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Half Caste and Search for my tongue

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Both poems “Half Caste” by Agard and “Search for my tongue” by Bhatt use non-standard English within their writing to portray strong messages.

In Half Caste, the poem is written as a patois and we are shown that Agard uses non-standard English to make the reader feel as though having mixed languages between English and Caribbean is a good thing, rather than making the person incomplete or simply being “half”.

Agard takes the idea of a multicultural society and incorporates both English and Caribbean influences to create a sense of incompleteness.

“Explain yuself, wha yu mean?” shows the reader a fusion between both languages and also helps to bring out the personality of the writer as if to show that the person is abrasive, direct and informal, refusing the fact that some people cannot accept who he is, acting as though having two languages is a bad thing.

Agard also uses non-standard English by using repetition within “Half Caste”, placing the reader on the spot as if he was speaking directly to the reader.

By using the phrase, “Explain yuself, wha yu mean?” Agard creates a sense of non-standard English through repetition and the fact that the phrase is direct and places the reader on the spot, as if it is asking the opinion of the reader creates a strong message to show that some people cannot seem to accept who he is, being of a mixed language and that it is not his fault and is therefore trying to make people realise that being mixed does not mean you must be classed as half a person.

On the other hand, Bhatt in “Search for my tongue” uses non-standard English to show that being of a mixed language can also be a bad thing, creating problems moving from one culture to another.

Bhatt shows us as a reader that she finds it difficult to create a balance between her two cultures and that she feels endangered of losing one and is uncomfortable with an unfamiliar language as she seems to be forgetting her mother tongue.

“Munay huttoo kay aakhee jeebh aakhee bhasha” shows Bhatt’s use of non-standard English to show that the persona has not left her mother tongue, but has just simply been misplaced in being within a different culture and provides a strong message in that she is finding her language again.

This therefore shows us as a reader that the persona is unsure, uncomfortable and confused and makes us empathise with the writer.

Similarly in both poems, Bhatt and Agard both use non-standard English to provide strong messages.

Both writers speak directly to the reader and show that being a person of mixed languages is not a bad thing and does not make a person halved because they share two languages from different cultures.

In “Search for my tongue”, Bhatt makes it clear to the reader that she feels that having a second language is a good thing as she shows that although she felt as if she had forgotten, “It grows back, grows longer, grows moist, grows strong veins”, showing us as a reader that she never wanted to lose her mother tongue and that her language hasn’t really died at all.

Agard however reveals that having a second language is yet again a good thing, but shows this by asking the reader of their opinion and then contradicting it by exaggerating the idea of “half” to excess.

“I’m sure you’ll understand why I’ll offer you half a hand” and “I dream half a dream” shows the reader that just because he is different in terms of language, doesn’t mean that he is different from any other being and that owning a second language doesn’t therefore need to be a bad thing and that it is only a bad thing if others make it so.

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