Culture As Translingualism
The word “communication” is defined as “the act or process of using words, sounds, signs, or behaviors to express or exchange information or to express your ideas, thoughts, feelings, etc., to someone else.”(Merriam Webster, communication) Canagarajah believes that most of society thinks that to communicate, they need to speak the same language. Through Avantika’s experiences with her roommate, she proves that instead of trying to communicate with her room by learning the same language as her, they were able to get to know each other through the differences. Ultimately, knowing the same language as Itamar, did not even help Avantika in understanding her roommate. Even though Avantika could understand that “tresay-tresay” literally translated to “thirteen-thirteen”, it did not help her communicate with her roommate because she did not understand the use of the phrase “tresay-tresay”, because it involved a larger understanding of Chilean culture. After the experience with her roommate, Avantika realizes that “language acts as a portal.” (Makar) When one speaks the same language as another, there is often an assumption made that they experienced a similar culture in their past, as Avantika and Itamar both assumed when they decided to spend most of their time with people who spoke the same language as them. Culture is defined as “the beliefs, customs, arts, etc., of a particular society, group, place, or time” (Merriam Webster, Culture). While language will facilitate easier communication, it is not the only portal through which we can communicate with someone. Perhaps society is not attracted to those who speak the same mother tongue because it is easy. If two people speak the same language, there are definitely parts of their identity that overlap, which allow them to share commonalities. As Avantika said, “Language is a portal” not because it is literally easier to speak to someone but because it could imply greater commonalities that are part of one’s identity. By discussing the two cultures that two people share, there is a Translingual connection because there is a cross-cultural conversation that could unite two people over the similarities that their cultures share.