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Alvarez shows language is a tremendous difference in everyone

Alvarez Shows Language is A Tremendous Difference In Everyone's Lives In His


Rudy and Yolanda communicated in completely different languages. By

language, I mean the written, and spoken kind. More so I mean the traditions,

and values that go hand in hand with learning a language. When they learned

their own languages, they inherited their own set of ideals, that were changed

by what, where, and how they were taught.

Yolanda's language was Spanish. She learned to speak Spanish in the

Dominican Republic. Her lifestyle was one of a strict Catholic girl. Yo had a

very traditional father. He allowed nothing but what was the social norm. His

social norms became hers. When she moved to the U.S., she was completely naive

when it came to the American culture. Yolanda was raised in the way that the use

of drugs and alcohol were totally unheard of. Pre-marital sex was something that

was taboo, and strictly reinforced. She had grown up with very traditional

values that were adopted from her mother and her father. She was never exposed

to any outside stimuli. Whether or not it was voluntary, she was forced to

conform to the rigid Hispanic values. This conformity kept her at bay. She

couldn't experience the things necessary to become a whole person.

Rudolf B. Elmhurst was a young man from a liberal family in the United

States. His parents were easy-going people, with thoughts of letting Rudy

develop on his own. He learned English much the same way Yolanda learned Spanish.

He was taught by his parents. He also absorbed the culture around him and he

learned the American way of doing things. Rudy had quite a bit of freedom. He

could have come and gone as he pleased. He had no restrictions, and was allowed

to grow freely. With that opportunity Rudolf Brodermann Elmenhurst was able to

laugh along with everyone else at the mention of his difficult to pronounce name.

He had been allowed to grow unrestricted, but not unchecked. While his parent

were liberal, they still gave him the attention necessary, and the room to

evolve. This independence helped him to be who he was, invincible to insult,

injury, and always in control.

When Yolanda and Rudy first met they were in English class. He had

showed up late and totally unprepared for class, the exact opposite of her. She

marveled at how he could walk in late, take what she thought of as an

embarrassing scene, and laugh about it. She always went to class early, had all

of her books and was well prepared for class. She also got extremely embarrassed

when he laughed about the pencil, which he considered no big deal, but a chance

to show off. Rudy and Yolanda had been raised differently, and this affected how

they interacted socially. This is one of the most pronounced differences between

them that is brought about by language, and the ideals that accompany their

different backgrounds.

Rudy and Yo were working on their poems for class. Yolanda used the

style she had been taught. She followed the instructions to the letter. Rudy had

wrote about what he wanted, and tried to be the class clown. This was another

difference in their language. She had been taught to do as told, and do

everything correctly. Rudy was doing what he wanted, as he was taught to. He

used the assignment as a chance to get attention, to be noticed. Yo shied away

from anything of the sort. She was quiet, and shy, he was loud, and liked

attention. This was another side effect of language. In learning the strict

Hispanic values, Yolanda had learned that children were supposed to be quiet,

proper, etc. Rudy just did what came natural. He wasn't taught to fear anything,

so he never had that problem. The different languages taught different

mentalities, and were based on the values of the teachers.

Somehow they decided to work together on their homework. She helped

write his poem using the phrases and double meanings that he thought would be

appropriate. It was pornographic by her standards, but she didn't know what any

of it meant. She wrote her poem using the format that she was taught to. When it

came time for the two to read their poems Yolanda read hers first. No one knew

what she was talking about because they had a different frame of mind. Then Rudy

read his poem the whole class erupted with laughter. The rest of the class had

understood all of the inside jokes, and puns. He later explained to her all of

the little details that she couldn't understand. Yolanda couldn't comprehend

what was going on because of her language, and the way she was raised. She was

never allowed to experience anything of the sort, so it all seemed alien to her,

just as her poem had to him, and the rest of the class.

After a short time dating, Rudy began to try and introduce sex into

their relationship. He had up to that point corrupted her to drinking, smoking,

and doing a variety of drugs. She still hung onto the fear instilled in her as a

child. Rudy had never had to have that fear, he was totally uninhibited. She

wanted to experience sex, but she told herself no. She still had the old fears

in her head. The threats of her father, the priests, and the other fears she had

invented, stemming from the roots of her language, and the Hispanic upbringing.

The language Rudy used, and the ways he described sex had also driven her away.

When he refereed to sex as "getting laid" it completely turned her off. She

thought it was supposed to be very romantic, and everything would be set just


Eventually she overcame the barriers, and made love to men. Rudy was not

one of them his American overconfidence, and frustration turned her off. The way

they communicated about sex, and love was a major difference in languages.

Yolanda had acquired the idea that sex was an act of love, and should be treated

as such, and introduced as such. Rudy was interested in the short term

gratification of "getting laid."

Rudy and Yolanda grew up learning different languages, and at the same

time learning the cultural norms of the area in which they originated. They

brought their values with them when they went to college. Rudy had the same

style of free upbringing that most Americans at that time had.. Yolanda was

raised by a stern father, who left no room for argument. The barrier between

Yolanda's world, viewed through her Hispanic background, and the new world she

moved into was very hard for her to overcome.

Eventually she changed, and adapted more to the American culture, as she

began to learn the English language first hand. The languages that these two

young adults had learned molded who they were. They each learned a different

language, so they had different, conflicting ideals.

Gradually one language gets assimilated by another. Yolanda began to

lose her language, and her Hispanic values. The more popular American style took

over. She was captured by the new culture, and almost completely lost her old

one. Rudy soon faded from her life. People are affected by how, where, and when

they are raised.

Alvarez shows that language is a tremendous difference in everyone's'

lives. Everything that is the norm for one person is completely alien to someone

else, and visa versa. The language, spoken, written, and cultural play a huge

part in who we are. Rudy and Yo, are just two small examples of language in an

ever changing world.

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