Public and Private Language

881 words 4 pages
Public and Private language:
A review of the essay Private Language, Public Language by Richard Rodriquez
In Richard Rodriguez’s article Private Language, Public Language Rodriguez uses his introduction to language to show the difference, to him, between his home language, of Spanish, and that of what he considers public, that of English. Language as he says is separated by “Just opening or closing the screen door,” it was the difference between being home in his own language and being in the world of the gringos, or white English speaking person.
Rodriquez had a very poetic way to describe what he was hearing. He describes his parents English as “high- whining vowels and guttural consonants” and so he didn’t see English
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For a family does not simply speak a language, but with visual cues and the development of the way a family talks to each other dictates a family’s language. Listening in a family meal is a lesson in the differences between typical Spanish or English and the family versions of such. Now as a bilingual man with degrees in English and having written 3 major books and many articles, Rodriquez is well accustomed to speaking English, but he still has times when hearing a new language will throw him into memories and he is again able to hear the “high sounds of American voices.” But where Rodriquez once felt as an outsider he now feels pleasure, for it is the sound as he says “of my society- a reminder of home.” No longer is English a language of outsiders but rather that of his own home now. Once a scared little boy confused by the bombardment of odd guttural noises, Richard Rodriquez is now a man; he is still comforted by his home language, but comfortable in the language of the “Public” as well.

Russell, Tony, Allen Brizee, and Elizabeth Angeli. "MLA Formatting and Style Guide." The Purdue OWL. Purdue U Writing Lab, 4 Apr. 2010. Web. 20 July 2010.

Rodriguez, Richard. “Private Language, Public Language.” Strategies for Successful Writing: A Rhetoric, Research Guide, Reader, and Handbook. Ninth Edition. Brad Potthoff. Pearson Education Inc. 2011. 534-538.


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