Taking Language: Its Complicated

The exchange between Rowlandson and the native Algonquians does complicate the history of intolerance against indigenous people during the English colonization of eastern North America. Looking at the way Rowlandson uses certain words from the Algonquian language it definitely suggests that there is more to the dynamic between Rowlandson and the natives. The cross-linguistic aspect of Rowlandson’s writing is surprising because it is at odds with the blatant racism in her writing. To accept Algonquian culture through its language makes me think that perhaps Rowlandson knew deep down that there were fewer differences than others would have her believe.

Not only does she adopt certain words that are related to family but the aspects of her story that relate to family are not as explicit as they could be. So perhaps in adopting some of the language it becomes inevitable that she would adopt some of the culture. This certainly complicates the history between the two groups because it suggests that despite all the tragedies there were situations in which people were not completely against each other.

By Diana Lara


Tomy’s Explorations

Tomy’s Exploration

Chapter 8

The blogger can relate to resemblance to the Moples. The perfectionism of the Bonobolopos.

My Master Bonobolopos implored me to visit the dry desert nests–from the little I understood with his body language– in order for me to observe the nature of the Moples for I did not see the resemblance to humans. Of course I could not pass up that opportunity for I as a blogger had the biggest opportunity of a lifetime to create a story that had never been written about outside my own universe. That is until I return back to my wifi connection. Moples lived in really disgusting desert conditions with dry heats and freezing temperature. They attacked each other, they seem to be like the way snowflakes live. Their screeches were daunting but they most of all they were shamed for being so wrinkly naked. They seem to divide each other, but my question was ‘for what if they all seem to hate each other equally.’ That made me think their form of communication was sort of similar, the screeches they made as they came out of their caves and began to interact with, it was somewhat comical to watch each other fight over unnecessary situations.
Upon my return from the Moples nesting grounds, I was able to convince my master Bonobolopo to have an interview on the daily lives of their culture. Unlike the Moples, my masters Bonobolopo body language came really easy and natural to learn. I had never noticed that each interaction was more personal and rarely was there any need for more than two people to communicate with each other. Although the body language was a bit slower, it was more efficient because a response would answer more than what was originally asked for with great ease. It was more difficult to translate the reason I was doing the interview, and what purpose it had for our human culture. The language has a more calm nature and the technology that they did have only served to warn each other of dangers and to help each other navigate through dangers instead of exasperate each other on the different views they had. This calm nature in their culture reflected in their interactions Whatever disagreement one had with the other person was gone before they would finish their thoughts because there was no noise disruption in the bonobolopo’s conversations from fear of looking like the Moples.
My first question for my Master Bonobolopo was why they did not try to conversate with speech. Which to my surprise, his reply was really simple ‘we do not use speech because communication is distorted in that form, such as the Moples schreech seem to get in the way of their comfort and create boundaries of oposition.’ For my master was correct, I had so much difficulty trying to find the correct sounds in my head to translate this much onto my word doc, even emojis were useless. He continued by explaining that they had studied the Moples and their discovery showed that they tend to prefer certain sounds and divided each other’s communities despite each of them despising each other anyways. He called speech a deformity in which any other creature used was would be doomed to destroy themselves.
He continue not noticing that he had answered several of other questions I had in mind. Like my second question, ‘why do you all not wear any clothing?’ to which his previous explanation manage to be answered. His reply went as so, ‘we don’t wear “clothing” which he referred to as fur, do to the fact that they had no word for clothing. His reasoning was because nature had already provided them with natural fur that covered every aspect of their body. Which he argued that if nature did not provide a group of species with the right equipment, then that society was meant to be chaotic and not peaceful. But I would disagree, if you primates want to place yourself in a pedestal of perfectionism that’s okay, but don’t tell me that your ways and your simple language is better than our most advanced form of communication because we have better form of living for everyone. This is Tomy’s Explorations and Those are my final notions.

The short excerpt above depicts a sort of imitation adaptation of Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels. In particular, part 4, chapter 8 of Gulliver’s travel to the land of the Yahoo!’s and the Houyhnhnm’s. As Gulliver’s Travels is already a satire Tomy’s Exploration imitates but also satirizes the way in which the story undergoes. The most obvious way in which it is imitated is the way in which takes a person from the human society and places them in the middle of two opposing society that range from chaos to perfectionism.
Taking ideas from what seem to be a combination of naked mole rats as a comparison to create the “Moples” these semi representatives of the humans from the Bonobolopo’s point of view, but not from the Tomy’s perspective. Bonobolopo’s seem to be a society of bonobos society perspective but in terms of more domesticity, ethical, and polite. Although they are not too perfect themselves, the societies they live in are exemplified by the Tomy and her Master Bonobolopo. Tomy, changes their mind about the similarities the Moples and human have not once but twice this creates a satirical form. Because it mocks the way that no one will be willingly change their ways unless they stay in that society for a long period of time, and when Tomy rants about her blog towards the end that it is all okay but once she shifts her audience thanks to the internet that she will be returning to she shifts her focus of the social norms of the world she came to, because she knows she is guaranteed that return home.

Enrique Ramos

English the Language

Language is a very convoluted subject as it is already because it is the way in which people communicate with one another. However there are many different languages that scatter the world already that help to send a sort of miscommunications with others who cannot understand the same language. English for starters was thought to be the universal language back in the day, the superior race was to “educate” those who are unable to speak it. The thought of English being a tool of suppression for others has never really occurred to me. I though that it was a means to communicate and expel thoughts but by expelling thoughts, where do these thoughts go to? Do they just become stuck in someone else head or do they become a threat to the mind in which they are being placed in? The English language is a priority as it was then, it is now. When students go to school here in the United States, instruction is always given in English and never in the language of a foreigner say Spanish or Chinese or other. People are expected to know the English language because they are from this place where the norm is English. Any other form just becomes disregarded by the fact that they are . Although the idea was not bad in thye sense that they wanted people to be able to communicate with each other without there being a miscommunication, the miscommunication still happened. They used force and violence in order to “educate” and slowly stripped others of their individualism.

-Alexis Blanco

Whitewashing Learning

By 1835, when Macaulay’s Minute was sent to the English Parliament, the English vernacular carried with it science as well as the bible. Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary helped accomplish this. It was a huge literary accomplishment: Language became a science. Just in time to save it from The Royal Society.

In English, the English found their science and their religion. But once Indian literature began to be interpreted and shared with Europe by orientalists, it posed a challenge to the English language, and the Status of English. Instead of learning and sharing knowledge with India, Macaulay advocates for a educational system that produces “-a class of persons Indian in blood and colour, but English in tastes, in opinions, in morals and in intellect.” (34).

The Status of the English improves, because of the production of ideologies that place the English in a dominant social category. How can Mecaulay suggest this, he doesn’t even know what he is talking about: ” I have no knowledge of either Sanscrit or Arabic” (10). It is a good bureaucratic move that uplifts English voices, but feeds to the cycle of white supremacy. “Indian in blood and colour.” So basically the color of their skin and their culture is reduced so low and unmoral. It’s disgusting, and  I think it feeds to the contemporary idea of “professionalism” in this country today, a world that kneels to lighter complexion and steps on anything different.

  • Israel Alonso


English: the best in the West

Here were are centuries later, far from the beginnings of when the English language started.  So, how did it get started? Pretty much the way writers like Johnson, are being highly critical of.  A melting pot, so to speak of a language, consisting of French, Spanish, Latin and Greek.  But the issue with the language doesn’t stop there. Macaulay with an ethno/eurocentric, upholding of the English language, feels appalled that there is even a debate about the matter of incorporating the teaching of the English language; and there is Ray with the strong belief that certain studies should be added to the curriculum.

While they all have different stances, and pitches when it comes to schools of thought, what they do have in common is that they disregard the afterthought of this way of thinking.  In other words, a set group of people’s way of reading, speaking, and thinking will cease to exist and, therefore, putting an end to a culture. Another common theme between all of them is that they have automatically taken on this authority, as if they all have the credibility to do so.

We have Johnson, who feels as though he has been divinely sent to correct such a mess of an entanglement, and the irony is is as he speaks ill of others forms of communication by referring to it as “jargon,” he himself, is going against the very claim he is arguing about -using specific words that most likely did not belong to his ancestral line.

Macaulay, felt that it was only through English that education could be properly transferred, and this attitude has is not far behind us..  It is still quite prevalent, and even in so much as to say that many of us whom are bilingual, have been told, directly or not, that if we choose to speak a foreign language (whatever that means), then we ought to “go back to” our “country.”

And finally, Roy, who while with what I believe had the best intentions, still intervened on the natural state of  learning in India, where the natives could have evolved with their own unique identities.

Essentially what we are looking at is the repeated act of unsolicited interference, and a lack of reciprocity when it came to learning new thoughts.  It was merely one sided teaching!

-Maricela (Marcy) Martinez

Image result for ethnocentrism comic


Cleaning a mess, to make a mess

**I will come back to this**

“insert quote we discussed in discussion here”

Samuel Johnson attempted to create a “pure” language that had structure because he thought that it was unorganized, and unclear what the meanings of words were–people were beginning to forget meanings, hence the “adultering” of the language. He believed that there was potential for the English language to become a sophisticated language, which was not going to be possible with the commerce that was going on. Again, he wanted to purify the English language.

“The Sanscrit language, so difficult that almost…”

While Ray wanted to use English to educate the Indians because he believed that their language was prohibiting them from learning about other things such as philosophy and such. Whereas the English language was easy to learn, which made it easier and gave them more time to learn about other topics–which is more ideal than spendings a lifetime simply learning a language. So English is efficient, according to Ray,

“Why then is it necessary to pay people to learn Sanscrit and Arabic? Evidently because it is universally felt that the Sanscrit and Arabic are languages the knowledge of which does not compensate for the trouble of acquiring them. On all such subjects the state of the market is the detective test.”

Macaulay supports Ray’s vision, by pointing out the absurdity about how the people/students learning Sanscrit have to be paid because it is like too much work to just learn the language.

With that being said, while Johnson wants to purify the language and keep it within a certain type of people, but his organizing of it made it an efficient language, which was easier to share and pass on to other cultures to simplify their lives. So though Macaulay and Ray don’t have the intention to make the English language have another language mixture, that’s kind of what they are doing. They are sort of “de-purifying” English.

**I will come back to this**

-Luz Palacios

Hierarchy in English

The way the English dictionary came about is really interesting. Reading the importance of the dictionary through Johnson, Macaulay, and Ray’s readings displays the history of the English words.

I really appreciated the video because it gave a short summary of the English language and how it has evolved overtime with discoveries of new words. When seeing the video it made me wonder whether the dictionary was truly created as a resource for spelling and definitions, or if it was created to establish English as a hierarchy among other languages and cultures. The way the English language was created was by taking words from other languages and making it their own. The English language is a great example of colonialism. They looked down upon other languages and made it to themselves to improve their language by turning some of their words to English, because after all anything English is automatically proven to be better, or so they thought.

Johnson mentions that many English words are derived from French and Latin, yet he deems English superior when it comes to other languages when it is not even its on language. He mentions in the preface that words in English are not made up, but are rather taken from other words and “improved” because”the former was thought inadequate” (6). Johnson believed the English language was better than every other language, yet ironically many words were derived from other languages.

-Natalia Alvarado

Right and Wrong Defined: The English Language & Johnson

Language is a thing that by nature is free, the art of communication and writing allows anyone the chance to open their minds, to illustrate complex and simple ideas to their peers. At the same time, that freedom makes dehumanization difficult by bonding two beings through communication, a chance for empathy between individuals even with completely different backgrounds. Suppose, however, one imposed rules, regulations upon language. In doing so, one immediately establishes a right and wrong, a superior and inferior use of the language. All Johnson had to do was define what he deemed was the pure English (obviously what he and his peers used) and what was weak, messy, and useless forms of the language in order to give him a chance to speak his superiority over them. The Dictionary project had its good parts, but unfortunately would mark a major milestone for dividing classes, creating a hierarchy for the English language, allowing people to have a source to refer to when lowering the type of language of a different person. What it essentially came down to were the elitists receiving another shot to speak of their class, rhythm, their elegant use, whilst at the same time establishing and ‘us vs. them’ scenario against the more ‘barbaric’ use of the language. This is something that even occurs today, traced in history with the rather forceful push for English, specifically a proper one, to be spoken even in countries like India, where the language had no reason to dominate said area. More modern examples hold certain structural frames as superior in writing classes, and it’s no surprise these frames were made by the classic ‘white male scholar’. It is important however, to trace the major milestone in which led to this ideology that established into the English language, one that seems to hold criticism and the separation of ‘good and bad’ works so desperately.

There are many hints that Samuel Johnson supports this class split, noted by his selected description of the diverse, growing status of English for the time. A language fed by a variety is one that invites everyone to contribute, and this is exactly what Johnson would call “defects” (page 3, paragraph 2). In particular, one passage highlights his disdain for a mixed language, noting that if English did not separate its pronunciation and diction from other languages it would be considered the following: “barbari[ic]”, “ignora[nt]”, “vulgar”, “weakly followed”, and it goes on throughout the course of the Preface. Johnson even declares that the continued variety of the language is representative of “authours differ in their care and skill” hinting at the fact that there is indeed a split between a “good and bad” use of English, with some better than authors.

Though cleaning up English sounded like it would have good intent, it is important to note that the lust for classes, a desirable distinction between ‘us and them’ was a definite drive for Johnson in his creation of the dictionary, one that has definitely maintained its grasp to push the current ‘scholarly’ English as a superior language. Today we still see this separation, particularly in the college atmosphere, where there is a ‘right’ way to write above others (no surprise what kinds of people set these), where broken speech of English automatically translates to some people as stupidity, where in some cases one can only find the literature of the white, educated male highlighted, when certain groups of people call out and attack others when a language other than English is used (this notion of, we live in America, speak English etc. etc.). Sadly it all traces back to this intent drive to make English a more independent, selective tool. First English would be separated from its diversity, to purge common and multiculturalism within it, then this pure version of the language would be held above all, as the dominant form of communication. English was and still is, a beautiful language indeed, if one embraces its diverse roots. If not, it becomes yet another weapon to cultivate separation and dehumanization, and it all traces back to this.


-William Fernandez

Language as the Mediator of Knowledge

With the introduction of Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary in 1755, came a heightened sense of preserving the English language. The original intent, as manifested in Johnson’s Preface to the English Dictionary, reveals that Johnson himself was vexed with the idea of capturing and defining all the English words circulating during that time in order to provide the English people with a point of reference for their language. Johnson endeavored nine years to provide the English people with a lexicon, and as a plea for his work to be the end-all-be-all, he urged the public to put an end to the formation of new words writing: “those who have been persuaded to think well of my design, require that it should fix our language, and put a stop to those alterations which time and chance have hitherto been suffered to make in it without opposition” (Johnson 84). Johnson and like-minded lexicographers attempted a fruitlessly to wrangle the English language and cement it from ever evolving further.

The source, Johnson alleges, of the language’s pollution (the reason why it keeps changing) lies in the introduction of new speakers. He cites one of the key contaminators of the English language those that are strangers of it. Commerce, he argues is the mediator of such contamination:

“Commerce, however necessary, however lucrative, as it depraves the manners, corrupts the language; they that have frequent intercourse with strangers, to whom they endeavour to accommodate themselves, must in time learn a mingled dialect, like the jargon which serves the traffickers on Mediterranean and Indian coasts” (Johnson 86).

But Johnson articulated that such variegation of the English language would not happen immediately, seeing as

“Total and sudden transformations of a language seldom happen; conquests and migrations are now very rare: but there are other causes of change, which, though slow in their operation, and invisible in their progress, are perhaps as much superiour to human resistance, as the revolutions of the sky, or intumescence of the tide” (Johnson 86).

What Johnson could not foresee was the British colonization of India and their subsequent integration into the education (or lack of) of Indian studies. With the dissemination of the English language into India, theoretically, left unmitigated, new words should have been sprouting up. But the British woefully and thoughtfully mediated Indian education by denying them access to the English language. Rammohun Roy, in his letter to Lord Amherst, wrote of the disillusion he experienced when he had hoped the British would expand their knowledge, but instead perpetrated the same knowledge they had been aware of for years:

“While we looked forward with pleasing hope to the dawn of knowledge thus promised to the rising generation, our hearts were filled with mingled feelings of delight and gratitude; we already offered up thanks to Providence for inspiring the most generous and enlightened of the Nations of the West with the glorious ambitions of planting in Asia the Arts and Sciences of modern Europe. We now find that the Government are establishing a Sangscrit school…[where] the pupils will there acquire what was known two thousand years ago, with the addition of vain and empty subtleties…” (Roy 144).

What is perhaps the most interesting part of this narrative of the English language, is that the British, in attempting to purify the language and set it apart from the contaminating mouths of foreigners, were also abetting the repression of knowledge, seeing as “intellectual improvement of those classes of the people who have the means of pursuing higher studies can at present be affected only by means of some language not vernacular amongst them” (Macaulay 8). Thomas Macaulay, in his letter, calls language not only the means by which the Indians can reach a higher intellect, but the means by which they too can operate on the same civilized platform as the British, considering “The languages of western Europe civilized Russia. I cannot doubt that they will do for the Hindoo what they have done for the Tartar” (Macaulay 16). If we take away Macaulay intrinsic superiority over the Indians, which Macaulay self-professes if I might add (“The intrinsic superiority of the Western literature is indeed fully admitted by those members of the committee who support the oriental plan of education” (Macaulay 10)), what we are left with is a genuine argument that the dissemination of knowledge begins with the dissemination of language.

This is perhaps the most dangerous part of integrating language—the presupposition that one language or one race carries more knowledge than the other—into a country regardless of whether or not it is being colonized. It’s colonization status if anything only heightens the danger, conjuring feels of elitism and perpetrating the racist idea of taming the East. It is only with the willing submission of and the equal sharing of both languages can the dissemination of language and therefore the dissemination of knowledge escape the clutches of racism. But we all know how that turned out, didn’t we?

-Sara Nuila-Chae

The Enlightenment Discourse: A Fiction

Give it up for Samuel Johnson for being maniacal enough to write out the English dictionary. Although some could make the argument that we do, it seems that we do not often question whether our language is fit enough to be considered civilized. It is no surprise that Samuel Johnson prefaced his dictionary as if it were a manifesto ready to civilize the mouths of the English speakers—considering the fact that he is a familiar face of the Enlightenment. Like the other languages of the Western world, English is rooted primarily in Latin, but it also gained influence from other languages that were already fathered by Latin, like French. Johnson takes note of this in page 3 of his book, as he explains how they “had dominions in France.” Interestingly enough, he talks about how church service was ironically still in Latin, while this was going on, which must have created a cacophony of languages and dialects. In other words, English was formed in a crucible of languages, which disturbed people like Johnson who wished to see uniformity in their society.

In retrospect, we can see how the Enlightenment led to colonialism. Concepts like taxonomy and categorization were a solid pedestal where Westerners like the British were able to stand on and cast a gaze on foreigners while taking colonial power. Thomas Babington Macaulay assumes this power way too comfortably in the 19th century when describing “the intrinsic superiority of the Western literature” in his essay “Minute”. Macaulay is writing in response to making English a primary language in India while they were colonizing it, and proudly states he does not know anything about the language but has known enough to make an all-encompassing judgment to render their language inferior. As brutally racist and ignorant as this may be, it is following suit from the bias that Samuel Johnson had for the English language, even though he ironically held it in a lower regard. As Johnson was trying to be objective in describing why he chose to write “entire” rather than “intire” because the latter came from Latin and not French, for example, Johnson reveals that he is actually being subjective and bias. He confuses objectivity with what he strongly believes should dictate the English language, and this shows his dictionary is more a work of his own and NOT the English language. Just as much as Samuel Johnson’s pretenses for what dictates the English language are a FICTION, so are Macaulay’s claims that Western language should dictate the lives of foreigners.

–Cesar R