Using a Bakhtinian analysis of their dialogues and informal literacy practices, she shows how the children use collaborative verbal strategies, stories of personal experience and the reworked voices of others to investigate the moral order and forge their own identities. Policies Disclaimer. Skip to content. Google Scholar: Look up in Google Scholar Abstract Drawing on ethnographic research and discourse analysis of children's talk across the school day, the author investigates how year-old children use talk and literacy to construct knowledge about their social worlds and about themselves, as they negotiate the transition from childhood into adolescence.
Children's voices: talk, knowledge and identity Maybin, Janet Look up in Google Scholar. He pushes the globe away, disgusted. But he got hope. He says, So this one is used up, Herr Agent.
Playful Talk, Learners’ Play Frames and the Construction of Identities
Listen—you got another one? In the restaurant and the train, right there […] Where is my life?
The public articulation of sorrow, grief, pleasure, and want is, for Paley, a measure of the determination to mitigate loss, revealing the post-war Jewish paradox of the sheer pleasure of being in America as measured against a looming history—both distant and proximate—of shared suffering. This inheritance responds to the obligatory conditions of the shared transmission of narratives and individual testimony. That is, the sound and shape of language, its design and presence, is an act of serial, interpretive creation in the face of vulnerability to catastrophe.
That is, a person must not squander opportunities for cultural assimilation.
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Her characters have, as it were, a finely tuned ear for trouble. As such, her communities are fortressed by characters who intuitively recognize danger when untethered from their communities and who share their experience of living on the margins of a refugee culture.
Talk becomes a defense against intrusion, as characters perceive the intrusiveness of a stranger, an interloper who would trespass on the vulnerability of one of their own. They turn around sharp like birds and fly over to the man.
They talk very soft. Why are you bothering this old man, he got enough trouble? He walks away from them backwards. For such wildly unrestrained buoyancy is ironically calculated against its niggling antagonist: a willful obliviousness to a legacy of suffering. You always see things in a rosy light […]. You were like that in sixth grade. For Paley, both the vernacular of the streets and the city itself are places—and discursive topoi —of possibility.
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Hebrew, the loshn koydesh , the holy tongue, has traditionally been the language of scripture and prayer. For the majority of Eastern European Jews before the Holocaust, Yiddish was the language of daily life, the mame loshn , the mother tongue of domesticity, the language in which one loved and labored, the voice of mothers calling children, of navigating a circumscribed yet precarious life as a marginalized, targeted people. In America, acquiring English was, of course, the price for the immigrant of the ticket to middle-class ascension and cultural assimilation.
Here the comic gives way to the precarious conditions of the diaspora: a measure of loss, displacement, and an exilic uncertainty and longing. The texture of the language is both an ethic and a defining characteristic of identity, collective memory, and consanguineous alliance. On the streets of immigrant America for Jews, Yiddish existed alongside English, creating the character of those urban settings.
As Hana Wirth-Nesher correctly suggests, this melding of languages, like the generational blending of immigrants and their American-born offspring, is intuitive, existing often beyond the reach of memory but part of the texture of life. She writes:. Their understanding of what these languages signify is always the result…of both descent, a continuous cultural legacy, and consent, an embrace of American English that also structures their sense of those Jewish languages and accents.
Their remembering, therefore, is not the result of an essential Jewishness that hearkens back to some racial memory but the result of socialization where practices, expectations, and assumptions about the entanglement of language and identity linger in their consciousness.
In other words, their talk is communal, a seemingly endless stretch of talk and meandering conversation, one story ending where another begins, stories nestled within one another like Russian dolls but also expanding outward in creative gestures of self-representation. Indeed, the city is the perfect place for self-fashioning and for the animated, sensory collisions of self-expression.
Storytelling, for Paley, is both structural and thematized in her fiction. And it is no surprise that she depends on the short form, which, in its brevity, density, and sharply purposeful dramatic overtures, compresses action so that voice gives rise to the making of character.
I have an opinion. For Paley, the emphasis is always on how something is talked about, not on what happens, and so her reading of the experience of Jews in post-World War II urban America is fashioned through the performance of language that, not only replaces plot, but makes plot. Plot, for this character and, I suspect, for Paley herself, can be constrictive of storytelling, to the formation of character, and an impediment to its ethical possibilities.
Speech, for Paley, as so many of her stories show, is empowering across generations of 20 th century Jewish experience. It is especially so for the immigrants and their children in her stories, who live on the urban edge of the process of assimilation into mainstream, middle-class American life and who do so with the weight of Jewish history fully on them.