What does Anzaldúa mean by “linguistic terrorism” in Borderlands/La Frontera?

What Anzaldúa means by “linguistic terrorism” in Borderlands/La Frontera is the attack upon Chicano Spanish by the dominant culture and by other Spanish speakers, which has been internalized by Chicanas themselves.



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In a section of Borderlands/La Frontera entitled “Linguistic Terrorism,” Gloria Anzaldúa decries the way in which Chicano Spanish has been marginalized and rejected by Spanish speakers as nothing more than poor Spanish.

To some extent, Spanish speakers who attack Chicano Spanish have internalized the contempt of the dominant white culture for any language that isn't English. Anzaldúa argues that such an internalization of the dominant white attitude has served to set Spanish speakers in the United States against each other.

This helps to explain why Chicanas feel decidedly uncomfortable speaking in Spanish to Latinas. For Latinas, Spanish is their first language; they've been immersed in it for their whole lives. As such, Chicanas are afraid of talking to them for fear of being censured for their supposedly bad Spanish.

For Anzaldúa, this is a very serious matter indeed. If someone, be it Chicana or Latina, has a low estimation of her native tongue, then that means they have a low estimation of her. Even some Chicanas have become convinced that Chicano Spanish is an illegitimate, “bastard” language. This is a direct result of the internalization process of the dominant social attitude that we mentioned earlier.

The main consequences of these attacks on Chicano Spanish, both internal and external, are a diminishment of a sense of self among Chicanas, low self-esteem, and shame.

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