chapter  3
28 Pages

Orality in Literacy: The Uses of Speech in Written Language by Bilingual and Bicultural Writers

At a literacy conference, a woman rushed across the room to talk to me about her reading of one of my published papers. After going through the motions of politely telling me that she had enjoyed the article, she proceeded to tell me that she found me to be exactly what she had expected. I was surprised to hear that, somehow, my writing had conveyed a distinct image. Numerous questions flashed across my mind: Did the publication really reflect my identity? Did it reveal certain aspects of my social and cultural worlds? Did the text really represent me so vividly that the reader had created a memorable portrait? Since that exchange, I have often reflected about how authors reveal an identity, whether they intend to or not, (whether one ever has full control of such matters), and how one achieves this through elements of formal, academic, written language that one would think, by their very nature, would create some objectivity and distance between writer and reader.