Gloria Naylor 'The Meaning of the word', Christine Leong 'Be

Length: 4 Pages 994 Words

Every word has a meaning. To different people, words mean different things and have different effects. And also words mean different things coming from different people. Words and language are strong tools that we use in our everyday life. Essays "the Meaning of a Word" by Gloria Naylor and "Being a Chink" by Christine Leong could be used as examples of how words affect us. In the essay "Meaning of a Word" Gloria Naylor discusses how word can mean different things to different people in different situations. Naylor discusses how a word like "nigger" can go from having a positive to a negative meaning due to how it is spoken and by whom. In her essay author tells us about her personal experience. She describes the first time she heard the word "nigger". A little white boy from her third grade "spit out that word" (389) right in her face. "...I couldn't have been more puzzled. I didn't know what a nigger was, but I knew whatever it meant, it was something he shouldn't have called me." (389) At that time Naylor was just a little girl and she didn't really think about the world "nigger" until the moment it was used to hurt her. Gloria Naylor wrote, "Thinking back, I realize that this could not have been the first time the word Continue...


Eight years later Leong moved fro the suburb to New York City. On the back, in dark blue ink with a large circle drawn around it, was the word CHINK written in my father's handwriting. The word nigger coming from an African-American person directed at another doesn't have a negative meaning. " (395) " I do not remember the first time I was called a chink. As an eleven year old girl she used to work at her father's Chinese restaurant. I wondered if an angry patron who had come in earlier had called him that. " (390) Naylor shares her personal experience with us. There, outlined by the light, was the word chink written backwards. The author describes the first time she not heard but "saw" the word chink. " (389) The author in her story tells us about her big family, and how they were spending every weekend at her grandmother's living room "exchanging gossips". She didn't know that her father knew such a words. "There must have been dozens of times that nigger was spoken in front of me before I reached the third grade.