Essay on Roger Williams' A Key Into the Language of America

Essay on Roger Williams' A Key Into the Language of America

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Roger Williams' A Key Into the Language of America


During American colonial times, the native peoples of the new world clashed often with the English settlers who encroached upon their lifestyle. Many horror stories and clichés arose about the natives from the settlers. As one might read in Mary Rowlandson’s Narrative, often these disputes would turn to violence. To maintain the process of the extermination of the natives alongside Christian moral beliefs, one of the main tenets of colonial life was the belief that the natives were “savages”; that they were morally and mentally inferior to the English that settled there. As is the case with many societies, certain voices of dissent began to spin. These voices questioned the assertions of the English about the natives. They refused to accept the seemingly immoral acts committed by both sides as an inevitable process. And they wished to learn more. Among these voices rose that of Roger Williams.

In his work A Key into the Language of America, Williams learned the language of the natives and assembled his findings into a reference-type manual. However, to learn their language, one can imagine the countless conversations the author must have listened to and taken part in. This implies that Williams must have completed a quite thorough editing job on his work. In other words, the words that Williams chooses to translate to the reader must prove their own point and have their own agenda. He goes so far as to state an “implicit dialogue” exists in his work (Williams 338). In this way, Williams has essentially established a second voice for himself. He has established himself as the liaison between the English world and that of the natives. By creating a multi-voiced narrat...


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...erience all of the same feelings and emotions that one prides one's self upon experiencing? The author creates such a strong sense of identity in humanity between the two societies that it seems difficult that the stereotypes and clichés continued to exist after the work's publication.

Williams becomes a master of the multiple-speaker device. Three voices collating different perspectives create a persuasive narrative on several levels of debate. In fact, the author’s use of this device created a sense of layering that could not otherwise have been achieved. Every point the Williams made, for example received justification on multiple levels for multiple purposes. Such is the nature of this device. Williams applied it for an emotional and logical duet of persuasion, but the implication of these factors creates a multiplication of compulsion for the reader.

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