Communication has always been the root ofhumanity since the beginning of time. It is the way that one person deliversinformation to the next. We tend to communicate via body language and verballanguage, with verbal language being the more common form. With eachcommunication there is a different language and dialect to be learned.
Thelanguage that we speak is usually taught to us by our parents at an early age.However, as we grow older our ability to learn a foreign language depreciatesand the task becomes more difficult than we once remembered. In “Speaking in Tongues” written by ZadieSmith and “The Nomads of Language” by Ariel Dorfman, both articles demonstratethe struggle of balancing more than one language. Smith loses her chance atspeaking in different languages due to her voice being forced to change withoutresistance due to an environmental change while Dorfman struggled with learninghow to embrace his bilingualism.
Despite everyone not being lucky to be taughtmultiple languages from birth, however I feel that overtime we should be moreaccepting and more open to becoming multilingual not only to increase our brainpower, but to discover new cultures, travel freely, and improve employability.Even though, there may be struggles upon learning the multiple languages, it’snothing but an advantage to have throughout your lifetimeFamiliarizingyourself with an amble amount of languages and dialects is not the easiestthing to do and in “Speaking in Tongues,” by Zadie Smith you get an idea of hardit really is. While initially, Smith introduced herself as a single voice womandue to the voice she picked up during her time studying in Cambridge.Throughout her article she commends everyone who is able to not only retain thevoice they learned from their parents at a young age, but who is also able tospeak in multiple voices because that is something that she failed toaccomplish. Smith’s article really hit home for me, because as a JamaicanAmerican, I have too experienced what she have experienced. A part of thearticle that really stood out to me was when Smith stated “This voice I speak with these days, thisEnglish voice with its rounded vowels and consonants in more or less the rightplace-this is not the voice of my childhood.
I picked it up in college, alongwith the unabridged Clarissa and a taste for port. Maybe this fact is only whatit seems to be – a case of bald social climbing-but at the time, I genuinelythought this was the voice of lettered people, and that if l didn’t have the voiceof lettered people, I would never truly be lettered.” Throughout my life, I have witnessed myaunt who once had a strong Jamaican accent train herself to having a Jamaicanaccent that is hardly even noticeable since her move to the United States. Myaunt, like Smith decided that it would be best to change her voice fromlower/middle class to upper class because she felt as if it would help hersucceed on the social scale and that people would take her field would take hermore if she spoke more like them. In the beginning, Smith was able to basicallylive a double life with her voices, speaking her original voice when shevisited home and then turning back on her “upper class” voice, when back atCambridge, but sadly it got too hard to manage.
In paragraph two, she quotes “recently my double voice has deserted me for asingle one, reflecting the smaller world into which my work has led me.Willesden was a big, colorful, working class sea: Cambridge was a smaller,posher pond, and almost univocal; the literary world is a puddle. This voice Ipicked up along the way is no longer an exotic garment I put on like a collegegown whenever I choose—now it is my only voice, whether I want it or not. Iregret it; I should have kept both voices alive in my mouth.”Zadie Smith, like my aunt both lost apart of who they were when they decided tochange their voice to fit in with a different crowed.
Thankfully, Smith givesus hope within her article and gives us examples that you do not have to besingle-voiced in order to get to where you want to be, you can people a personwith many voices. Smith used people like Barack Obama as an example of someonewho used their ability to absorb and utilize so many voices. She stated “Obamacan do young Jewish male, black old lady from the South Side, white woman fromKansas, Kenyan elders, white Harvard nerds, black Columbia nerds, activistwomen, churchmen, security guards, bank tellers, and even a British man calledMr. Wilkerson, who on a starry night on safari says credibly British thingslike: “I believe that’s the Milky Way.
” This new president doesn’tjust speak for his people. He can speak them. It is a disorienting talent in apresident; we’re so unused to it.” Obamawas and still is able to speak in many voices, he is able to change his voiceaccording to his audience and is still able to capture their full attention andthat is why he is so successful. Despite Smith giving up her voice and losingapart of her identity, she doesn’t want us to do the same.
Why speak once voicewhen you can speak many