The Ways Culture and Identity are Presented in poem Search for My Tongue

The Ways Culture and Identity are Presented in poem Search for My Tongue

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In this essay I am going to compare the poems search for my tongue and
half-caste to show how they both relate to culture but are different
in the ways they approach the subject.

Search for my tongue is about conflict between two cultures, English-
we know this because it is written in English and Indian- we know this
because of the seven lines of Gujerati used which is an Indian
language. It also is about how you have to learn new language when you
move to a different culture, and how you almost forget your 'mother
tongue'

'...your mother tongue would rot,

Rot and die until you had to

Spit it out'

Half-caste also shows conflict between cultures but, it is shown in a
different way. The poem is talking directly to you as if you have just
made a comment or a snide remark about the fact the poet has a mixed
cultural background, and gives you a reply using examples of the
different meanings the term half-caste can have.

'You mean when light an shadow Mix in de sky'

However having a mixed cultural background could be an advantage
because if you lived in one culture, and moved to the other you
wouldn't forget parts of the other as quickly as you would then if you
only had one culture because you would be used to having two in your
life. This is a way in which the poems are linked in with each other
because search for my tongue shows that it is easy to forget a part of
your culture and half-caste tries to show that having two cultures is
not a disadvantage.

Another similarity between the two poems is that they are both in the
first person and they both are talking to you as if you have asked
them a question. In search for my tongue this is emphasized by the
first word 'you', but in half-caste it is not seen until the fourth
line

'Explain yuselfwha yu mean when yu say half-caste'

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This quote also shows another similarity between the two, they both
have uses of non-standard English. Search for my tongue uses
non-standard English on line 15 to show that English is not the poets
'mother tongue' whereas half-caste uses it all the way through and is
spelt phonetically.

The seven lines of gujerati with a phonetic version in search for my
tongue, also helps to show what the poets 'mother tongue' is.

Another language technique used is an extended metaphor in search for
my tongue. This is a difference between the two because half-caste
doesn't use any metaphors at all. The extended metaphor is line 31-38
and the poet describes the language as being a flower, saying that it
grows like a flower does, saying that it grows from 'a stump of a
shoot' and eventually blossoms out in her mouth.

The language and language techniques used help to create certain moods
within the poem and helps to show the poets feelings. In search for my
tongue I felt that the poet showed anger, lines 1-4 show the poet
being very defensive when answering the question, I also feel
frustration when the poet talks about the 'mother tongue' rotting and
dying on lines 10-14 and I also felt happiness that the 'mother
tongue' does reappear and that she has not forgotten it. This is on
lines 36-38. In the poem half-caste the mood is mostly the same except
for there is no happiness. Anger is shown all the way from line 4-46
and only calms down at the end. It also shows frustration that someone
could say such a thing to him. I agree that the poet should feel this
way as there are many advantages coming from a mixed culture, you get
to have different experiences that others won't have, you get to learn
more and have a greater number of friends.

These poems are alike in many ways but both have different structural
forms. Search for my tongue has only one long stanza which is broken
in the middle by seven lines of language, but half-caste has four
stanzas, 2 long and 2 short. I have also noticed that in half-caste
there is no use of punctuation but in place of full stops is a forward
slash. This is to create a pause without stopping the continuous
speech. The shape of the poem emphasizes the stanzas importance it
starts off with a small stanza, where the anger is building up,
followed by two long stanzas where the anger and frustration are being
expressed and one last small stanza in which he is calm again and has
put his point across.

The poems search for my tongue and half-caste have a number of
similarities and differences, but both show understanding of ways that
different cultures, and by showing belonging to different cultures,
can affect peoples lives in good and bad ways. The poets show emotions
through these poems mainly by using different language techniques and
altering the structure of the poem. This gives us incite into what
people feel when cultures clash and how it affects them.
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