Essay The Power of Language

Essay The Power of Language

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The American society is a melting pot of different cultures, race, and languages. Living in America does not mean that someone is a natural born American or a perfect English speaker. Many people who migrated to America face discrimination due to their inability to speak proper English. In her essay, “Mother Tongue,” author Amy Tan examines the various struggles she faces with her identity through language and the perspective American society has on Asian-American immigrants.
Throughout the essay, Tan studies the development of the different Englishes that she uses in different settings. When around her mother she utilizes broken English as the best way to communicate with her mother (621). When outside of her household, Tan speaks perfect English, but Tan’s different forms of Englishes cannot occur in Tan’s conversations simultaneously. Tan writes about memories from her childhood when she often translated for her mother, since her mother’s English was not the best. Tan expresses a tone of regret because she felt embarrassed by her mother’s “fractured” English. She often felt “red-faced and quiet” when her mother spoke imperfect English in public due to the responses she would receive, but now, she came realize the mistreatment of her mother by society. Due to her inability to speak proper English, Tan’s mother is frequently ignored and not respected by the people she encounters. Tan’s mother is an intelligent woman an often “reads the Forbes report, listens to Wall Street Week, converses daily with her stockbroker, [and] reads all Shirley MacLaine’s books with ease” (622) but, her only flaw remains her inability to speak proper English. Tan’s tone of regret highlights the mistreatment often received by Asian Americans.
Tan of...


... middle of paper ...


... tongue shaped the way she thinks and expresses herself.
Even though, Tan’s mother faces many injustices due to her inability to properly speak English, Tan realizes that those language barriers has made her who she is. Tan accomplishes her ultimate goal of being able to write stories that her mother will be able to read through the development of the various forms of English she uses. Although, we live in a country made up of different languages, many people do not fully accept people who uses improper English. The mistreatment of people who do not speak proper English such as Tan’s mother is prevalent in America. Not only is this mistreatment directed toward immigrants, but it is also directed toward their children.



Works Cited

Tan, Amy. “Mother Tongue.” Writing Analytically with Readings. Second ed. Boston:
Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2012. 621-625. Print.


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