In the article Mother Tongue, Amy Tan indicates that American immigrants have limitations on speaking English and emphasizes the fact that different language styles interpret people’s unique identities. Tan’s personal experiences show that mother’s “imperfect” English influences her for a life time, and even changes her writing languages.
Tan becomes more conscious of her language use in this essay. At work, she uses sophisticated English. At home, she speaks choppy English, so her mother, who has broken English, can understand her. Even though Tan possesses an extensive English vocabulary, she acknowledges her mother’s English skills. She shows this by telling her mother, “not waste money that way” when shopping for furniture. Tan is conscious of not only her own English skills, but also her mother’s English skills. This broken English shows that she acknowledges cultural diversity since she is also raising awareness that most immigrants struggle with knowing decent English in the process. According to Tan, language “suddenly seemed to me, with nominalized forms, past perfect tenses, conditional phrases, all the forms of standard English that I had learned in school and through books, the forms of English I did not use at home with my mother” (Tan, “Mother Tongue”). This English is the only English where she can successfully communicate with her mother. She could not speak this type of English with her husband or colleagues. As seen with Tan’s mother, is okay to live in the United States without extensive English knowledge. Tan did not force her mother to match her own English. Rather than doing so, Tan was willing to communicate with her mother by speaking in choppy English. Tan concludes that language is a tool that changes depending
Therefore, the younger generations obtain some sense of sympathy toward their ancestors and dreams that were to be fulfilled in The United States. American-born children, ostensibly, are liberated from their parents‟ past. Still, they are obsessed dramatically about their ancestral land. They are haunted by past, and the mystery associated with it; a mysterious past that existed only in the memories of their parents. Intelligently, Tan has used this strategy to narrate her stories. All of Tan‟s novels have parallel narratives, one related to the past which is retold by mothers, and in one case a step sister who has come back from China; and the other is associated with the present stories of daughters about the cultural conflicts and alienation, they feel regarding the ancestral heritage of their home which has been transmitted to them by means of past memories. The point is that storytelling plays an essential position in creation of a new, more Chinese identity, in contrast to the previous American one, McDaniels (2004) states that, Basically, both versions of the stories, mother‟s and daughter‟s are necessary for revealing the complete story, including the painful secrets, whether the pain is alleviated or just changes its context. Both mothers and daughters need to tell their versions and listen to the others‟ versions in order to have all the information necessary to arrange their
“Mother Tongue” is an essay that show the power of language and how Amy Tan uses the many forms of English and the different ways in which the language she knew impacted her life. I feel connected to Tan’s essay because I also come from a multilingual home. I have smart emigrant parents who are educated, but even though they are educated they still need my help with communicating with people occasionally. I believe the most important idea in Tan’s “Mother Tongue” is the limitation that an imperfect English can cause in a society and the richness that such English can bring to
The Essay written by Amy Tan titled 'Mother Tongue' concludes with her saying, 'I knew I had succeeded where I counted when my mother finished my book and gave her understandable verdict' (39). The essay focuses on the prejudices of Amy and her mother. All her life, Amy's mother has been looked down upon due to the fact that she did not speak proper English. Amy defends her mother's 'Broken' English by the fact that she is Chinese and that the 'Simple' English spoken in her family 'Has become a language of intimacy, a different sort of English that relates to family talk' (36). Little did she know that she was actually speaking more than one type of English. Amy Tan was successful in providing resourceful information in every aspect. This gave the reader a full understanding of the disadvantages Amy and her mother had with reading and writing. The Essay 'Mother Tongue' truly represents Amy Tan's love and passion for her mother as well as her writing. Finally getting the respect of her critics and lucratively connecting with the reaction her mother had to her book, 'So easy to read' (39). Was writing a book the best way to bond with your own mother? Is it a struggle to always have the urge to fit in? Was it healthy for her to take care of family situations all her life because her mother is unable to speak clear English?
English is an invisible gate. Immigrants are the outsiders. And native speakers are the gatekeepers. Whether the gate is wide open to welcome the broken English speakers depends on their perceptions. Sadly, most of the times, the gate is shut tight, like the case of Tan’s mother as she discusses in her essay, "the mother tongue." People treat her mother with attitudes because of her improper English before they get to know her. Tan sympathizes for her mother as well as other immigrants. Tan, once embarrassed by her mother, now begins her writing journal through a brand-new kaleidoscope. She sees the beauty behind the "broken" English, even though it is different. Tan combines repetition, cause and effect, and exemplification to emphasize her belief that there are more than one proper way (proper English) to communicate with each other. Tan hopes her audience to understand that the power of language- “the way it can evoke an emotion, a visual image, a complex idea, or a simple truth”- purposes to connect societies, cultures, and individuals, rather than to rank our intelligence.
To conclude, Tan’s claim was that the label “broken” English is overrated because language are meant to be understood by the people you are trying to converse with, not everyone. If everyone understands each other, it makes all of us the same and the term “broken” English wouldn’t exist. Just because you don’t understand someone doesn’t make it broken, it’s like saying that the British English is broken because we can’t really understand them sometimes and have a weird accent, is just too much to call something like that overrated.
Both the brains and the hearts of the audience have been convinced. She also used many rhetorical strategies, like emotional appeal to convey her rough childhood to the reader. She gave numerous examples of being discriminated, and stereotyped because of their race. Tan’s audience reaches out to family members who speak broken English. Amy Tan also comprehends that although people may not be able to speak perfect English, they can comprehend what others are saying, and that you shouldn't discriminate others because of their race. A persons understanding of someone who speaks “broken-English” could be very limited, but the wisdom of the “broken English” speaker is
Despite growing up amidst a language deemed as “broken” and “fractured”, Amy Tan’s love for language allowed her to embrace the variations of English that surrounded her. In her short essay “Mother Tongue”, Tan discusses the internal conflict she had with the English learned from her mother to that of the English in her education. Sharing her experiences as an adolescent posing to be her mother for respect, Tan develops a frustration at the difficulty of not being taken seriously due to one’s inability to speak the way society expects. Disallowing others to prove their misconceptions of her, Tan exerted herself in excelling at English throughout school. She felt a need to rebel against the proverbial view that writing is not a strong suit of someone who grew up learning English in an immigrant family. Attempting to prove her mastery of the English language, Tan discovered her writing did not show who she truly was. She was an Asian-American, not just Asian, not just American, but that she belonged in both demographics. Disregarding the idea that her mother’s English could be something of a social deficit, a learning limitation, Tan expanded and cultivated her writing style to incorporate both the language she learned in school, as well as the variation of it spoken by her mother. Tan learned that in order to satisfy herself, she needed to acknowledge both of her “Englishes” (Tan 128).
In the work of Amy Tan’s “Mother’s Tongue” she provides a look into how she adapted her language to assimilate into American culture. She made changes to her language because her mother heavily relied on her for translation. She was the voice of her mother, relaying information in standard English to those who were unable to understand her mother’s broken english. She tells about her mother’s broken english and its impact on her communication to those outside their culture. Her mothers broken english limited others’ perception of her intelligence, and even her own perception of her mother was scewed: Tan said, “I know this for a fact, because when I was growing up, my mothers ‘limited’ English limited my perception of her. I was ashamed of her English. I believed that her English reflected the quality of what she had to say.” (419) The use of standard english was a critical component to Tan’s assimilation into American culture. Standard English was an element she acquired to help her mother but more importantly is was an element that helped in her gain success as a writer. Tan changed her ‘Englishes’ (family talk) to include standard English that she had learnt in school and through books, the forms of English that she did not use at home with her mother. (417-418) Tan realized the ch...
In the essay “Mother Tongue” Amy Tan, the author, gives a different, a more upbeat outlook on the various forms of English that immigrants speak as they adapt to the American culture. Using simple language to develop her argument, she casually communicates to the audience rather than informing which helps the audience understand what is being presented at ease. Her mother plays an important role in her outlook of language, because she helps her realize that language not only allows one to be a part of a culture but create one’s identity in society. Amy Tan shares her real life stories about cultural racism and the struggle to survive in America as an immigrant without showing any emotions, which is a wonderful epiphany for the audience in realizing
The second and third sections are about the daughters' lives, and the vignettes in each section trace their personality growth and development. Through the eyes of the daughters, we can also see the continuation of the mothers' stories, how they learned to cope in America. In these sections, Amy Tan explores the difficulties in growing up as a Chinese-American and the problems assimilating into modern society. The Chinese-American daughters try their best to become "Americanized," at the same time casting off their heritage while their mothers watch on, dismayed. Social pressures to become like everyone else, and not to be different are what motivate the daughters to resent their nationality. This was a greater problem for Chinese-American daughters that grew up in the 50's, when it was not well accepted to be of an "ethnic" background.
Tan also reflects on how her broken English with whom she shares with her mother is her mother tongue, and how this broken English has shaped who she is today. I am able to identify with Tan’s feelings as my grandmother who is a native Puerto Rican, has her own “mother tongue” as she still speaks in broken English. After my mother passed away when I was three, my grandmother moved in to help raise my sisters and I as we were very young. My grandmother used the same broken English Tan’s mother’s had used and my feelings towards it mirrored Tan’s at an early age. I remember because my father worked during the day my grandmother had to attend parent teacher conferences in his place. As I was still too young, my grandmother dragged me along and made me wait outside. We had waited in line for about two hours before finally being called for my conference. After a few minutes in, one of my teachers walks outside of the classroom and asks me if I know Spanish, to which I reply no. As the teacher walks back into the room I hear a resounding “Ma’am we must reschedule…there are other parents waiting and we cannot understand you, and we are pretty sure you
Tan first presented a love for her mother. The words and candour of speech that her mother uses reminds her of home and family. Her mother’s way of speaking seems natural to Tan and shaped how she interacted and reflected on the world around her. Tan took issue with the term “broken” as a description of her mother 's language because she saw nothing broken or limited in the way that her mother was able to share ideas. The limits for her mother was not how she organized her words in her sentences but rather it was how people would treat her when they heard her speak the way she does. Tan became accustomed to dealing with authorities who would not listen to her mother 's broken language. The stockbroker who tried not to pay her and the doctor who ‘lost’ her test results. Tan however also believes that her mother limited her in the way she was able to learn and what she excelled at in school. Math and sciences came easier to Tan than language, she struggled with the ambiguity of writing. Tan out of rebellion and passion started to write seriously and went on to write novels like The Joy Luck Club with complex sentence structure and academic words. She later found that using her family and her mother’s English that she was able to see her mother for her true ideas and passion. Her story is one of a second generation
Amy Tan, the author of The Joy Luck Club, talks about in the article, Mother Tongue, how her mother’s broken English would affect her daily life, how people treat her because of it, and how she felt about her mother’s language. She also talks about when she was in school she was pushed towards science and maths because of her cultural background, as an Asian American student; when she really wanted to write English and become an English major. In the beginning paragraph of the article Tan explains how she has to depict the different Englishes she uses through her daily life in writing and how she is able to deal with it.