Spanglish ( A Poem) - Linguistic Evolution, Trauma, and Colonial Survivability
About the author: Dailihana Alfonseca is a short story writer, poet, and master's student in the department of English and Comparative Literature at UNC Chapel Hill. She studies how assimilation causes generational trauma in immigrant women and how manifestations of trauma such as depression and anxiety are often categorized and written as insanity in Latina/o/x literature.
She is currently building an Afro-diasporic archive for the Latina/o Studies Program and working on her next short story “Bachatas Murdered My Father.” The follow up to her 2022 Pushcart nominated short story, “Spanish Soap Operas Killed My Mother,” which speaks to how minstrels of culture often influence and impose cultural identities on our society and within our minds based on racial bias and media tropes.
About the piece: Spanglish ( A Poem) - Linguistic Evolution, Trauma, and Colonial Survivability
There is an in-between space where people who speak a language of taste must exist. Something called a double consciousness of the tongue. An analogy for the linguistic journey of those of us who have been twice colonized and assimilated into being after being. Into language after language after a language that moved with nature.
“Spanglish” is a poetic journey and foray into the oceanic depth of linguistic ability. In speaking to the difficulty of existing within a diaspora of the tongue, we learn how language can evolve to encompass, but also separate, the origin self from the linguistic and cultural self. For many immigrants, the language of forced migratory assimilation is the chosen form of survival that must be adopted in order to function as viable and accepted members of western socio-economic roles. In saying this, I position the argument that the evolution of language one must adopt in order to gain access to specific brackets of wealth and survivability (within dominant structures of power) are additional forms of assimilative practices that affect the mind.
It is through “Spanglish” that I attempt to explore what it means to come from a land where one's body is assimilated forcibly into a dichotomized culture and the evolution towards an assimilation of a forced migratory pattern of survival. Such as the practice of coming to America in search of a better life. What it must mean to the uncritically active mind to be made to understand that the language of one’s homeland is worthless as a social currency. More importantly, I also attempt to explore how the amalgamation of linguistic ability can open the door towards understanding events that are universally experienced in parallel ways throughout history and how those can affect different people, places, and temporal spaces as traumas.
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