Study Guide

Alligator Bayou Language and Communication

By Donna Jo Napoli

Language and Communication

Being new to a country is hard enough—there are new customs and new cultural protocol to sort out—but in Alligator Bayou, Calo's family has the additional struggle of not speaking English. And while Calo and a few members of his family have learned English, they haven't all, and the English they do speak is different from the people in their town who were born in the United States. Calo speaks a sort of formal English—the kind of English someone speaks when they're being taught how to speak it correctly, instead of conversationally—and some of his uncles speak broken English. No matter how much English they have, though, Calo and his family are definitely navigating a language barrier in this book.

Questions About Language and Communication

  1. How does language play into racism?
  2. How is communication affected by differences in language?
  3. What does language have to do with friendship? With making enemies?

Chew on This

If Giuseppe spoke English when he approached Dr. Hodge about Francesco's broken heart instead of Italian, Calo's entire family might still be alive at the end of the book.

This book shows that communication doesn't have to involve a lot of common language to be successful.

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