Amy Tan 's Mother Tongue Essay

Amy Tan 's Mother Tongue Essay

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Amy Tan’s “Mother Tongue” was a short exploration of the variety of English’s between her mother and the public. Tan is a Chinese American novelist, who writes about the difficulties she experienced. She opens up her text with a brief explanation on how she is not the best at English and how she uses more than one. She tells a brief story of the time she, her husband, and her mother were out looking at furniture. When speaking to her mother and sometimes her husband, Tan used a different spoken English. She shortened sentences spoken in the English language and substituted words in exchange for another synonym. She told a story where she was talking about furniture prices with her husband and mother and spoke very abrupt English. “Not waste money that way” (464). She explains how she grew up with a separate English, a more concise English, and has made that language part of life.
Tan explains how people would refer to her mother’s English as “broken or “limited”, even though her mother’s English sounded very clear to her. Tan states, “…when I was growing up, my mother’s “limited” English limited my perception of her” (465). Tan mentions when growing up with her mother she was embarrassed of her mother’s English, because many people wouldn’t take her mother seriously. She went into detail about a hospital appointment her mother was trying to make, but the hospital would not give her any information. She explains how she had to call the hospital herself, in order for the doctor to understand her because of her perfect English.
Besides her mother’s English, Tan explains her struggle with academics. She reports the differences between her math and English test scores. She scored highly in mathematics, but English was proficient. Ne...


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...quite emotional, because she had to pretend to be her mother on the telephone. The communicators on the other end of the line did not understand Tan’s mother or take her very seriously, which I found to be uncivil. It’s important for people to learn to be patient with those who need time to speak and those who have trouble with a secondary language.
Amy Tan’s “Mother Tongue” provoked an emotional response, because I thought it was unfair as to how her mother was being treated. Tan’s mother’s English was not spoken very well, but well enough to understand bits and pieces. I think that the communicators on the other end of the phone could have been more patient with Tan’s mother, because she was speaking English. “Mother Tongue” highlighted the controversial issue many foreign Americans face and I think it’s very important that Amy Tan was able to address this issue.

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