On “Single Stories” and the “Realities” of Language

For your second Blog post of the semester, I want to build on our work from last class, and also look forward a bit in anticipation of our work for class on 10/17.  So, with that in mind, I would like you to put together two sections of response here, which should be at least one paragraph each.  The first section should engage with the topic of language and reality, and the second section should consider the dangers of “single stories” (to borrow deliberately from Chimamanda Adichie’s well-known TED talk). More specifically, here is what I’d like you to do in these two sections:

Part One:  In this section, I’d like you to explore one of the age-old questions of linguistics and philosophy:  How does our language shape our reality?   In order to develop your answer to this question, you should try and provide a specific example of language and “reality”.  The idea here is to address the ways in which the language we use shapes the way we think and influences the ways we understand things like race, gender, sex, politics, commercial products, and a host of other topics.  To do so, you should discuss a particular example that illustrates specific ways in which language serves to limit and/or shape our understanding of the world.  For example, you might: address “the use of metaphor” in a specific cultural discourse, consider the “invention” of a new term for a particular phenomenon, assess the impact of the PC “word police” on modern language, think about the controversial meaning of a word in a particular usage or context, comment upon the distortion of “reality” in the language of politicians, compare the challenges of “code-switching” for a second language speaker, and so on.

Part Two:  In this section, I’d like you to respond to and extend Adichie’s ideas about “single stories” by addressing a significant narrative “text” that is either written BY someone from another culture, or written ABOUT some person or occurrence from another place.  You might, therefore, select a literary story or some other form of media narrative that deals with important historical or political ideas (a feature news story or even photograph would qualify here).  Because the goal is to use and build on Adichie’s ideas as a way “in” to some other “single story”, you might want to quote her TedTalk and use her specific words and ideas in your discussion.  As Adichie states, “The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.”  So, in looking at your chosen story, you might ask/answer questions of the following type (in some way):  What other stories are there in society but do not get told?  What are some of the most important gaps or omissions in your chosen story, and how can you tell?  Perhaps more importantly, what are the ramifications of these gaps for what the reader or global citizen perceives to be the “reality” of the situation, the “truth” of the society or political idea in question?

36 thoughts on “On “Single Stories” and the “Realities” of Language

  1. In today’s society, language has manifested our reality in America. Meaning he way we talk, is the way we are. If an individual speaks with a lot of slang and is very grammatically incorrect on-purpose; the individual is trying to put on a cool and street image. For example, “Whad up fam, I’ll catch you in a min cuzzo.” which translates to “What are you doing man? I will see you in a little bit.” When an individual speaks very proper and uses long complicated words, they put on an intelligent image. For example “Hi Brad, did you happen to watch the Lacrosse game last night? It was quite astonishing.” Also, having curse words like, fuck, shit, and bitch are so looked down upon in the english culture, but anywhere else it is just an english word. In todays society, too many adults and children are using inappropriate words too often. When using too much curse words you give off a disrespectful image. Talking in you’re own way portrays who you are with out even noticing.
    Stereotypes are not true, but that does not mean they are false. Stereotpyes I get because of my race and image are: “You’re Irish, you must drink a lot.” or “You have tattoos you must be reckless.” which both of these assumptions are false. But I also get these stereotypes, “You’re white so you must like country music.” Which is true (not the biggest fan but it’s okay) does not mean people of other skin color does not like country music too. I do ask myself, who makes these stereotypes?

    • Language effects our personalities as a whole. Everyone speaks in a way that seems obnoxious and loud to some, but polite and nice to others. This is referred to as slang and proper English. Often, if some said “Yo, you thirsty bruh?” they are often seen as someone with little regards to proper grammar. A person with little education or no regards to it. Meanwhile, if someone said “Would you like a spot of tea?”, they are seen as someone with a high education and views it as being important. It’s not always the case, they could have simply learned that type of language from T.V shows, or influenced by friends and family throughout their lives.

      The Ted Talk was great. When Adichie started to elaborate on “Single Stories”, I was so surprised about how right she was. Basically, she explained how we view other contries and places based on a single story someone else has said. For example, growing up, a teacher told me that Africa was only filled with starving children and tents. I believed it for a year or two, until I found some mansions and cars driving left and right. So are these stereotypes true? Not all the time, but some can be true, it just won’t have enough info to make sense.

  2. In today’s world, reality may be misconstrued by our language and how we speak. When learning a new topic as a child, you are often more vulnerable and likely to learn about the topic in the way you are taught. The language we use greatly shapes how we understand specific topics that we are taught. For example, when learning and discovering the topic of homosexuality, a person who views this as a “disgrace” may describe to me “gay people are just like girls”. This negative description of homosexuals may influence me to view all gay people as very feminine and flamboyant. If a young child were hearing this, they will automatically have an altered thought due tot heir vulnerable state and development stage.
    The discussion of how a “single story” contributes to stereotypes is a very valuable argument. In many ways, this is a true form of trying to open people’s eyes to the reality of stereotypes. Many people feed into these “single stories” they are told. With me being a Jewish girl, I get many stereotypes about saving my money; “Do you want my spare change, I know Jews love money”. These stereotypes were originally formed by the single stories that were told from generation to generation while molding their children and how they think.

  3. In the world today, reality to many may be misinterpreted by our language and the way we often speak. We learned that the language we use shapes how we understand specific topics and the ways we are taught, as well as influences our thoughts and feelings. As a kid if you are taught that something is wrong, you will grow up with that mindset. For example, if someone is against something, such as gay marriage, the child could grow up with the thought that those who were married to the same sex should be ashamed of who they are. Being a person with that mindset, they can see a gay couple and say “that is a disgrace” because that was the way they heard the situation be discussed.

    In many cases people are given a stereotype. Adichie states “The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.” I also believe stereotypes are not always true. There is more than one side to every story because people have their own ways of interpreting things, but there is also the “one story” everyone seems to listen to. Stereotypes I often hear about for example, are Italian people such as myself hear “You must be Italian, you talk with your hands,” or if you’re Irish you drink a lot. Another stereotype I’ve heard is that if you are republican you must be rich. There are many more that are often said which can also be taken offensively. Sometimes I wonder who or why people use stereotypes, what causes people to make such assumptions about others.

    • Our language today shapes who we are. After moving towns quite a few times I’ve noticed a lot of different types of ways people in such a short distance communicate. For example I lived in Whippany, New Jersey where everyone would say “Taylor Ham” when ordering from the bagel shop in town. After moving only an hour away to Toms River, New Jersey everyone called it “Pork Roll” yet we were talking about the exact same sandwich. It amazes me because different places in the same state use different words for things and yet we all understand exactly what the other person is saying.
      Stereotypes always have been thrown around and I do not believe in them. I’ve always gotten, “Your Italian you must have a huge family” which is not true. Many believe in these stereotypes especially in our generation today. Growing up as an athlete I constantly heard, “Don’t throw like a girl” which was one that always bothered me. Girls can play sports just as well as boys can. Stereotypes are always thrown around and assumptions are always made.

  4. Where a person grows up and the language they learn will shape there reality. A person is surrounded by others all the time and the language used around them causes them to think about a certain situation differently. For example here in America were use certain terms to approach a person like brother or friend, but in other countries they would approach a person as older male or female. Every country is different and taught different beliefs and the meaning of reality. A rich white man from America is going to have a different meaning of reality from an Australian woman because they were brought up in different realities and believe in different meanings.

    The way Adichie explains single stories is a really good way to show the different languages and realities. she explains. that when she was young and she would write stories she always imagined a white girl with blonde hair eating apples, she never realized that there could be stories out there with African American woman eating mangos. This example helped to prove that people are under the impression there reality is the only one, but it isn’t. She talks about her American roommate and the stereotypes she believed about Adichie, that she didn’t know how to use a stove or understand how her English was so good. stereotypes set up a belief about a certain type of person and many believe these stereotypes until proven wrong.

  5. Chimamanda Adichie’s TED talk was very deep and meaningful, she elaborates her struggle and the culture views on Africa. She states that the view on Africa from an American stand point is much different then the life she grows up in. Chimamanda grew up reading British stories and when she wrote her own she had to make it relatable for the people where she is from. She got a lot of negativity and conflict in her life because she is told that she needed to have a rough child hood to ne successful writer. At times her parents struggled putting food on the table, but it isn’t what the media makes it to be.
    The media and society we live in today portray a lot of things negative with different people and animals, this may not be a human example, but the world portrays pit bulls as being such a vicious attacking dog and in cases that is far from what they are. Pit bulls can be the sweetest and nicest dogs if you can give them the affection they need. Some counties have pit bulls even illegal to own. What does this say about people and fears? Why does society have to label everything and not just accept people or animals.

  6. They way she was talking about how she only wrote about the way that she wrote only about white people in the books in her books that she wrote in when she as a child.

    She was talking about how she did not identify with being African and she did not feel like that in till she went to the USA an after that she finally identified with her origin.

    They she talked about how power is what allowed people to talk about what happens to a people and how they are able to talk about them second and not as the primary people but as a secondary people and don’t give them the same level of respect as others.

    then she started talking about how her family and friends died because of there area and when firefighters did not have water or food or they would randomly disappear for know reason in Africa.

    To sum her talk up it just talked about how people would be able to learn about what they are able to see.

  7. Adichie was talking about how stories like people have two sides of them. She talked about a kid from her childhood who she only thought of as poor and that was it shocking to see that that his family was also hardworking she never thought that they would be like that she only saw one side. She talked about how when she came to America here roommate did not think she knew how to speak English or use a stove because she was from Africa, because her friend had the one side perspective that Africans are poor and don’t speak English. She points out that the three is two sides too everything and that “stereotypes are true but incomplete.” She states that if she were born in America she would view Africa the same as Americans do based on the single sided story from media fed to the public about Africa and the AIDS epidemic and the poorness there.
    An Example on a single sided Story would be like too say all cops are racist and will go target black people because that is what some people’s perception is after cops shoot a African American. This completely one-sided cause it may have not because of race or it might of just been a couple of bad cops that does not mean that every cop is going to end up shooting a innocent African American and that they are racist. Most cops are probably really good, and they do their duty to kept people safe and themselves safe. The reality of the situation is that cops risk their live every day and to accuse all of them of racism is pretty messed up. It is important because cops should be respected as people not seen as racist scum for no reason other than being a cop.

  8. Language shapes reality in more ways than I can think of. We practically assigned a label to almost everything that surrounds us without actually knowing what specific objects actually are. For example, is an apple actually an apple or is it something we just gave the name “apple” to? There’s a different word for apple in almost every other language so, which one is most accurate? When comparing our lives to that of an animals’, I feel like language represents a great sense of entitlement as humans. We literally have a word for every emotion. I think having the ability to express how we feel so freely, allows for more expression of thoughts and emotions overall. If we all speak the same language, we can understand everyone’s reality a little bit better through verbal or written communication.
    A prime example of one “single story” told in my life comes from simply looking at a calendar. When I say “I lived in Alaska for thirteen months..” peoples’ jaws drop. They start talking about how beautiful it is all around or how “it’s always frozen.” Now, granted, the calendar making companies probably won’t put photos of homeless, drunk natives or nuclear waste sites in their works but, without ever having lived there or simply googling a few things, I could see why a lot of people give credit to the “single story” of the state just being beautiful. Don’t get me wrong, most of the state is nice, to visit. Living there is something completely different. Fairbanks is considered a dangerous city and it really isn’t the warmest place to be during their winter months(-51F). Although, contrary to popular belief, they did have decently hot summer (92F) during my experience. Living there has really opened my eyes to the fact that even the most beautiful “single stories” have their second side hidden somewhere.

  9. Reality is what one sets it out to be. Just like stereotypes. After hearing Adichie’s thoughts on the matter, I started to think about the different stereotypes the world gives. Such as “Italians are known to make good gravy”, or “because you live in Philly, you must be part of a lower class and a delinquent”. Me, being from Philly and being Italian have heard these a lot. Are they true? Not necessarily but it is the way one views it. Same goes for single story. My single story could be I am a South Philly Italian and my language is “slang” with a Philly accent. Depending on where you are from, your culture, your views and beliefs, even your background, often portrays the way one looks at things. Me and Adichie, being very different, have nothing in common, except that we each speak the same language, English. However, we are not from the same area, we are not the same nationality, yet we do share having our own reality.

  10. Language in a way is our “reality”. Yes, our language is English, but more so “slang”. Think about that for a moment. Teenagers only us complete sentences when handing in a paper, talking to a professor, and attending a job interview. Any other time is it simple everyday slang such as “wya”, “wyd”, “imma”, ‘yeooo”, and many more. The use of slang sums up the reality of our generation. A generation lacking intelligence, being lazy, or simply a generation trying something new, maybe a shortcut?

    Reality is what one sets it out to be. Just like stereotypes. After hearing Adichie’s thoughts on the matter, I started to think about the different stereotypes the world gives. Such as “Italians are known to make good gravy”, or “because you live in Philly, you must be part of a lower class income and or a delinquent”. Me, being from Philly and being Italian have heard these a lot. Are they true? Not necessarily but it is the way one views it. Same goes for single story. My single story could be I am a South Philly Italian and my language is “slang” with a Philly accent. Depending on where you are from, your culture, your views and beliefs, even your background, often portrays the way one looks at things. Me and Adichie, being very different, have nothing in common, except that we each speak the same language, English. However, we are not from the same area, we are not the same nationality, yet we do share having our own reality.

  11. Chimamanda Adichie’s TED talk is relatively about how she grew up as a child and the hardships she faced. Adichie lived in Africa where food was hard to place on the table, and daily routines we have today are impossible. She started writing stories about her hardships because not everyone knows what it’s like. She always pictured your average white school girl doing her work and eating her perfect red apples. She however never got the chance to live like this as s child. American society grows as a whole to become better, but are we really? Do we really care about everyone as a whole, or is it just ourselves and our loved ones? Today cultures and religions aren’t valued as much as they should be. People judge a book by it’s cover and believe in social status more than the importance of the struggles people face such as Chimamanda Adichie’s.
    One thing very important to the age today is our language. Our language in america is something that differs from many other countries. We use various slang terms and short cuts. For example, in my highschool the most common thing we said was “You got me chopped.” This meant you have to be crazy if you thought a student was going to do that. If you said those common words you were considered to be the cool kids. Language is a way of placing people in different groups and giving people social standards. High schools are your typical place filled with stereotypes that do not make sense. If you go to high school football games, or the parties after you’re popular; but if you don’t you’re weird. Stereotypes are not always true. Only because someone attends a football game, doesn’t make you cool. Football games are a place to have fun with your friends and be around people. Highschool is one prime example of untrue stereotype that are there just for the “fun” of it.

  12. Language shapes our reality in many ways, but it affects people differently depending on where they are from. For example phrases. In the South in America there is a phrase for when it’s raining and the sun stays out. This phrase is “The Devil beating his wife.” But in Tennessee the phrase is “The Devil is kissing his wife.” And in France they say “The Devil is beating his wife and marrying his daughter.” In my opinion these are all different due to people’s experiences with life, and learning from others. You don’t know everything, and when you join a society you will learn information information to fit into that society and what they think about weather, or names of food.
    Adichie talks a lot about the single story, but One thing she says during her Ted Talk really pops out at me. She talks about stories being written by the victor, which just so happens to be a quote by Winston Churchill. And I believe and that quote especially in the context of the single-story. you learn the single story from the powerful man not the week man. It’s on the powerful man that you hear the story and therefore believe it. Adichie also talks about media coverage, and I think she has a point. media coverage covers a lot of storage and because they are more right than wrong, will believe most of what they say. so they say Africa is poor, people listening that believe it will think Africa is poor. That’s not the fault of media coverage, but of the listener. Because they should should open their mind to all the different possibilities and not just take one story and continue on.

  13. Language is such an important aspect in our lives. It shapes how we communicate with other people and opens up new doors of learning and expanding our knowledge of language itself. Before cell phones were an idea, language was formal and properly used in conversation between people. Now that iPhones have taken over the focus of most people in this world, our proper use of language has been lost. We were taught at a young age how to properly formulate sentences to sound intelligent and how to sound grammatically correct when writing or speaking. That has all been lost due to social media and texting because the younger generations are so involved with technology. For example, “hayy, wut r u doin? We shud hang soon, lmk wen u can,” which should be written as “ hey, what’re you doing? We should hang out soon, let me know when you can.” Our language is lost now through shorthand writing and abbreviated texting.
    During the Ted talk with Adichie, she explained many different one sided stories that she had experienced. She had told stories of her roommate not understanding that even though Adichie was from Africa, she could speak English and work a stove. People believe when they see or hear a one sided story, that automatically becomes that vision of the whole topic. For example, most people have one vision of Africa as a poverty filled country and the only thing there is dry desert and disease. But that’s not entirely true and Adichie has told us through her talk that there’s always another side of the story. An example of a one sided story that I’ve experienced is the stereotype of blondes. When I was growing up, I had always been told of the stereotype that blondes were not smart and they “have more fun” than others. This to me was offensive because I was being judged off my hair color and held to a status I didn’t believe. The color of your hair shouldn’t define your intelligence, nor should it define anything at all let alone label someone as “dumb” or “stupid.” It’s disgusting to me how someone could base their opinion and judgments solely on someones hair color instead of their actual personality.

  14. In the world we live in today, many may be misinterpreted by our language and how we may come off by speaking. In the article, we learned that the language we use shapes our understanding on specific topics and how we are taught influences our thoughts and feelings. Growing up if you were told to do something, you will learn to do that, good or bad. As a child, if you were told that stealing from a store is okay, you will grow up and build a mindset that it is okay to steal because that is what you were told as a child.
    The society and social media we live with everyday portrays a negative look on both humans and animals. For example, people look at the dog breed Pit Bulls to be vicious and harmful dogs. This is the complete opposite of a Pit Bull as long as the dog is given enough attention and love from their owner. There are some dog owners out there in this world that train their Pit Bull to be a vicious, harmful dog. Why does our society feel it is okay to judge this dog breed because of a certain owners actions?

  15. Language shapes our reality because it allows us to communicate with each other in more than one way. We have given every single thing around us, everything we do, and everything we feel a name. In every language they have different names for all of these things which could change the way that they perceive it. The way we are taught a certain a topic is the way we will act towards it. A big example of this is the LGBTQA community. If you are taught that they are bad sinful people, that is how you are going to perceive and treat them. On the other hand, if you are taught that you should embrace everyone should be able to be happy then most likely you will believe and respect them. It all depends where you come from and what you are taught.
    Stereotypes are something that have taken over our world. This is prominent in the way that African Americans are treated in America along with the police in this country. Not all African American people are criminals or even come to close that. Not all people in the police department are out to get people or have these prejudice ideas. There are also a lot of stereotypes surrounding specific cultures in America.

  16. Language has a very strong connection between the way we live and the way we think. Language shapes our reality by helping us view the world around us. For example, an apple is only an apple because that is what we have learned and that is our language. In today’s world reality is very vague. Language connects to reality by understanding the way we view the world. We can use metaphors as an example. At a young age the words and sayings we here make us think differently. But as we get older, slang comes into play. It makes reality look almost “immature” you can say. Slang terms such as “brick out” or “been a min” are said frequently by the youth.

    All stereotypes have some sort of origin. In this case, short stories. An older short story that basically is full of stereotypes is “Im Glad I’m A Boy, I’m Glad I’m A Girl.” Throughout the book it talks about jobs that are stereotyped to be dominantly one gender. Some examples from the writing are men are policemen, women are nurses and men are doctors. Stereotypes are not 100% true and they must come from somewhere. But, we can see from today’s society that these specifically are not true. I believe we must teach children at a young age that stereotypes are not always true and should not believe in them.

  17. I believe that your language shapes reality because people named everything! People were the ones who named it all, no matter your language or nationality it all is the same. People formed our languages and words, as time went on and on more things came to be and more things were named! People don’t understand that words mean same thing but different languages have different words for it.

  18. Language revolves around our reality. The way we talk has evolved over time in both directions. What I mean by both directions we have proper English and we have hard slang. Proper English is mainly used on TV, Lectures or for political exposure. On the other hand, slang is used in every day language. Almost everyone talks with a little bit of slang in their vocabulary. The extreme version of slang is when you can barely understand what the person is saying. For example, someone might say “We bout ta be thrown hands in this jawn.’’ When in reality they mean, “we are going to fight right here now.” Other than just hard to understand slang, there is slang that points out where someone is from. In the south they say Y ‘All and Fixin.
    Stereotype’s are not always true. The media likes to point out the major stereotypes and tries to make things look worse than they actually are. For example, the main thing now is that police are bad, and they try and target Blacks. Not all police officer’s profile like this. Most are not like this, but there is always a hand full that ruin the name for all of them. In the media, there are stories of while officers shooting or killing a black individual. This also gives the officers a bad name, but this one is the media’s fault. They focus on what gets the most attention and not what the true story is. They are mostly missing the background information such as if the individual had a gun or did something before they were recorded.

  19. In this day and age, language is one of the most significant factors in sculpting who we are as people and is what defines certain communities. On a worldwide scale, different languages have complexities within them and separate us from each other. While some examples include multiple words for one thing, such as colors and rocks receiving multiple names in different cultures, one of the most notable instances of language’s impact is through formalities. In the United States, we would simply refer to an grandparent simply as a “grandmother” or “grandfather”. However, in other countries, like China, there are specific titles given based on which grandmother or grandfather you’re referring to, including which part of the family they’re from and if they’re blood related or not. These formalities allow to not only tell how languages impact society, but show how other places run things and how they view certain topics or values. When looking at one particular language, English is probably the most diverse when determining its impact on people. Not only do people from all around the world speak it and have their own ways of speaking the language, the intended way of speaking English has created a lot of slang with mainly has to do with cultural aspects. The biggest example of this can be seen through texting, where we have shortcuts and phrases to use to replace most of the words in our language, and because we do it so much every day, it defines who we are as people. Similarly, there are divides in the many societies we have within our language. As silly as it will sound, one of the prime examples of differences in language can be seen racially. If a Caucasian person were to say “You want beef?” it might be implied that this person is simply trying to offer someone a certain variety of meat to another. On the other hand, were a colored person to say the same thing, its implications lead to the fact that the other person in question might want trouble or want to fight. Due to the way certain people were raised and what backgrounds they have, our native language can in turn have many implications and meanings which define not only us, but our country entirely.
    Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TED Talk expands upon this idea, mentioning that things like race and language create stereotypes that give people the wrong impressions about other people and cultures. Adichie shares her opinions on “single stories”, which in short are one-time stories people will hear and automatically assume that whatever is being said is right, similar to the confirmation bias. She goes on and says that her roommate was shocked to hear of Adichie’s descent, thinking she did not know how to function a stove, or that she listened to specific music simply because she was from Nigeria. In another instance, she mentions that she has an encounter with someone who says that “it was such a shame that Nigerian men were physical abusers”, which bounces off her statement that most people tend to write about certain cultures in ways that make us believe they all act one particular way. She defends the fact that people should not be judged simply because of someone said something that they had heard and believed it to be true. One of the biggest examples of this in our society deals heavily with colored people. In recent times, people, more specifically police officers, will pin the blame and bring hate upon colored people simply because of how they look and because of what “their kind” has been prone to do. This stereotyping is not only wrong, but does not speak for every single person, and does not define anyone. People need to learn how to understand others, even if they speak a different language or were raised another way. We cannot make assumptions solely on things we’ve heard or seen.

  20. Language can shape our reality in many ways. For one, in English we see one thing as multiple ways, but in another language they see it as one thing and one thing only. Another way to see how language influences our reality is the style on the language. As said in the video on Monday, there are future languages and futureless languages. What a futureless language is people who speak that language, they treat the future just as important as the present. People who spoke these types of languages ended up living better lives than those that do not. What I am getting at is people who speak English need to treat the future as the same as the present and maybe those lives will become better, and hard time will not be as hard as they are.
    In Adichie’s speech she tells her story of what she experienced as a child In Nigeria and some of her college life. She mentioned how she started writing at an early age, and the stories she told were roughly based off the ones she read as a kid. Being American and British books. So he stories had white people, snow, and apple eating; while her life experienced predominantly black Africans, droughts, and mango eating. As she got to her college years she found out that the stories of Africa that were told to Americans was nothing like her experience. At the end of her story she says, “Show a person one thing, as only one thing over and over again, and that is what they become. A single story robs people of their dignity.” Look at a picture of the Bahamas. You maybe think that it’s a nice place to go and visit, but all in reality its not. They never show you the poor parts of the Bahamas. Besides the picture of all the resorts people may think that they are just a bunch of beaches. That not at all it. I visited a part that had a very high poverty level. These people had to walk every where they went. That fact that they only had one high way on that island didn’t help them either. Everywhere you looked you saw someone that needed help.

  21. Our language shapes our reality based on how we can express ourselves by using language. Most languages do not manifest the same cultural values. Every language is rounded to once cultural beliefs. From slang to developing new words. These words help us describe a person, situation, place or an object. For example, in the English language, we have names for more colors than some other languages. However, we only refer to our siblings as “brothers” and “sisters” and other languages can have a different word to describe each sibling differently. Our reality here, would be that we only describe our brothers and sisters as “brothers and sister.” We do not have words to describe our siblings the same way that the Chinese language does. Other languages do not have words to identify your gender other than male and female. All these controversies, make us understand race, gender, sex, and commercial products differently, depending on the language that we speak.
    For the first ten years of my life, I only read, talked, and listened in Spanish. When I moved to the United States, I had to learn English. Learning English was not much of a change for me. In just a matter of months, I could understand the language. I agree that there are many Spanish words that can not be translated into English. When I try to translate them in a literal sense, they do not make sense in the English language.
    Donal Trump brings many single stories to the table. For example, in one of his speeches, he used the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism.” In other cases, he called all Mexicans criminals. Trump gives the idea of this stories being the reality. Not just because someone is Islamic makes them terrorists. Just because Trump assumes that Mexicans are criminal, makes them criminals. They all have stories and they are not told. Trump only addresses the negative stories and not the stories that shape other countries. Our president does not tell us how hard working and carrying these people can be. He instead tells us how they still Americans jobs and how they want to kill inocent people. The stories of how hard these people work solely because they are in the United States looking for a better life are not told. The incomplete stories told by Trump, become the only reality for many people living in this country.
    Due to my inability to speak English when I moved to the united states, I did not take any English and HIstory courses until I was in high school. To my understanding, I could perfectly understand everything that was sed to me. I learned how to read and write on my own because, before high school, only mathematics was taught to me. I am not a good reader and struggle to spell and pronounce many words. When I had a chance to learn about American culture, the doors were closed to me. I think that due to this discretion, I only have a single story of what is no be American. “The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete, “ (Adichie). I had a single story of Americans and created stereotypes. I feel that I built a bigger story, of what is to be an American, this month that I have been in college than in the past eight years of my life.

  22. Language influences society more than people actually realize. Living in America, there are lots of racial issues still prominent to this day. With all the controversy that has gone on do to racial issues, it is sad to say that racism still exists. People are not born racist, so where do they learn how to be racist? It is from the environment that have been associated with since a young age. If racial issue were talked about around young children during their developmental stages, the children will know no better and grow up believing what they heard as a child. Those beliefs then may be taught to their children and so forth. A persons reality only becomes a reality due to where they grow up and what they want to believe and what they were taught. Language is the basis of all beliefs that are brought about in todays society. Adichie’s TED talk shows that stereotypes exist all over the world and if people weren’t so quick to judge then we could learn a lot of fascinating things about many other countries that are not known.
    An example of one “single story” that is prominent in my life goes along with the show The Jersey Show. Being from Toms River, I have heard many stereotypes about my town because of the show. Toms River is located right next to Seaside Heights where the show was filmed. When I tell people where I am from, I sometimes get weird looks and people say “Oh you are from the Jersey Shore?” The show has made my town look very dirty and wild. Many people who are not from around where I live think most of the people act the same way as the cast did. The bottom line is, people will judge a book by it’s cover before they read a few pages.

  23. In this ted talk she talks about how she moved from Africa to the United States. Moving in my opinion is a big adjustment. You are starting another life in a new place that you may be unfamiliar with. She is very positive and when she moved to the United States she did not let what others thought of her effect who she is as a person. She is from Africa just because she is from Africa does not consider her poor and that is what her roommate thought of her as.You can not assume things when you do not know know the person’s family history.
    You need to communicate with people to get to know who they are as a person. For example, ask them where they are from, what their favorite sport is, what music they listen to and then maybe ask them about their family background. Her ted talk was very motivational. You can not just assume things of other people you have to get to know who they are as a person before making assumptions, and that is why communicating with other people to get to know ho they are as a person is important.

  24. In this ted talk Adichie talks about how she moved from Africa to the United States. Moving in my opinion is a big adjustment. You are starting another life in a new place that you may be unfamiliar with. She is very positive and when she moved to the United States she did not let what others thought of her affect who she is as a person. She is from Africa just because she is from Africa does not consider her poor and that is what her roommate thought of her as.You can not assume things when you do not know know the person’s family history.
    You need to communicate with people to get to know who they are as a person. For example, ask them where they are from, what their favorite sport is, what music they listen to,and then maybe ask them about their family background. Her ted talk was very motivational. You can not just assume things of other people you have to get to know who they are as a person before making assumptions, and that is why communicating with other people to get to know who they are as a person is important. You do not know someones life unless you ask them questions so if you just assume things about who they are as a person you could be wrong because they may not be the person that you are assuming they are before you even have a conversation with them.Going back to the example that I talked about in the first paragraph that I wrote how her roommate thought that she was poor because she came from Africa does not mean anything. Not everyone has the same financial issue. So judging some one based off of what class they come from is not a good way to start out getting to know who they are as a person , and that is why I think communicating with others and asking them questions about their family history before just assuming things is a good way to get to know who they are as a person.

  25. We live in a society where language shapes reality in multiple ways. One way is that language is used to get people’s point across. Another way is that people speak a certain language in certain ways. If a person speaks a proper way it may show that they may have class. If a person speaks in a slang way all the time they may not have as much class versus a person that always speaks proper.

    If feel like stereotypes are always subjective. Stereotypes go off based on what the see and what they experienced in their own life versus someone that knows other people’s views. For instance we have people that think that everyone in New Jersey I considered rude. That’s not necessarily true but it’s a lot of peoples’ opinions because there are some nice people the live in New Jersey. We have people that already live in New Jersey that say that they are ready to move out because they can’t take the cruelty that goes on.

  26. The way we speak and the language we use is very influential in modern society because it can express who we are. Those who have accents are representing where they are from and what their identity is. Language is the way we communicate with one another which opens up new doors and relationships between people. The way a person speaks is developed at a young age through their environment and the people around them. .There are many stereotypes attached to these ways of speaking.One thing that is controversial with this it that people make snap judgments about others that speak with either a slang or foreign accent. For example, if a man thats speak with a slang goes for a job interview and isn’t hired because the way he speaks makes him sound unintelligent or ‘gangster’, does that make him unqualified for the job? This sort of behavior can stem into a sort of racism that comes along with these stereotypical judgments of language.
    Adichie’s speech spoke out about a very important and probelmatic topic. People who tend to believe in these single stories are either close minded or uneducated on the topic which makes it challenging for them to understand more than what is in front of them. Single stories also create stereotypes which are almost always invalid. The way someone perceives a certain place,person, or event is based off of where they grew up and the education they received. In her speech, she spoke about her American roommate, who are she told her she was African, had this patronizing pity for her because of her lack of knowledge of Africa. She thought that Adichie was raised in a tribe and didn’t think she knew how to operate common household appliances. Near the end of her speech, she stated, “Show a person one thing, as only one thing over and over again, and that is what they become”(Adichie). This quote means that if a person is given the same information over and over again, they are going to deem it true without ever learning more or the other side to that topic. If a certain stereotype is believed, that stereotype is applied to all people of that kind and is not always true, which is exactly what Adichie experienced.

  27. Language shapes our reality in a big way in today’s world especially in America. America was built off of immigrants so different languages are everywhere around us. If you don’t know English here in America you might come to a point where you hit a language barrier for example when you order Chinese food. We may get mad when they mess up our orders or make us repeat our orders but it is not their faults English is one of the toughest languages to learn. English has many words that mean different things in other languages for example gift in English we know it as a Christmas gift but in the German language it means poison. The word brat means brother in Russian the list could go on and on. The Spanish and Italian language have similar sentence structure which would make it easy for someone who is Spanish or Italian speaking to pick up the other language. English has a very unique sentence structure that has subject, object, then verb. In other languages that structure is changed around a lot which makes English much harder than other languages.
    Stereotypes are all around us today with everything going on in today’s world. Adichie states “ The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.” In today’s world we base our stereotypes off of many things that we have been through in our lives. In America many stereotypes are based off of African Americans or Muslims which only makes us bad people. Not everyone is the same because of where they come from or what ethnicity they are. Stereotypes are mad by the wrong people and if you believe them that puts you on the same level as them.

  28. There are 6,500 languages in the world and each language portrays a country’s culture and tradition. The way we look at things and how we interpret the events around us all differ base on our language. For instance, in Spanish, the word “derecho” means right (to go right). While in my language, Tagalog, “derecho” means to go straight. Another one is the word “universidad” in Spanish means college while in Tagalog “universidad” means university while “kolehiyo” is our word for college. It is amazing that with the exact same spelling and same pronunciation, the meaning of a word can change with respect to what language it was used. In instances when a native English speaker says a slang word to someone who only uses English as his second language, there is a big chance that he will probably not understand the native English speaker, or he might understand it but in a completely different way and this is all because they have different languages.

    What stood out for me in the video is Adichie’s statement, “The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.” We always have something to say to people from different race. I myself is guilty that I make stereotypes too because of the way the news, books, movies, magazines and such describe people’s way of living in other countries. This is the reason why giving stereotypes in this generation has become a norm to us. As an Asian, when I came to the United States, I have heard a lot of stereotypes about us. Some of them are “You must be good in Math because you’re Asian.”; “Asians eat dog meat”; and “All Asians look the same”. Though some of the stereotypes are true, we need to remember that there are always two sides of the story. With these single sided stories that we hear about other countries, we tend to judge everyone who came from that country base on the stories that we heard. With that kind of thinking, we are missing a bigger opportunity to expand our knowledge and understanding of the other’s culture, beliefs, and way of thinking.

  29. Language shapes our reality in many different ways. It affects the way we view things. Along with how we understand different topics. For example, people from South/Central Jersey say “Pork Roll” but people from North Jersey say “Taylor Ham”. However it means the same thing.

    An example of a single sided story is when it comes to Police and Minorities. Minorites see Police differently then White people do. Thats because they’ve seen or been taught that, their first ones Police will go after if something happens. Becuase of this Police have gained a bad reputation with them. However it is only because of a few Cops that this reputation exists.

  30. Language shapes our reality in thousands of ways being as though there are thousands of languages. As we talked about in our class with different countries using the past, the present, and future as almost the same thing when speaking on something. Where as though us in America we speak so different and it is known as one of the hardest languages, but yet we use so much slang to make things easier or to dumb it down.

    As others above mentioned, stereotypes are always subjective. Stereotypes are based on what we see and what we experienced in our life against what really is going on. Basically we judge off of one experience and it is not right. We wouldn’t want it done to us. “Single Story” can make you look at someone or a situation so different and automatically judge them or the situation. That’s where the “don’t judge a book by its cover” comes in.

  31. In Chimamanda Adichie’s TED talk she talks about her life story and childhood. She tells us about what it was like to live in Africa which made me realize how different we are in America. Language shapes are reality in many different ways that we do not know about. Just for example, here in New Jersey some people would be like “Want to go to the shore” where as people from the West coast will say “Want to go to the beach”. Although we are not that far away from each other like Africa and the United States we still tend to do things differently here on the East Coast rather than the West Coast. Thats why when we visit places we are unfamiliar with they tend to do things that can tend to be very different from how it is at home. Even in our everyday lives we meet people whom speak different languages which means that they have a different meaning to things we know as a “ball” or a “rock”.
    One story that I have recently just read in my class is the novel “The Diary of a True Part-Time Indian”. Junior is a Indian and after many cases of bullying at his school he decides to leave his previous school and attend a all white preppy school. Junior when he goes to this new school he is given stereotypes just based on his nationality. Many of them were sometimes true about Junior some we still very harsh and rude resulting in himself having a hard home life and also a hard social life. Since this white school did not like kids like Junior attending their mascot of the new school he attends was a Indian. Junior hated the fact that his mascot was a Indian because usually mascots are not what people actually are. Junior also plays basketball at his school and he always would make the news paper header about something referring to how he is a Indian. I believe that when people are given the chance to meet someone new and learn there culture they should. It gives them a whole new outlook on life and helps them learn more about what is happening in the world.

  32. She come from a comventional middle-class Nigerian family.She father was a professor.She mother was administor.And so we had as was the norm live in demestic help,who would often come nearby rural village.so I began to relize that my american roommate just have throughtout her life seen and heard different version of a single story had a professor who once told me that my kovel was not authentically african now.I was quite wiling to contend that were a number wrong with the novel that it had failedinanumber of places but i had not quite imagined that it had failed at achieving some thing called african authentically so the fact is that I don’t what african authentically was .

  33. In this video, Chimamanda talks about growing up middle class reading stuff about Europeans and wondering where she would fit in. She also explains how she expected what she read about them to be true. This was the same thing she thought about all Mexican people. She read about how they are always hopping the border, selling drugs and much more bad things. This was also similar to the stories she heard about Africa. Society shapes her people as poor, hopeless, and full of diseases.
    However in the world world, Chamamanda realized that this was not true at all. It was only a stereotype on what society put on these different races. Things aren’t the way they seem until you have your own personal experience about it. Chimamanda basically said that it isnt right to put a bad reputation on an entire race, just because you hear something bad about a person of that whole race.

  34. In Chimamanda Adichie’s TED talk she speaks about her life past and her childhood. she grew up in a middle class Nigerian family. her father being a professor and her mother an administer. She describes how it was to live in Africa. she tells us about how she had a house boy and how her mother would tell her that his family was poor and whenever she didn’t want to finish her mother would yell at her saying ” don’t you know people like fide’s family have nothing”. so she grew to feel nothing but pity for them thinking that his family was so poor and that they could be nothing but poor. until she goes over to their home and is shocked when she realizes its different.
    she then speaks about how she goes to college in the U.S and her room mate is so shocked at her English, that she listens to Mariah Carey, she thought she couldn’t operate a stove and even felt sorry for her before even meeting her. Her room mate had a single story thought that no-one in Africa could be anything like her. she thought that her and an Africa could never have a human connection.
    She too created a single story about Mexicans. she felt surprised and shamed because she fell into the media’s hype and coverage of Mexicans. she was taught so much about them being immigrants crossing the border, selling drugs and etc that she looked at them that way . Once she visited Mexico she realized that she fell victim to single story point of vies.
    Chamamanda’s speech taught me that you should never just listen and run with a single story. a single story robs people of dignity like she says. creating a single story and co-signing a single story somewhat shows ignorance, because you are not educating yourself on what is actually going on but yet you are siding with what someone else is saying about someone else or where they are from. Single story is very stereotypic . Stereotypes still exist today and its very sad. I can never partake in any single story activities or any stereotypes. its very rude to just agree with what someone tells you without getting to know someone or somewhere. although we do things different here then they do in Africa we should not judge. of course we will be shocked at how different things are but we should not be single sided and just take what someone else says and go. stereotypes are things that will never go away sadly.

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