Free Study Guide for I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings: Book Summary|
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LANGUAGE / DIALECT
Maya’s language, which is largely that of a young girl, is touching in its simplicity; but it is also filled with rich and dazzling images that effectively capture both the joy and suffering of her childhood. Maya uses a variety of techniques to characterize and bring to life her past. Her memoirs are recorded in a naturalistic manner using anecdotes, dialectical variations, Biblical allusions, and other literary styles. Her language is appealing not only because of its attention to detail but also because of the use of comic relief.
padre - Spanish work for father
paisano - Spanish word for peasant
pedal pushers - a style of women’s pants that stop at mid-calf
Pig Latin - a supposedly secret language for children, where they put the initial consonant plus ay at the end of every syllable of a word. Spoken rapidly, Pig Latin can be hard to decipher. For example, "come fast" would be said "omecay astfay" in Pig Latin.
pince-nez - small eyeglasses that are used for seeing things up close and that are worn on the end of the nose.
pobrecita - Spanish word meaning poor little thing
policias - Spanish word for police officers
pollo en salsa verde - a Mexican dish in which the chicken is cooked and covered in a green chili sauce
Que tiene? Que pasa? Que quiere? - What do you have? What’s happening? What do you want? in Spanish
Quien es? - Who is this? in Spanish
risco - Spanish word for cliff
Rye-al-toh - the mispronunciation of a movie theater that is really the Rialto, named after an ornate bridge in Venice, Italy
senoritas - Spanish word for young, unmarried women
six bits - seventy-five cents
teenincy - a slang work for tiny
tithe - 10% of a person’s income, which is supposed to be given back to the Lord in appreciation for His many gifts
Zapata - a well-known 19 th century Mexican revolutionary
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