipulate the “favorable” language in “unfavorable ways” that break away from standard usage and meaning.

Jamil Jan Kochai admits to becoming a word scratcher who fell captive to the written English language. He began to capture the spoken word of his family’s memories, “writing for the diaspora, for Afghans and Muslims living in Sacramento and Fremont and D.C. and London and wherever else our people had been scattered”. Very little had been written about the Afghan diaspora and he intended to record it to bring awareness to the unrecorded suffering that only existed in oral narratives. While writing he realized the memories of his parents had been distorted by the written English language. The written language did not capture the culture. The translation contorted the context to make it more legible and interpretable for the “white gaze”

I do not know how I am, or if i am subjected to the way the English language is often thought of, as a prestige superior language. Or if was born a subject to the language by choosing to remain a mono linguist. Last semester I had a professor leave a note on an introductory activity we handed in. She wrote something along the lines of “don’t worry, monolingual-ism is curable” she also next to it in parenthesis (it’s a joke). The fact that she wrote “its a joke” was more amusing to me then the joke itself. Why would she write “it’s a joke”? Probably to lighten the blow if I was offended by her comparison of monolingual-ism as a disease that needs to be cured when in fact monolingual-ism and standard spoken and written English is seen as a type of cure for America by those who endorse the superiority of Standard English.

Blog #5 Literacy Sponsors

When I first read Brandt’s definition of “Sponsors of Literacy” the phrase “ and gain advantage by it in some way” threw me off. The first “advantage”  that came to my mind was money. Cha-CHING. I mean that would consist of a long list of teachers and professor. So I stopped being so shallow, and dug a little deeper into my memory, emotional intelligence , and continued to read the excerpt and realized my first major literacy sponsor was my grandmother (on my Father’s side). From Kindergarten to 8th grade my Gram and I would walk to the library everyday during the summer. The walk to the library was only 10/ 15 minutes..We would justify our pit stops at Mcdonalds with the fact the decided to walk instead of drive. I did everything my Grams did at the library except for reading. She would browse, so I would browse. She would pick out a few books, put them back, take them off the shelf again, begin reading a couple pages, and then check them out. Her selection was mostly fiction, a lot of crime, horror, mystery, and thriller novels. I would come to the library’s front counter with a stack with bright covers, big letters, and thin books. I knew I wouldn’t read them I just wanted to do what my Grams did. She supported and enabled my early literacy learning by taking me to the library and giving me the access and opportunity to enhance my literacy learning and I guess I didn’t make the most of it. But we gained a lot of valuable time together. My second literacy sponsor(s) would be my parents who taught me how to, or attempted to teach me how to read. When I could read, by dad would read me a passage from something and ask me to explain what he just read using my own words. I would try to just memorize what he said and repeat it back to him but that only upset him. My mom, on the other hand was a HUGE FAN of flashcards. This woman still has flashcards for colors, animals, household furniture, occupations, and her favorite multiplication tables in her sock drawer. She used them on my older brothers, me , my nieces, and my little cousins. My mom and dads different methods for helping me to learn and understand language and literacy gives a little insight as to how they learned. My dad was adopted in Southern California by a VERY AMERICAN family who was originally from Illinois. My Grams loved to read as a hobby and she passed that onto my dad. My mom was born and raised in Apia, Samoa and moved to Southern California at 21. Her first language and  the language she predominantly used at home was Samoan. She learned English in school and depended on study aids such as flash cards to help her. For my dad reading was hobby he used to connect to my Grams with. For my mom, reading was a tool and a skill that she could perfect and practice to assimilate and guarantee work. I can’t decide if I’m missing out or if I’m over privileged because I don’t have the same value for literacy learning as my parents did.

My Lit Narrative Brainstorm

  • Writing; putting thoughts/ ideas to paper. Abstract to concrete
  • Originally I divided “writing” into two categories- creative (free) writing and school writing (recording/ documenting, analysis, and regurgitation)
    • i’m really disappointed that i only came up with two categories
      • “Writing” is what I do at school, everything  else is “writing” but not “Writing”
  • School Writing- structure- formula; intro (thesis) +body paragraphs + conclusion (why it matters)
    • School enforces this template
      • Good writing
        • Avoid weak verbs
        • Avoid “I”
        • Tenses
        • Proper punctuation
        • No run on/ fragments
        • MLA/ APA format
  • Realized I have experienced different kinds of writing
    • I communicate and record info outside of school in different places and in different ways
      • No single style speakers of L- no one speaks the same way all the time- shift occurs
      • Shift occurs in writing as well
        • Standard/ formal
          • High School & College- for others to read
            • Structure (essays) recording (taking notes), regurgitation/ repeat info ( tests short answers)
            • Emails
          • Easier for me to aim to meet the expectations of an assignment that are direct and or require to argue for/against something or provide evidence for an argument
          • Harder for me when given freedom and loose structure
        • Work place- restaurant shorthand to take down orders – for myself to read later
          • Abbreviations
        • Vernacular, what I am most comfortable with- to communicate with others
          • Texting
          • Social media
        • Transcriptions (IPA)- for myself to refer to later
          • Articulation
          • Language acquisition
        • Sports- for myself to refer to later
          • Swimming
            • Event number. Heat number. Lane number
      • How i write depends on place, time, goal, formality, and audience
        • All of these have same goal : effective writing. Audience understands intended message/ i understand intended message and can refer back to it later in time and still understand


Blog #4 How do we write ?

“I have to pound away at rock with a chisel and dig out a deep hole before I can locate the source of my creativity “ – Haruki Murakami


The quote above from Murakami’s “The Running Novelist” not only perfectly describes my process of writing but describes my process of everything. I have been an student athlete for 9 years.  I was not blessed with natural athletic abilities, I worked hard for them. I wasn’t tall enough to be my club volleyball coaches first choice for outside hitter. BUT I showed them I could jump higher then the girls who played that position. I knew nothing about basketball but I could outrun any girl on the court. I played aggressive defense ( had fouled out of many games) and was never afraid to box out a girl twice my size When I re entered the competitive swimming world in high school I never imagined I would get a scholarship to swim club and qualify for age group JO’s in our region (Junior Olympics). All of this was hard work, pounding away the doubts of others. Writing and school required the same amount of hard work. I don’t have photographic memory, I need to read and re read and read things again to learn them. My writing process requires me to start at least two weeks before the assignments is due. I need to wake up early get some coffee in my system and then get another coffee to have next to me when i start the writing process. The first thing I do is pick a quote that; stands out to me ,that I can apply to my entire essay, and use to wrap up my essay. I want the quote to be like a big bow, and my essay the gift. Picking the/a quote takes longer than I like. If i can pick the right quote i feel pretty confident about my paper. When I get the assignment I like to break it down. The requirements in terms of points you need to hit and length especially can be pretty intimidating when starting to write. So I take about 5 or 6 loose leaf papers. I title them Intro, body 1, body 2, body 3, and conclusion. I treat each one as its own mini assignment that I can string together and revise later. Instead of just sitting down at my laptop staring at a blank google doc, i prefer to do this and write my ideas  my hand. Sometimes they are full sentences but they are usually bullets of important facts, evidence, analysis, or my interpretation of a reading or event, why it matters, and how it relates to my quote (which usually conveys the theme/ thesis/ purpose i am trying to emphasize). When i get stuck i get up, do some cleaning, maybe work an another assignment just to clear my head. After I get a good amount of content on each loose leaf i piece them together Sometimes I reorganize them switch around the body paragraphs and I end up with Intro, body 3, body 1, body 2, and then conclusion. My drafting process begins and I usually try to write 2 rough drafts and revise them before turning in my best possible draft. I am not someone who can crank out a paper in a night. I have had friends tell me that my process is a lot of unnecessary hard work. But, in order for me to feel confident about writing i need to put in this unnecessary hard work to chisel and dig out my best possible draft.

Post #3 How do this week’s texts challenge the way we discussed essay on Monday?

Based on this week’s texts I feel a little out of place  in the literate environment today. I am not active an active participant in the evolution of literacy….and I don’t know if I want to be( or feel confident enough to be). There are two many demands.The NCTE definition of the 21st Century Literacies  pointed out technology has increased the intensity and complexity of literacy. If the physical world around us evolves, why can’t the process of transferring our thoughts to paper evolve? The NCTE Definition, pixelating, and with black noise proves our thoughts and essays do not have to be restricted to paper.  Although the question above is a valid question I feel very stuck in my ways when it comes to my opinion of writing an effective essay.  Maybe I’m questioning  my ability to think and write outside of the box.

Blog #2 “From a History and Poetics of the Essay”

According to “From a History and Poetics of the Essay” written by Jeff Porter, the original understanding of the essay concentrated on the essayist exploring their own character; their experiences and consciousness.  Furthermore the “trademark” of the essay is its intimacy, “the human voice addressing an imagined audience”. I had not thought of ‘essays’ as explorations or an intimate process before reading the article. It made a little more sense to me when I learned the word “essay” comes from the French “essai”. In its verb form  “essayer” means to try out or experiment.  For the earliest writer’s what would be more intimate than converting an abstract experimental unit, thought,  into the fixed form of a sentence?

It’s funny… my early essays like the earliest forms of essays were disorderly, rambling and disjointed. But not because my essays were playful and intimate experiences or because I let my consciousness freely flow from my mind to paper. They were disorderly, according to my freshmen English professor because I did not have a clear thesis or argument, my papers lacked supporting evidence, and overall they lacked structure. I had no clue as to what a thesis was my freshmen year. In my honest opinion I believed my essays were structured; they were written formally, there was an intro, a couple body paragraphs, and a conclusion. That is structure right?

My sophomore year of high school, my essay writing had gotten a little better. I had learned the MAGIC THESIS STATEMENT; By looking at (after reading/ analyzing)_______the reader can see that __________this is important because. Excuse my language, but to high school Marina this shit was gold. You plug it what you read, with what you took from it and then apply how it relates to or affects our world today. But remember your thesis goes at the very beginning or end of your introduction. This is what the institutionalized written essay looks like; a formula where you plug in whatever you want but just remember to follow the rules of providing evidence to support your thesis, avoid weak verbs like is and are, and don’t so to repetitive. And conclusions…. wrap up your essay without cutting it to short, also restate your thesis but not word for word like the one in your intro, and then tell the reader why it matters now in the most interesting way you can that will effect them just enough to think about what your wrote.

The essay has diverged from adaptable and has become fixed. I feel like it has become fixed because of the lack of intimacy involved in writing essays. Even in its most structured form, early essays were pieces of writing that could be informal or formal that gave the authors OWN argument. As authors of essays today we no longer give our own arguments. We aren’t writing pieces from our own experiences. My essays don’t display my character or give insight to my consciousness. I write/ wrote essays in school to argue someone else’s argument, to prove someone else’s point. Essays have become more direct and less intimate…..