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

             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 was used in my presence." (389) "...the word nigger was used in my presence, but it was set within contexts and inflections that caused it to register in my mind as something else." (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 heard the word nigger from them, but they were using this word in a positive way. The word nigger coming from an African-American person directed at another doesn't have a negative meaning. For them it is form of greeting or recognition. "There must have been dozens of times that nigger was spoken in front of me before I reached the third grade. But I didn't "hear" it unti

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Gloria Naylor 'The Meaning of the word', Christine Leong 'Be. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 07:10, January 22, 2017, from