Espada's Criticism: The Definitions Of Bilingualism

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As I have read multiple articles about what bilingualism means I have come to understand that it’s more complex than just speaking two or more languages. The Merriam-Webster dictionary provides three definitions of bilingualism: (1) the ability to speak two languages, (2) the frequent use (as by a community) of two languages, and (3) the political or institutional recognition of two languages. Espada’s view of bilingualism seems more in line with the third definition and Rodriguez’s view identifies with the second one. I have developed my personal view as a mix of the second and third definitions. Although Merriam-Webster provides concrete definitions for bilingualism, people like Espada, Rodriguez, and myself have developed our own interpretation…show more content…
For example Espada feels if he, as an immigrant, lives in the United States he relinquishes his native language, Spanish, so he can learn English, and this means losing a major connection with his native cultural identity. He prefers Americans accept and respect immigrants speaking their native tongue and have Americans learn Spanish instead of immigrants having to learn English. Espada’s comment, “there are too many in this country who would amputate the Spanish tongue” (Espada 4) exemplifies how passionate Espada feels about having a second language as part of a person’s…show more content…
He also talks about if his teachers did not push him to speak English he would not have learned the language as easy. He states, “ I would have felt much less afraid. I would have delayed- for long postponed?- having to learn the language of public society” (Rodriguez 4). His teachers forced him to learn the public language, but that also encouraged his family to learn too. Now knowing the public language, they speak it more fluently and regularly. Rodriguez vocalizes “ Most of all I needed to hear my mother and father speak to me in a moment of seriousness in broken-suddenly heartbreaking- English” (Rodriguez 6). He also states “ But I had no place to escape to with Spanish” (Rodriguez 22). Rodriguez feels his family no longer carries a connection with their private language and he no longer has a safe place to speak Spanish. Because Rodriguez realises this he states “No longer so close; no longer bound tight by the pleasing and the troubling knowledge of our public separateness” (Rodriguez 8). Since his family invited the public language in they have let their private language out. His family no longer has this feeling of

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