It was exciting to see what people had to say about our first question. It got me thinking that as a bilingual educator-FOR LIFE-I am finding that language is very misunderstood. In these times of looking down upon Spanish, immigrants, ebonics, we often forget that each language is beautiful and evolving. It is ever reflective of our place and time in the world. Nancy enlightens us with her words, "...could the f word come from "fuck you" and could fuku americanus be really as simple as "fuck you americans". Maybe the fuck you was returned to a Dominican and since we all [know] the strength of the return Fuck you, it probably stuck as a damnation..who knows..I am still savoring on that." There is no right language or wrong language. There is however power in crafting a phenomenal message.
Junot does this exceptionally well. I get his FLOW! The flow of mixing languages, thoughts that communicate. As ixchel33 put it, ”Seamless is a good word, I hadn't even noticed that there were words in Spanish, I didn't bat an eye when I read them” Why? ‘Cause the message is clear...well, at least for bilingual/bicultural readers.
Maureen shares the perspective of a non-native speaker of Spanish, “ Diaz just puts in the Spanish and lets you deal with it.” Rich says, "I say, no italics for Sterling Brown*, no italics for Junot Diaz. We're knee-deep in the new American idiom, y'all. Whether or not some folks are ready to accept that, of course, is a whole other story." Language is powerful!
I remember when I first discovered that I spoke Spanglish in my early twenties. I looking up at the sky (or my brain) searching for the best word after speaking English that would describe my thinking. This word was in Spanish not English! Ah yes…perfect! Is that what Junot did as he wrote Oscar Wao? How beautiful to be able to do that with your mind. Have one powerful message using words from different languages.
Walter Mosley, author of Devil in a Blue Dress and Blonde Faith states that Wao “is a book that speaks in tongues”. In more ways than one! Not only is Junot speaking to us in ethnic tongues, his references of sci-fi and comic books are definitely specific to a segment of American pop-culture language, and he also speaks in the tongue of Latin American history. Maybe, just maybe this is why La Mujer Maravilla (Love your tag name!) says, " The language seems more authentic."
“I’ll think of African slaves screaming this curse word from the depths of their pain,” Jessica points out in reference to the word Fukú (Zafa! Just to be safe ;) Do you see the impact…the image…the context…the history that it brings? What a wonderful way to engage in history. Alejandra Ibañez captured my sentiments exactly, “It left me yearning to learn more about Dominican history.” I wonder if we can use this book with young people in high school?
*"In 1933 Sterling Brown published his first book of poetry Southern Road. It was a collection of poetry with rural themes and treated the simple lives of poor, black, country folk with poignancy and dignity. It also used authentic dialect and structures..." --from wikipedia