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The Bilingual Difference

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The linguistic and cultural clashes that children encounter, and how they negotiate between their ethnic and American "mainstream" cultures, and how these clashes and problems influence their relationship with their parents and their ethnic identities as a whole and how they were dealt with differently as we look at two stories dealing with two girls who are both coming of age in different society from where they originally came from. Jairy's Jargon a story written by Carmen-Gloria Ballista, is a story that encounters the life of a young girl coming of age in Puerto Rico, except she's originally from New York. Milly Cepeda's story, Mari y Lissy, is a story about twin sisters who differ in personality and are often at odds with each other, but are both learning to live in a city that is very different from where they came from.

Both stories represent both sides of bilingualism as far as Puerto Ricans who live in the United States and then move to Puerto Rico, and Puerto Ricans who move to the United States from Puerto Rico. The linguistic clashes that these girls encountered were frustrating to their new knowledge of the culture and language. Although, these girls are Puerto Rican, it is important to state that they were not all born on the Island.

In Jary's Jargon, Jahaira (Jary) Molina is an eleven years old who moves to San Juan, Puerto Rico. Jairy who grew up in New York finds herself overwhelmed by the difference from New York to San, Juan. Jary thought that she would fit in because she spoke the language. The only problem was her Spanish was funny and filled with English words, in other words she spoke what, "Spanglish". The other children spoke and sang funny songs that did not make sense to her. In one occasion Jary was outside getting ready to play recess when she noticed all the other kids playing a game, as she tried to join in the children seem to speak Spanish so fast that Jary could not understand. One of the boys in her team became upset with Jary for not understanding and made fun of her. All the children laughed, and Jary at first did not even know what he was saying. She caught on fast that they were making fun of her and she began to run towards the bathroom with tears in her eyes.

Language is what makes a culture; it is the base of a culture. Without a certain type of dialect or language people would not join together and create a culture. It is very difficult to accept someone from a different culture, let alone, enter accept a different culture. Cultures can change with a dialect, as in the case of Jary. Her "Spanglish" is different from the Puerto Rican Spanish spoken amongst the children in her new school. To them she sounds funny, and vice versa. Children can be cruel when accepting new students, imagine a student that is far from the culture?

Jary is almost rescued by Miss Hernandez a teacher who spoke both English and Spanish, (and that is Puerto Rican Spanish). Jary befriends Miss Hernandez, as Miss Hernandez helps Jary learn the new language, and remember New York. Even though Miss Hernandez helps Jary with her new transition Jary still has to do a lot on her own. Jary is what many of the kids call a "Nuyorican", Jary's parents are also Nuyoricans meaning, they were born and raised in New York but are still Puerto Rican. Jary's parents do not feel the pressure of the culture clash as heavy as Jary.

As Jary begins to sing songs like the other children, she notices she uses the same words as them, and that she starting to speak like them. These clashes influence her relationship with her parents, in that they began to not understand her, for example; Jary would say "!que brutal!" , (which literally translates into "how brutal") when describing something she thought was interesting or nice. Her parents not understanding began to correct her, but she eventually explained to her. Jary's family had picked up many American customs, and many where different than those in Puerto Rico. One day as she invited two new friends from school over, her mother served macaroni and cheese for dinner. The girls laughed and made fun of Jary's "fake food". These girls were use to eating fresh foods, and a full course meal of traditional Puerto Rican food. The girls making fun of Jary did not help. Jary screamed at her parents in a frustrated manner, saying that they were not fully Puerto Ricans.

As far as ethnic identity, Jary slowly began adapting to the ways of the culture surrounding her. She even began to have a crush on Miguel, a boy who also befriended her. Jary's Spanish improved, and she even learned to cook certain foods that were different from "mac' and cheese". She learned plenty of phrases, songs that were culturally linked, and she learned to surf (something that was impossible in Brooklyn, unless your on the internet). The ethnic identity submergence was noticeable on a vacation Jary took back to New York. Although, she missed the big city she felt estranged when visiting old friends. Not only was Jary physically different (she was taller, darker) the way she talked was too. Jary had taken on a different culture, and slowly began to leave behind her original culture, and her old friends in New York noticed this.

In Milly Cepeda's story, Mari y Lissy, are twin sisters who differ in personality and are often at odds with each other, but are both learning to live in a city that is very different from where they came from. Mari is an extrovert and Lissy is an introvert, but both are a like when it first came to moving to New York. Lissy did not like the whole idea of leaving her small town of Utuado in Puerto Rico, her sister Mari was ready for a change. As both girls embarked on their adventures in the city that doesn't sleep, they find themselves in a sea of people rushing to get to one place or another. The culture clash is revealed on the first day of school when the two girls enter the doors of Public School 151, the girls could not believe the name of their school was a number, let alone that the school was going to be so big. When lunchtime came around the girls needed to use the bathroom, when they asked a student who mocked them as both girls tried desperately to explain in broken English, "Where was the bathroom?" Later



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