Study Guide

The Latin Deli: An Ars Poetica Language and Communication

By Judith Ortiz Cofer

Language and Communication

Let's face it: it really wouldn't be a Latin deli without a little Spanish. It would just be a regular deli, serving regular cold cuts to regular people. While that may still be delicious, it doesn't make the point that Ortiz Cofer is driving home in "The Latin Deli: An Ars Poetica": language is a part of who we are. The Spanish in the deli—spoken among the clients and read on the labels—provides a way for people to connect with their culture and remember their past.

Questions About Language and Communication

  1. Why do you think the shoppers read the food labels out loud?
  2. What is the effect of putting the Spanish words in italics?
  3. Despite all the speaking in this poem, our store owner is silent. Why do you think that is?

Chew on This

The poem shows us that language is as much a part of our cultural identity as anything else.

As this poem demonstrates, if you can't communicate with others, then you'll never truly feel at home.

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