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Hannah Edwards

Stephanie Maenhardt

English 1050

July 4, 2017

Essay 1: Othering and Rhetorical Analysis

Othering and Rhetorical Analysis

What is othering? What is stereotyping? Many people would define these as

separate things, in very different classes. But, they are the same thing. When you

google othering, the exact definition is, View or treat (a person or group of people) as

intrinsically different from and alien to oneself. It makes sense that othering would be

undesirable. Googles definition of stereotype is, A widely held but fixed and

oversimplified image or idea of a particular type of person or thing. Usually when

people are viewed or treated different or alienated, it is because the viewer, or the

judger, is viewing them as stereotypical. This is not right. It has got to change. There are

many situations where this takes place.

One situation I found interesting was the one with Ellis Island and Angel Island.

Both of these islands are immigration centers. Angel Island was typically set aside for

the Chinese immigrants. Since the Chinese were the minority, they were treated like

garbage. The Chinese would come to America and they offered to work for cheaper
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than the typical American. The Americans got upset and they started imprisoning

Chinese immigrants until they could prove to have a blood related family to be able to

stay in America. To prove this, they were interrogated up to the smallest details about

their relatives. Some wished they stayed in their home country and didn't come to

America at all. Ellis Island is a little different in a way. It was chosen for immigrants

because no one would let the immigration settle anywhere else, and no one wanted to

be on the island. Most of the early immigrants were sent there and more than half of

them were let into the United States. At Ellis Island, they would check for different

illnesses, and if they found someone with an illness they would chalk them with a letter,

making it easily known to everyone around them what they had, or suspected of having.

The letters were labeled as so, E-eye trouble, K-hernia, L-lameness, X-mental defect,

H-heart disease. If they werent treated as the minority, there wouldnt have been so

much suffering.

In the story about Lu it states that she viewed language as a tool for survival. I

feel as though one reason she felt it was a tool to survival is because her parents told

her it was the only way she could be successful. Apparently, her fathers father couldnt

be a success because he knew little to no English. I believe the real reason he was

unsuccessful was because he was treated as an alian. Her father was successful

because he was very good at speaking English. Because he decided to blend in with

the majority then he became successful? Although it isnt wrong to learn English, he

shouldnt have had to learn it just to be successful. With hearing about her

grandparents, Lu probably felt as though those were her only two options in life, learn

English and be a success, or dont and fail at life. As she learned English and still spoke
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a whole new language at home, she started mixing them up. Those around her would

look at her as though she was an alien. Soon she was too afraid to speak another

language in front of those who were unable to understand her. Because she would over

think and didnt want to be alienated she got very self-conscious and started having

voices in her head. By having voices in my mind I imagined she really did have voices

in her mind. As she would try to talk to her classmates at school she probably second

guessed herself with every word, and would be fighting herself in her head over ever

little conversation. For school, she read the book The Revolutionary Family. As she

read the book, she was moved by the heroines internal conflict and wrote about this.

She soon realized that was unacceptable to be writing about a war heroine in a way that

would make her sound week and this would be unacceptable for a school paper. Her

mother and sister were moved with many of the different books but, Lu felt to

embarrassed to tell them that she was moved with a school book. She could just hear

the different things her family or those at school would say so, she hid the paper in her

drawer never to be seen by her family or those at school. So, as you can see,

sometimes we alienate ourselves. We second guess ourselves, put ourselves down and

we can be the ones that make us feel like the minority. Although she was more of a

minority than most of her classmates, with the voices in her head all day every day, it

did enhance the feeling of isolation and differentness. Even after all these experiences,

she can still say I am grateful for the overwhelming complexity of the circumstances in

which I grew up. For it is this complexity that kept me from losing sight of the effort and

choice involved in reading or writing with and through a discourse.


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How to Tame a Wild Tongue I first found it a little confusing how the writer

would go from Spanish to English to the other languages she had a little confusing. It

was a little annoying because I had no clue what she was saying. I didnt understand

why the writer would write in another language when they know their audience is

English. I thought to myself, that is what society does to people. They put into your mind

that everyone must be the same, speak the same language, have a certain style. But as

I read on I found the reason. I didnt even realize she is trying to put us in her shoes.

The only thing I could think of was how much of an alien she is and how different she is.

All she is trying to do is make the reader realize how difficult it was to live in a world

where you had different languages mixed up. How difficult it was for people to

understand her. Pretty much how it feels to be alienated. After I looked past all the

stereotypes, I found it very interesting that she would use different languages to tell her

story. I believe most readers would appreciate reading such an interesting story. I was

reading through the story then all the sudden it was a different language. At first, I just

skipped over the Spanish words. I could tell the story was missing quite a bit when I

would skip over the words. So, I started trying to read the Spanish words and the story

seemed much more complete. Even though I only understood some of them with only

taking one semesters worth of Spanish in high school. After reading How to Tame a

Wild Tongue it made me wonder how difficult it would have been living in a borderland.

When half the people spoke one language and the other spoke a different language, it

would have been very hard. I imagine that although quite a few people of the borderland

probably spoke a mix of English and Spanish, I dont think their mixes where quite the

same. And this would make it quite difficult to communicate with the different people of
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the land. I felt like her language was robbed from her when she would talk to Chicano

Spanish, standard English, north Mexican Spanish, or Pachuco. This made her feel as

though she couldnt really talk to them because she was different. She didnt quite

speak the language perfectly or she would accidentally mix the different languages.

Out of all of the different stories I have read throughout this semester my favorite

by far is Tans essay Mother Tongue. Although all of the stories I read have been

interesting, there is something about this one that just gets me. The main thing I like

about it is its a daughter talking about her mom and you can almost feel the love she

has for her.

Tan says that experts believe that a persons developing language skills are

more influenced by peers; yet she thinks that family is more influential, especially in

immigrant families. I agree with both. I think while developing a language some people

are more influenced by peers and others by family. This depends on what type of

association they have with each one. With me, I believe I was more influenced by my

family because of how close I was and how much I grew to love them. With another

person, it might be peers because they cant stand their family and would do anything to

get away from them. Tan goes on to say that even those who their first language is

English, they too speak different Englishs. I agree that everyone speaks different

Englishs. With me I speak a different English at work than I do at home. When I am

home talking with my husband I can just let loose and be me. I feel as though I can say

whatever I want. And I do. But at work its different. I feel like I must smile all the time

and use full sentences to sound more professional in the work place. I do agree with
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Tan when she talks about how she doesnt like the term Broken English. As sad as it

sounds, I cant think of a better term though. That phrase makes it sound like they are

unintelligent and dont understand anything. It might make people think they are not as

entitled as others to different things.

I loved reading each of these papers. I found them very interesting and they have

actually taught me a lot. Usually when I would go to the store and I could tell the

cashiers first language wasnt English, I would think less of them. Its not their fault their

first language isnt English. Also, now that I think about it, who really is smarter or more

intelligent. The person who has grown up speaking English or the one who grew up

speaking something entirely different and learned English and can understand it very

well. I dont think anyone would disagree with me when I say the one who worked hard

to learn another language just to get by.


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Works Cited

Anzalduo, Gloria. How to Tame a Wild Tongue. Reading Culture. George, Diana

and thing and Trimbur, John. 8th ed. Boston: Pearson, 2012. (521-528). Print.

Gordon, Mary. More Than Just a Shrine: Paying Homage to the Ghosts of Ellis Island.

and thin Reading Culture. George, Diana and Trinbur, John. 8th ed. Boston: Pearson,

and thin 2012. (431-434). Print.

Lu, Min-Zhan. From Silence to Words: Writing as a Struggle. Reading Culture. and

thin George, Diana and Trinbur, John. 8th ed. Boston: Pearson, 2012. (147-156).

thin Print.

Lum, Lyndia. Angel Island History. http://www.angel-island.com/history.html Website.

Tan, Amy. Mother Tongue.

http://www.sjsu.edu/people/julie.sparks/courses/Engl-117B-spr2016/Mother-

Tongue-by-Amy-Tan.pdf Website.