Professor Syndee Wood
29 October 2014
Analysis: “Mother Tongue” by Amy Tan
The essay “Mother Tongue” by Amy Tan delivers a remarkable point about linguistic discrimination without specifically showing anger. It’s a story about Tan and her mother, and the language they share together, which is an imperfect variation of English. Tan establishes that language is her tool for being a writer. She loves the power of language, and she uses all the languages she’s familiar with in her writing. When Tan says languages, she’s referring to the two variations of English she frequently uses; perfect English, and the “simple” English she uses when speaking to her Chinese mother. Tan presents real life stories about her mom struggling in certain situations because of how she speaks English. She too explains the limitations she has faced in her early life because her understanding of the English language was quite different from the typical American culture. As a fellow Asian-American with immigrant parents, I have a sense of understanding of what she went through because I experienced similar outcomes and prejudices that came with the imperfection of the English language. Tan’s story is a real eye-opener and demonstrates that “limited” English definitely has its restrictions in life, but it still holds meaning sentimental significance.
Tan holds a love and fascination for language, and she uses all of them as a writer, meaning “all the Englishes” she grew up with. She establishes that the English language comes in “variations, in this country and in others” (Tan). Tan wants readers to know that English doesn’t just have one standard form. Tan explains the power of language as being able to “evoke an emotion, a visual ...
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...t everyday situations because of society’s perceptions on the limited English speaker. People shouldn’t define a person’s intelligence based on how imperfect their English sounds. Individuals need to realize that linguistic discrimination is wrong, and they should treat everyone with respect, whether they can speak perfect English or not. A simplified variation of English also has the ability to hold meaning and sentimental value. It can be another language between a mother and daughter, or a husband and wife. It’s a type of English that can remind a person of growing up with their parents who are from another country. In the end, words are more than just words, and sometimes you must look behind them to understand their true meaning.
"Mother Tongue, by Amy Tan." Olypen. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Oct. 2014.
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