Tools of the Trade

828 Words4 Pages
Tools of the Trade To many people, language was not seen as a form of communication, but as a barrier that cut them off from the world. This was a common problem for people coming from other countries or who grew up under privileged. Amy Tan and Jimmy Santiago Baca each tell a personal story of how they overcame their own language obstacles. Tan struggled with her mother’s “broken” English. Baca had to endure most of his young life facing prison and illiteracy. As they went through their experiences with speech, they defied stereotypes and became successful. Even though each story is told from a different situational point of view, they have a similar message. Amy Tan’s short article called “Mother Tongue” shows a limitation in speech does not necessarily mean a limitation on life. She tells the story of how her mother changed her view on language. While giving a well practiced speech, she realized that the speech sounded wrong. Having her mother in the audience gave her this feeling of doubt. “Recently, I was made keenly aware of the different Englishes I do use” (Tan 35). Throughout Tan’s life she’s had to overcome several difficulties that her mother’s “limited English” have brought upon her. She would take on her mother’s responsibilities of communicating with other people. Her mother’s language dependency on Tan made her feel embarrassed. Most Asian people were advised to go into engineering because of their improper English. Tan felt this label was placed on her as well. As she grew up she saw her people’s stereotypes as a reason to try for something deemed unreachable. “Fortunately, I happen to be rebellious in nature and enjoy the challenge of disproving assumptions made about me” (Tan 39). She became an English major her first year of college and started writing fiction in 1985. Tan conquered an assumption put on her by others and even herself. Tan’s article appealed to emotions and has logic because she shared her story and backed it up with how people treated her and her mother. She showed boldness by writing her article and giving her courage to others. Jimmy Santiago Baca wrote “Coming into Language” to send a message of encouragement to people who are facing illiteracy and are seeing it as a dead end.

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