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"the 'f Word'," by Firoozeh Dumas & "the Gift of Language”, by Lan Cao

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"The 'F Word'," by Firoozeh Dumas & "The Gift of Language”, by Lan Cao

In “The “F” Word” and “The Gift of Language”, Firoozeh Dumas and Lan Cao talk about their immigrant experiences when they moved from their native lands (Iran and Vietnam, respectively) to America. Dumas focuses on Americans’ reaction to her Iranian name while Cao shows how her transition was easier than that of her mother. Although Dumas and Cao have different points to prove, their methodologies are similar in some respects and their arguments are persuasive.

Dumas attempts to prove that Americans are not open-minded to unfamiliar names, sounds, and pronunciations. She confesses that she found it difficult to use her name because American children had trouble pronouncing it and ridiculed her. Consequently, she decided to adopt an American middle name. When she became a stay-at-home mother, Dumas changed her decision and resorted to her birth name after coming to the realization that she was not the problem but rather, Americans were because they had trouble adjusting to the culturally-diverse world.

Cao tries to prove that moving to a foreign land involves a drastic change with some necessary adjustments. For instance, Cao and her mother had to learn English, adapt to suburbia life, and know how to shop in a grocery store (Cao 615).

Dumas uses humor to criticize Americans for their pronunciation weaknesses. For instance, she observes that “America would be a richer country if they could do a litter tongue aerobics and learn to pronounce more syllables” (605). In addition, Dumas criticize Americans’ tendency to Americanize people’s names. For instance, she applies American pronunciation to her family members’ names by taking their roots or prefixes and combining these with an insulting phrase. For example, “Farshid” (which means he who has insight) is transformed into “Farshit” (Dumas 605). Dumas also notes the way they shorten names like Susan and William to Sue and Bill, respectively. Moreover, Dumas employs a metaphor through which she compares Americans’ need to include additional syllables in their vocabulary to “adding a few new spices to the kitchen pantry” (Dumas 605).

Like Dumas, Cao uses a metaphor to describe her learning experience. She compares the words of the English language to a “round stone, with the smoothness of something that had been rubbed and polished by the waves of a warm summer beach” (Cao 615). She reveals that she had minimal difficulty comprehending and grasping the English language. Unlike Dumas, Cao employs imagery to demonstrate how shopping differed in American and Vietnamese cultures. She describes the high standards of neatness in American grocery stores. She observes that food is ““meticulously arranged into a pyramid” (Cao 615).

Dumas’ argument is persuasive. She appeals to logic by demonstrating her claim using examples of Americanized names. The reader can understand the reason behind the Americanization of foreign names – so that Americans find them easier to pronounce. Dumas also explains why she changed her name while in middle school. It was logical that she did so because with an American name, it would be easier to fit in with her peers. The



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