The Power of Language in American Culture

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The Power of Language in American Culture

Culture is a part of everyone's life, whether we choose to express it in our everyday lives or to just be aware of its presence. A major part of one's culture is a defining language. The topic of assimilation versus multiculturalism directly relates to culture in America, and even more specifically to the power of language in American culture. Since language is the basis of communication I think that all immigrants must assimilate to a certain degree by speaking English, while preserving their heritage if they choose to do so.

Language is a very powerful thing. It is the way that people communicate with each other. For a foreigner living in America I think that this is essential. This is why I believe that if a foreigner only attempts to learn English, then they are already assimilating to American culture. Whether or not they choose to change their whole lifestyle into an American way of life, if they take on the English language then they are assimilating to a certain extent.

Amy Tan is the author of the essay Mother Tongue. In this essay, she explains how the power of language has influenced her life through her mother and the experiences they have had together concerning her mother's English-speaking ability, or lack there of. She was born into a Chinese family where both Chinese and English were spoken. She is sensitive to and accepting of people's lingual differences. She talks about how the inability to speak English well in America gives others the wrong impression: "...everything is limited, including people's perceptions of the limited English speaker" (Tan 13). She is saying here that prolific English speakers place limitations on people who have limited English-speak...

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...who you ask. It can mean many different things to many different people. I don't think that there is one right answer to the question: What is American culture? One thing for sure is that in order to truly be a part of a culture, you must be able to communicate with those around you. Therefore, I think it is essential that foreigners learn and speak English while preserving their heritage in America. The English language is a very powerful and useful tool. To those who enter this country, it can mean the difference between taken seriously or being taken for granted.

Sources Cited

Bray, Thomas. "Memorial Day and Multiculturalism." Detroit News 24 May 1998.

25 September 2005. .

Tan, Amy. "Mother Tongue." Across Cultures. Eds. Sheena Gillespie and Robert Singleton. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1999. 26-31.
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