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In this essay, Tiffany Hendrickson analyzes the linguistic gap that exists between the white and black community. She argues that the society has placed different sounds to different colors and one is immediately judged as soon as they open their mouth. Referring it to as “talking in color”, Tiffany posits that the white and black communities have embedded quality of speeches that are different from each other. According to her, African Americans are supposed to sound in a particular way that is different from the white community. Black and white is not only used to symbolize the racial differences but also speeches. Tiffany argues that a white person is therefore supposed to ‘sound white’, while a black American is supposed to ‘sound black’. These norms are generally accepted in the society where a different color calls for a different sound.[“Write my essay for me?” Get help here.]
Growing up in a neighborhood that comprises of African Americans majority, Tiffany got to experience the widening gap between the black and white communities in terms of speech. As a white, Tiffany got to experience the disconnect between sound and color. Having been raised in this neighborhood, her speech took the qualities that are common with black community. She argues that the society consider her speech as well as those who sound like her to be inferior.
Tiffany notes that she is constantly judged according to her surroundings. Being in an area that is considered a black neighborhood, she posits that she has often experienced judgmental stares from other whites. She further argues that, she felt normal growing up in this community as well as attending “a mostly African American high school.” However, this was not the norm when she visited a white neighborhood noting that she felt insecure and would even be afraid to open her mouth to speak. Her lack of white voice made her a subject of ridicule while in the company of other whites. Tiffany notes of her worst experience of ‘a white girl with a black voice’ while attending a college house party. Despite the excitement of being in a party with people of her own color, she noted that every conversation she engaged in got shorter as well as more awkward. Her shocking moment came when a guy walked up to her and told her to talk white and “not like a nigger.”[Need an essay writing service? Find help here.]
Tiffany argues that she grew up not knowing what really constitutes a black or white sound. Raised by a completely deaf mother, she notes that her mother’s speech was neither formed by a white or black world, but that of a deaf world. The encounter in college party house left her embarrassed and made her hide her black accent or any other that she harbored. She posits that it was until her progression through college that she got to gain linguistic knowledge as well as the consciousness of the formal words that form part of her speech.
Tiffany notes of the substantial differences highlighted by linguists between standard American English (SAE) and African American English (AAE). SAE refers to the variant of the English language that is mainly spoken by the whites as well as many blacks within United States. On the other hand, AAE refers to that variant of the English language that is spoken by a majority of African Americans. Tiffany further notes that although these types of language variants are associated with a particular community, “no one speaks a pure form of either SAE or AAE.” Researchers argue that people have a mixture of both AAE and SAE speech patterns and whose usage differs from one place to another.[Click Essay Writer to order your essay]
Each society has its own code of speech where member are required to abide to such norm. Tiffany argues that her experiences forced her to hide her accent and would normally try to switch it depending with the company she was with. Referred to as code-switching, people often change the tones of their voices in order to fit within a group or environment they are in. This involves using two or more linguistic variations within the same interaction or conversation. Tiffany argues that it is normal for human beings to change their speech patterns in order to feel comfortable within a particular environment.
As a communication major, Tiffany acknowledges that formal words used within a speech differentiates being black or white. According to her, ‘talking white’ is described as a superior language as compared to ‘talking black’. Every white or black is therefore supposed to use only those formal words that are associated with that particular group’s speech pattern. Any deviation from this norm involves a violation of the cultural differences.
Through her essay, Tiffany informs us about the linguistic collision between the black and white communities. Being able to experience this collision first hand, tiffany notes of the negative impact that labeling a person based on their accent amounts to. Whereas she felt comfortable using an accent that was labeled black although she is white, the resentment from the other whites complicated her social life.
Tiffany therefore helps us comprehend the differences that come with different speech patterns and provides solutions on how to navigate the social interaction barrier. Through code switching one is able to interact with different audiences. Additionally, Tiffany helps us to embrace the unique differences embedded in our cultures arguing that although the speech patterns may vary, none should be considered superior.
Reading this essay has impacted in me, how a voice reveals more of someone’s social economic class and culture. The society is quick to judge people through their physical appearances as well as their accent. Speech patterns are therefore used to force people to conform to a particular societal norm that is considered ideal. Being in a white neighborhood requires one to adjust in order to fit and feel comfortable. However, switching the code in order to belong to a particular group may not be sufficient since the society has also attached speech to color.
This essay also provides insights to people struggling to belong into a particular setting due to variations in speech. The society has become more diverse with people from different races and economic backgrounds living together within the same neighborhood. This therefore calls for understanding on how our different voices can be helpful in conceiving the intellectual and cultural world. Of importance is the realization that not all people belong to a particular accent that is associated with their color. Gaining linguistic knowledge is therefore inevitable in a diverse society.
Finally, bridging the linguistic gap within the society will can only be achieved by eliminating the color aspect to a sound. In this regard, white people do not ‘talk white’ since they are white but due to the use of particular words in speech common with people in this neighborhood. In a similar manner, ‘talking black’ is shaped by the inherent formal words used in this culture.
Hendrickson, Tiffany. (21st Mar. 2013). “Talking in Color: Collision of Cultures.”