What comes to mind when I think of the three words Nation, Race, and Language? The first thing that comes to my mind is that I believe these three words are extremely overlooked in today’s day and age.
Why is this? Well, I’ve come to my own personal conclusion that many people don’t understand the severity of being forced away from one’s nation, race and or language.
What do I mean by this? Well, the world as we recognise it is big on trends. Anyone can agree to disagree with this but by trends, I’m referring to conformity. English is the third most highly spoken language in the world and as of 2014 over 300,000,000 people approx. participate in speaking English. (“Most Popular Languages In The World By Number Of Speakers” 2016)
Last week two poets stood out to me. They both in their own unique ways embraced their Nation, Race and language by not conforming to English linguistics but more so mocking what it has done and continue to do in the world.
Grace Nichols was born and raised in British Guiana. Two of her works that caught my attention was a four-lined poem titled “Epilogue” and a quite revealing piece titled “Wherever I hang”. Epilogue memorialises Africans and their people’s language at the time of slavery, which relocated them to the West Indies.“Wherever I hang” uses all the dialect forms from her language as she gently criticises the place where she was born, “I leave me people”. (Ramazani and Stallworthy 2012)
“Wherever I hang” uses all the dialect forms from her language as she gently criticises the place where she was born, “I leave me people, me land, me home for reasons, I not too sure”. She purposely shows an interpersonal view with the way she talks creating a sense of understanding from what has happened. However, simultaneously recognising the discomfort that many have had to go through. Her acceptance into conformity has gone as far to say “Wherever I hang my knickers, that’s my home”.
On the other end of the Spectrum, Marlene Nourbese Philip was born on the Island of Tobago. She was a highly educated woman and a writer of novels, essays and plays. Her literary artwork “Discourse on the Logic of Language” refreshes one’s pre-determined opinion on the language being a foreign anguish. The way Philip’s brings this statement through is by using 5 different typographic styles; such as her own voice, one spoken through mothers, a scientific view, an authoritative view through edicts and a questionnaire.
To view any of the texts mentioned above, please feel free to check out their links!
“Wherever I hang”: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00wzy9y
“Discourse on the Logic of Language” Youtube Video. Start: 1:08
Ramazani, Jahan and Jon Stallworthy. 2012. Volume F: The Twentieth Century And After. New York: Norton.
“Most Popular Languages In The World By Number Of Speakers”. 2016. Infoplease.Com. http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0775272.html.