How to Tame a Wild Tongue Summary and Analysis: Gloria Anzaldua

Read our complete notes on the essay “How to Tame a Wild Tongue” by Gloria Anzaldua. Our notes cover How to Tame a Wild Tongue summary and analysis.

How to Tame a Wild Tongue Summary:

The essay “How to Tame a Wild Tongue” by Gloria Anzaldua attempts to highlight the undesirable social outlook and attitude of the community toward the way Chicano people speaks and the resulting harmful effects affecting the self-identity of the Chicano people dwelling on the borders. Anzaldua begins her essay with the hidden comparison of the way she speaks with her accent. She mentions her visit to a dentist who complaints that Anzaldua’s tongue is very strong and tenacious. She seems frustrated with the words of doctor and starts thinking of how to tame a wild tongue and comes to a conclusion that “wild tongue cannot be tamed, it can only be cut down”. The dentist, though, does not point out her accent or mean to, yet her reaction to dentist words shows that she has complexes regarding her accents which, no doubt, makes her unconsciously conscious of people’s thinking of her when she speaks.

Anzaldua moves ahead maintaining that her accent or the way she speaks is a significant element of her identity. She regards accent as one of the sources of identity for people. She elucidates that the accent “Chicano Spanish” that she speaks naturally develops as a language of the border because of the border on which she lives. This Chicano Spanish accent causes a lot of problems for her as she is not considered as the native speaker of both Spanish language and English Language. However, she considers herself socially isolated from either of the linguistic groups making her own language unique and appropriate for those people who, too, speak it. Anzaldua believes that the accent Chicano Spanish arose because of the people coming from diverse complex background desired to recognize themselves as a distinctive and unique group.

Anzaldua mentions the problems, difficulties, and stereotypes that she had to overcome in her childhood because of the Chicano Spanish accent. The language and the accent she spoke in her childhood was a foundation of uncertainty consequently causing her angry and frustrated mood over time. Moreover, this also led her to have problems with self-esteem.

The problems that Anzaldua encountered in her life because of her language and accent has negative impacts on her personality and personal identity. She realizes herself to be unhappy with herself, however, soon, she recognizes, understands and accepts the “illegitimacy” of her accent and language.

Many people believe that the language they speak and their cultural identities are one and the same thing. However, this is not the case. There is diversity in a language and discrimination on the basis of language can lead to personality disorders. Gloria Anzaldua is an excellent example of a person that is a self-validated disregard of the undesirable reactions of the people who cannot tolerate individual’s diversity.

Language is a source of identity and a language that individual speaks is crucial to identity. This a main idea that Anzaldua communicated in her essay “How to Tame a Wild Tongue”. Language is a source of keeping people united and helps people to identify one another, to resemble with one another. It is ethical responsibility of an individual to value other’s diversity especially the language through which they communicate. It shouldn’t be the superiority of a language that will make you speak it but you comfortably to decide which language you must speak. You don’t need nor should you allow anyone to direct you how to speak. Anzaldua, in her essay, encourages the minority not be disheartened and discouraged of the way they speak. Moreover, she encourages them to accept their diversity, to accept that they are different and must take the contest of being polyglot or bilingual in America.

Gloria Anzaldua tries to argue with the audience to admit the reality that every person has his or her accent while some people have a totally different accent and speaks differently from the entire community. So, the Americans must have to change their mindset to diversity. We should be tolerant enough to accept each other’s alterations.

How to Tame a Wild Tongue Analysis:

Gloria Anzaldua, an important character in Chicano literature, is an American poet, novelist, essayist, and critic. Anzaldua, in her literary work, shows her hard experiences as a woman- a mestiza, who lives on a border and faces many problems due to mix cultures and languages.

Borderland or La Frontera’ is a major work by Gloria Anzaldua that was published in 1987. Her works are mainly based upon people who live on the border between Mexico and USA and describes the socioeconomic, political, and mystical impact of European invasion on the borderland. The essay “How to Tame a Wild Tongue?” is taken from this book, and has played a major role in elevating and highlighting the issue affecting the society particularly people living on borderlands. The Chicano movement, in the 1960s, has greatly influenced Gloria. Being a part of that movement, Gloria devoted most of his work to the movement and events occur during that time. The issues that she highlighted in her essays and other literary works include self-approval, racism, sexism, and construction of identity.

The essay “How to Tame a Wild Tongue” is mostly based on the problems that Chicano people come across in communication. Moreover, she addresses the forceful and violating the process of changing their psychological, social, and cultural arrays. The Chicano people have to confront a lot of undesirable attitudes from other communities due to the Chicano Spanish language and accent they speak. Gloria describes this situation as “Linguistic Terrorism”. She claims that social involvement leads to the formation of the particular identity of an individual.

The Chicano American or the Mexican American were isolated from the common American citizens for a long span of time. They were not given their due rights and were deprived of basic facilities of life. They have zero excess to the quality educations. The vocational centers in which they receive low standard education developed no or low self-validation as they were ridiculed for their origin and language they spoke. The children were scorned for speaking their native language in the class. This lead to personality disorders and disinterest of students in studies increased leading to huge dropouts. Stigmatization resulted due to cultural domination.

In society, every human has diverse responsibilities. Society determines these roles. Moreover, identity formation is strongly linked and affiliated to the social contribution. Ethnic, political and economic backgrounds are the various variables that form these social affiliations. Similarly, these factors also contributing factors of cultures; while culture is directly linked to language; language differences cause cultural uncertainty.