It is often said that there is a public language and a private language. Education plays a role in shaping both of these languages. The way we use language in public settings such as school or work is often different from the way we use it in private settings with family and friends.
There are a number of factors that influence our choice of words in different contexts. For example, we might choose to use more formal language in public settings in order to appear professional or knowledgeable. In private settings, on the other hand, we might feel more comfortable using slang or jargon that only our close friends would understand.
The distinction between public and private language is not always clear-cut, however. There are times when we might use more informal language in public settings, such as when we’re telling a joke or trying to be friendly with someone we’ve just met. And there are also times when we might use more formal language in private settings, such as when we’re discussing a serious issue with a family member.
Ultimately, the choice of whether to use public or private language is up to the individual. But it’s important to be aware of the different connotations that each type of language can have, and to use them appropriately in different situations.
In Richard Rodriguez’s essay Private Language, Public Language, the distinction between his native language, Spanish, and what he perceives to be public English is demonstrated. As he states, language is divided by “simply opening or closing the screen door,” and it was the difference between being at home in his own language and being among the gringos, or white English-speaking people.
Education for Rodriguez was the key to success, and he knew that in order to get ahead in the world he had to learn English and excel at it. Education gave him the ability to transcend his home life and make a place for himself in the public domain. Unlike Rodriguez, Raymond Carver in his essay My Education: A Book of Dreams does not see education as a means to an end but rather as something that has value in and of itself.
Carver’s education comes from books, which he started reading at an early age and has never stopped. His love of literature has given him a way to escape the hard realities of his life, and has provided him with a deep well of knowledge that he can draw upon. For Carver, education is not a tool to be used to get ahead in the world, but rather a source of enjoyment and solace.
Despite their different approaches to language and education, Rodriguez and Carver both see the value in learning English. For Rodriguez, it is a necessary tool for success, while for Carver it is a source of pleasure and knowledge. In either case, English has played an important role in their lives, and has helped them to achieve their goals.
Rodríguez’ description of the voices was very poetic. He refers to his parents’ English as “high-whining vowels and grumbling consonants,” so he didn’t think of it as beautiful but rather as noise. When a woman in the pharmacy spoke to him, he wrote, “exotic polysyllabic utterances would blossom in the midst of their remarks.”
He also felt that because his parents could not speak English fluently and had accents, “they could not fully enter into the life of their adopted country.”(Rodriguez, 82) This made him feel as if he needed to choose between his private language and public language in order to succeed.
When he was around his family he spoke Spanish and when he was out in the public he spoke English. This is a struggle that many immigrants face when they come to a new country. They are not just learning a new language but a whole new culture. Many times they have to give up parts of their own culture in order to assimilate into the new one.
Finally, he offers his own opinions on the language by the tone of the speaker: “The man behind the counter…Having such a firm and clear demeanor,” and that because he was so firm and clear he was recognized as a gringo. These Gringos weren’t speaking his native language, so everything was fuzzy and open. He claims that los gringos’ accent was never pleasant to listen to or difficult to understand.
It is the same with people who second language is English. They know just enough to get by, and they use it in public places because they have to. Richard Rodriguez uses examples of his own life to explain the difference between public and private language. When he was younger he had to go to Catholic school where he was not allowed to speak Spanish, so he had to learn English quickly.
He began by translating everything into Spanish in his head, which made him very exhausted. He says that this experience has “made me ever more conscious of being bilingual,” which has given him “a certain amount of reserve about using either language.” So now when he speaks in public he uses proper English, but when he is at home with his family he reverts back to Spanish.
It is important to have a private language, because that is where you can be yourself. You don’t have to worry about making mistakes or sounding foolish, because nobody knows you better than the people in your own home. Your private language is a part of your identity, and it should be cherished. Education is important, but so is maintaining your roots and who you are.
This article explores the idea of public and private language, and how it affects bilingual individuals. Rodriguez discusses his own experiences with learning English as a second language, and how it has made him more aware of being bilingual. He also describes how having a private language allows him to maintain his identity and roots. This article is important because it highlights the importance of bilingual education, and how it can help second language learners maintain their cultural identity.