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Discussion Forum

Discussion Forum


After reading, you need to answer in 300 words or more: What does Cathy Park Hong mean by the key phrase “Bad English?” How does it relate to the practice of “speaking nearby” (p. 103)? Then, show how Maparyan and Keating’s conversation captures the practice of “speaking nearby.”


Respond 200 words or more

According to Cathy Park Hong, “Bad English” is part of her identity and is the language that she has spent her life interpreting and making hers as it is not the first language she grew up understanding, so she configured it to fit her tongue.  Hong writes, “I share a literary lineage with writers who make the unmastering of English their rallying cry- who queer it, twerk it, hack it, Calibanize it, other it by hijacking English and warping it into a fugitive tongue.” This quote reminded me of Amy Tan’s writing, Mother Tongue, where she also mentions having to help her mother be a translator because her English was “too broken” to be understood by others. I think it’s very special that Amy Tan acknowledged her proficiency in English as a writer but also identifies her mother’s English as one she will always understand and favor. Just like Hong, this language that is termed “bad English” by others, is the English that she most understands and refers to as her English. 

The practice of “speaking nearby” means to speak indirectly. I think “speaking nearby” means to also interpret a word or phrase on your own and the way of which you communicate it is still understood without directly naming or talking about the topic at hand. Page 87 specifies, “The link is nicely done, especially between “speaking nearby” and indirect language… A Speaking that reflects on itself and can come very close to a subject without, however, seizing or claiming it.”  The key is that the message is still understood even though it almost needs to be decoded, but as long as the two or more in conversation can understand what each are talking about without using identifying words. I think “bad English” relates to “speaking nearby” for example, if Amy Tan’s mother spoke her “broken English” to Nancy Chens “bad English” they would be speaking nearby because they are speaking indirectly but can still be understood in their own interpretations of the English language. 

The example of “speaking nearby” is present when Layli talked about a phrase in her language, “seeing the light”, that means to illuminate/ illumination. She then mentions a Japanese Zen tradition, “Satori” which means “instant illumination”. This example helped me internalize the action of really seeing, “the world differently afterwards” because once you understand the meaning with a different name or sound we are able to picture and feel the meaning differently.

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