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”Mother Tongue” by Amy Tan

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  • Pages: 2
  • Word count: 433
  • Category: Language

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In the essay, “Mother Tongue,” Amy Tan informs the reader of the language barrier matters that she underwent as an Asian American. Various individuals are looked down upon because of their poor english language skills. Tan shared the experience of limitation, intimation, and the family talk that she had in her life. She feels bad for having a limitations, because she was Asian-American. Her mother speaks broken english, as if it lacked a certain wholeness and soundness. This also affected the way people perceived her mom. In addition, she feels ashamed of her, because of her poor english. Tan thought her mom was not that smart. She did not get good service from the department stores, banks, and at restaurants. Her mom was disrespected because of the way she speaks. Furthermore, people just pretended not to understand her mother. Her mother was disrespected by her stockbroker, and she was not getting good service from the hospital. Tan said, “When I was fifteen, she used to have me call people on the phone to pretend I was she” (64). Tan completely understands the way her mother spoke.

She spends a great deal of her time thinking about the power of language, and the way it can evoke an emotion. For Tan, she feels her mom’s english is clear and natural. Her mother’s language, as she hears it, is vivid or full of life. Furthermore, she can directly understand the way her mother speaks. That was the language that helped shape the way she saw things, expressed things, made sense of the world. Tan said, “My mother’s english is perfectly clear, perfectly natural. It’s my mother tongue” (64). Tan grew up using the english language. Also, growing up speaking english affected her grades in english. Moreover, it shapes her language skills in english. She spoke it with her family. In addition, she also spoke it with her husband.

In the twenty years they were together, she often used the same english with him, and sometimes he even used it with her. Tan said, “We were talking about the price of new and used furniture and I heard myself saying this: ‘Not waste money that way.’ My husband was with us as well, and he didn’t notice any switch in my English” (63). Amy Tan discusses the language barrier that exists for an Asian-American. Many people are looked down upon because of their lack of command of the english language. Tan gives some examples of a particular instance of humiliation, stereotyping and the way she communicates with her family in her life.

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