Language in the Black Community for James Baldwin and Gloria Naylor

Updated November 13, 2021

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Language in the Black Community for James Baldwin and Gloria Naylor essay

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James Baldwin and Gloria Naylor have similar ideas when it comes to language for the black community. Although in their essays their tones are completely different. They see two views of the same argument. Baldwin and Naylor do not have the same influences which cause their styles to be different in their writings. Baldwin and Naylor have the same view of language in a black community; however, they differ in style, tone, and influences. Baldwin’s style of his essay is very formal. He shows lots of facts in his essay to back up his point.

Baldwin does not just talk about language as a form of communication. He also talks about how language can classify someone, like different backgrounds or social class. He backs this up by adding the reason for all of this is black diaspora, which is when tribes were split up due to slavery. Baldwin adds that “the slave was given, … Congo Square, and the Bible … the slave began the formation of the black church, and it is within this unprecedented tabernacle that black English began to be formed.” (1979/2013, p. 800).

Baldwin has many opinions in his essay about the black community, but he also backs them up with facts or history. He does not give many examples in his essay. Naylor’s style of her essay is story like. Naylor begins her story, “I remember the first time heard the word nigger.” (1986, para. 3). She tells her story, then tells how the n-word was used in her community, “the word nigger was used in my presence, but it was set within contexts and inflections that cause it to register in my mind as something else.” (Naylor, 1986, para. 5). She does not have many facts.

Naylor starts her essay with some information then she goes into her personal story about a fellow classmate calling her the n-word. This is followed by examples from her community about how the n-word was used and that it was used very differently than how the white kid used it in class. Naylor’s essay has little information at the beginning and the end, but most of her essay is a story. Naylor’s essay is filled with many personal examples and how she felt; she did not include many facts within her essay. Baldwin and Naylor have very different styles. They talk about the same concept of language in the black community.

Baldwin had many facts, but not many examples or personal experiences; however, Naylor had her personal experience and many examples but not many facts. Baldwin’s tone towards black English is very bias. He strongly believes that black English should be its own language. He gets very passionate when he talks about why there is black English. He talks about black diaspora, and how if the whites do not care to teach blacks how to read, write, and speak, then they have to figure it out on their own; this is why there is a black English. During his essay, it seems that certain topics he gets into and is passionate about while other times he calms down and gives the facts. Naylor’s tone in her essay is very mellow. She shares her experiences and lets the reader interpret her essay however they want. Naylor says that “I’m not going to enter the debate here about whether it is language that shapes reality or vice versa. That battle is doomed” (1986, para. 2).

Naylor is biased, but she knows that she needs to write this essay in an informative way, not a biased way. Naylor tries to inform her readers that there is a language in her black community that others may not know about or have noticed. Her essay is trying to take the issue of the n-word and how it is used by a white person versus how it used by a black person in her community. She goes through and explains all of the ways the n-word is used in her community to emphasize that the way the white boy in her class used it was completely different than what she had heard her whole life. Baldwin and Naylor’s tones of their writings had some similarities at times, but their tones were mostly different.

Baldwin and Naylor had their moments of calm and neutral standing statements. Baldwin went from calm to passionate and bias many times in his essay while Naylor stayed quite calm and informative throughout her essay. Baldwin’s influences from what he is talking about in his essay to the way he interprets information goes back to when he was young. Baldwin began preaching in his father’s church which makes his essay seem passionate, preacherly styler typewriting. The whole topic about black English came to him young when he was taught Ebonics in school; then later in his life when writers he was working with rejected his use of language.

Baldwin was worried that whites would judge those who spoke black English and automatically put them lower than themselves. His concern for language was because how whites used language defined black people and he believed that black people should be able to define themselves with their language. Naylor’s influences are from the experiences she had as a kid. Naylor, prior to writing this essay, was already a well-known author. Naylor used her experiences as a kid to write this essay and she was passionate about sharing her experience with how language was different in her life.

Baldwin and Naylor’s influences were very similar. Both of their essays were written because of something that happened in their lives and how they grew up had a big impact on how their essays were constructed. Naylor’s influences were different in the way that her experiences were when she was a kid, but she wrote her essay later in her life. Baldwin wrote his essay due to experiences throughout his life that impacted him. Baldwin did not talk about these experiences; however, Naylor’s essay was all about her experience. Baldwin’s essay has a very interesting purpose. He wrote this essay in hopes to inform the readers and to shine light on a social issue.

Baldwin brings up that language is a political act where groups of people can judge others for their language. He also shows the difference between dialect and language. He argues that the way black people speak is not a dialect but its own language. Baldwin talks about the brutal truth that most white people had no interest to teach black people. All of these ideas were brought to the public by Baldwin. He wanted to put his opinions out into the world. Naylor’s essay has a very personal purpose. She wanted to put her experiences out there and have someone read and learn from her experiences. Naylor wanted to inform others what the n-word meant in her black community.

“Words themselves are innocuous; it is the consensus that gives them true power.” (Naylor, 1986, para. 2). Naylor’s main point in her essay was to explain that a word can mean different things. A consensus determines how a word is interpreted. Baldwin and Naylor’s essays are the same when it comes to them trying to shine light on an issue that is similar. Naylor does this by using her experiences and she goes into detail about each way language changes in her community. Baldwin goes more into the history of why language changes. Baldwin is more argumentative because he wants language used in a black community to be black English, not just a dialect. Baldwin and Naylor’s essays have many similarities and differences. They are talking about the same subject but in two different ways.

Both Baldwin and Naylor are talking about language in the black community. Naylor goes into specifics and real-life experiences while Baldwin goes into social reasoning and the history behind black English. They told their stories completely different. Baldwin had many facts and backed up everything he said, while Naylor told more a story and had many examples in her essay. Their tones were the same at some points. Naylor stayed more calm and consistent throughout her essay. Baldwin was all over the place. He went from calm to passionate to angry, very quick in his essay. The influences that impacted them to make these essays are interesting.

Naylor and Baldwin had influences from when they were a kid that changed the way they wrote their essay or made the essay itself. Baldwin’s childhood impacted the way he wrote more than his meaning behind the essay; however, Naylor’s essay was all about a childhood experience. Naylor and Baldwin wrote in a completely different way, but they were both about the same subject. Baldwin and Naylor’s essays were different in style, tone, and influences; however, they had the same view of language in a black community.

Language in the Black Community for James Baldwin and Gloria Naylor essay

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Language in the Black Community for James Baldwin and Gloria Naylor. (2021, Nov 13). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/language-in-the-black-community-for-james-baldwin-and-gloria-naylor/


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