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Analysis Essay: Mother Tongue by Amy Tan Essay


Over time, language has played a fundamental role in various societies across the globe. From enhancing simple things like general communication to creating a viable environment for social, economic, political and economic growth, language and literature have become very crucial tools in the growth of human life through constant progress. It is based on these reasons that some important aspects of language will be analyzed in this paper.

In essence, this paper seeks to analyze the essay Mother Tongue by Amy Tan, in which various aspects of language and rhetorical evaluation are detailed. It is important to note that Amy Tan not only uses the article to give us an insight into her world of writing and the continuous commitments she made to better her mastery of the English language, but she also expresses different rhetorical values and emotional aspects of her mother tongue that greatly helped in advancing her expertise in English and literature. It is upon these features of her language learning that the rhetorical evaluation, in this paper, will be done.

Topic Statement: An individual’s mother tongue contributes greatly to the advancement of one’s expertise and mastery of language and literature.

Thesis Statement: Even though there are many aspects and characteristics of mother tongue that are important in facilitating skill in language and literature, the most important ones are the educational qualifications and academic expertise, mastery in the use of emotions to express ideas, and the appeal to shared values of the audience.

Brief Summary of the Essay

In brief, the essay is a literary account given by Amy Tan about her life and how she gradually learned various aspects of the English language. Some of these issues include the differences between her “professional” English (the English she spoke at official forums like lectures or when writing) and her “intimate” English (the English she spoke at home with family and friends), the language and literature challenges brought by her mother tongue (Chinese) in speaking good English, and how we should generally strive to use simple English (or any language, for that matter) that is easy to understand by both native and non-native English speakers.

In expressing these important facts, ideas, notions and opinions, Amy Tan personalizes her talk by using her literature audience, her mother and her husband as examples of her mother tongue influence on her English.

These personal accounts of her life and the people close to her greatly help in passing the intended message to the readers since many people, especially audiences that use English as a second language, can easily relate to her personal experiences.

Analysis of Rhetorical Strategies

Is the author qualified?

Considering the fact that Amy Tan is not a native English speaker, she has strived to master the English language to the point that she earns a living out of her writings like the Joy Luck Club; it is evidently clear that she is indeed highly qualified as a good English writer and speaker.

In addition, Amy Tan’s good qualifications are demonstrated by the fact that she has been able to give over half a dozen talks to different groups of people on how to improve on their English. Furthermore, Amy is not a professional, she would have not been able to give these many lectures in an efficient way.

Finally, Amy Tan’s qualification and trustworthiness as an effective English communicator are made clear when her mother, who has a “limited” skills in English, is able to read Amy’s book until she gives the verdict “so easy to read”.

Does the author appeal to the shared values of her audience?

To a great extent, Amy Tan appeals to the shared values of her targeted audience, people whose English speaking or writing skills are somewhat influenced by their mother tongue. This literary appeal is, essentially, the reason Amy’s mother is able to read her book in an easy way.

Again, despite the influence of her Chinese mother tongue, Amy Tan still manages to master the English language and gives lectures to a professional audience while ensuring that she follows all the necessary English speaking skills principles.

As we move towards the end of her essay, Amy embraces the need to find a way of communicating and appealing specifically to audiences like her mother who needed simple English, the English that she grew up with. Being able to appeal to the values of both complex and simple English audiences is undoubtedly a great literary skill.

However, it is worth stating that there are some sections of the essay where Amy admits that her initial writings were majorly based on her life experiences and her environment. In as much as this may be viewed as a good thing, the writings do not entirely represent the happenings in other places that people struggle with the influence of mother tongue on their English. For example, the family routines, while she was growing up or the “judgment” calls she made when faced with tricky English tests, are not the same for all non-native English speakers.

Does the author use emotions effectively?

Amy Tan’s many adventures and experiences as she strived to learn English evoke a lot of feelings. For example, when she felt mad and rebellious when her mother did something that she thought was not good for her learning. On the other hand, she praises her mother and the influence of their mother tongue in shaping who she was as a writer.

There are also instances that Amy talks about how she felt about her writings and career progress as a writer. All these good and bad feelings clearly demonstrate her effectiveness as a speaker and writer on the use of emotions to make her readers feel or react to her work in a certain way.

Overall Evaluation of the Text’s Effectiveness

Through different language tools, personal experiences and literary expression of certain emotional issues, Amy Tan greatly communicates to her readers. Of course there are some instances in the essay that she overstates her experiences and opinions to the point of forgetting about her audiences and the need to be precise. Nonetheless, in overall, her essay can be said to be effective.


From the above analysis, it is evidently clear that a person’s qualifications and academic expertise, mastery in the use of emotions to express ideas, and the appeal to shared values of the targeted audience are key factors that greatly contribute towards the improvement or worsening of mother tongue’s influence on language mastery. For this reason, language learners should ensure that these aspects are keenly considered in their learning processes.

This Essay on Analysis Essay: Mother Tongue by Amy Tan was written and submitted by user Jagger Greer to help you with your own studies. You are free to use it for research and reference purposes in order to write your own paper; however, you must cite it accordingly.

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Greer, J. (2019, April 8). Analysis Essay: Mother Tongue by Amy Tan [Blog post]. Retrieved from

Work Cited

Greer, Jagger. "Analysis Essay: Mother Tongue by Amy Tan." IvyPanda, 8 Apr. 2019, Accessed 5 Dec. 2019.

1. Jagger Greer. "Analysis Essay: Mother Tongue by Amy Tan." IvyPanda (blog), April 8, 2019.


Greer, Jagger. "Analysis Essay: Mother Tongue by Amy Tan." IvyPanda (blog), April 8, 2019.


Greer, Jagger. 2019. "Analysis Essay: Mother Tongue by Amy Tan." IvyPanda (blog), April 8, 2019.


Greer, J. (2019) 'Analysis Essay: Mother Tongue by Amy Tan'. IvyPanda, 8 April. (Accessed: 5 December 2019).

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