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Mother Tongue by Amy Tan Essay


Summary

In her essay ‘Mother Tongue’, Amy Tan tries to use her personal experience to describe the importance of language in a society. In this analysis, the author compares perfect English language with ‘broken language’.

Using English as an example, the author attempts to explain how language is important in communications. She says “…language is an essential key in enabling people to understand the definition of their identities”. In addition, the author says that she realized that language allows or authorizes individuals to participate effectively as members of a society.

It is worth noting that Amy Tan is fond of language. For instance, she says that she has written a number of books in English and Chinese. However, she admits that she has never been eloquent or rhetoric when her mother is present. This is the main argument the author has put forward by demonstrating the importance of language in her life. In addition, she argues that communication is difficult without a good language.

In actual sense, this essay is chiefly an analysis of personal views and perceptions of language. The author attempts to describe how language should be used and how people tend to use it in their day-to-day communication. She compares “standard English language” and “broken English language”. To develop her argument, the author has set the essay in the form of a memoir. For instance, she compares her oral use of language with her written language.

Tan informs her readers that the presence of her mother in one of her lecturers made her notice some differences between her oral and written language.

At this point in life, the author realized that she was not using the same language she had been using when communicating with her mother. Instead, she realized that she has been using “broken English” when communicating with her. Therefore, she started reflecting on her childhood and the role that the mother played in helping her shape her language and communication.

Reflection

From this essay, one notices the manner in which Tan attempts to present her argument. It is evident that Tan is attempting to demonstrate how learning English has an impact in her and her life. The author analyzes her childhood experience. From her analysis, it is evident that circumstances frequently forced her to translate Chinese into English when communicating with other people at school or in her neighbourhood.

She attempts to argue that it is due to her difficulties in communicating in the two languages that drove her to become a writer. It is also clear that her life as a child was difficult because she was supposed to use Chinese at home, but change to English when at school or when with her peers. Her main ideas are good examples of the real life experience in American communities, especially where language barriers are evident.

Her use of personal experience is an important literal technique because it provides some sense of evidence and reality (Tan 1). In fact, the supporting content, which is particularly drawn from her life as a Chinese child growing up and relating with English children and teachers, provides some evidence that her narrative is convincing.

In addition, it is also effective in presenting her ideas. For instance, she says, “I am not an English scholar. I cannot give you anything beyond my personal points of view…” (Tan 1). This statement makes the opening sentence in the essay.

It seems to make the readers realize that the author will present her personal observations and experience. As such, the reader develops some interest in what the author has experienced in her life and what such experience could affect them. Secondly, Tan has presented her ideas that are based on common issues that everyone experiences or observes in nature, especially where immigrants are trying to fit into a new social environment defined by language barriers.

I tend to agree with Amy Tan for a number of reasons. First, I have seen people going through the same processes when trying to fit into new communities. Their children normally face the pressure of learning and using two languages- the “mother tongue” and the language used in the new society (Tan 3). This issue is good but challenging. It provides children with an ability to learn and apply two or more languages at a time.

In fact, it is worth noting that Amy Tan is presenting her ideas at a time when the issue of cultural diversity is common in the United States. America is a home to a large number of immigrants from all over the world. Therefore, the U.S. has become a culturally diverse society due to the presence of people from different ethnic backgrounds.

In fact, the issue of Standard English versus “Broken English” is a contemporary issue, especially in schools, public places and neighbourhoods. Although people must communicate, language barrier is always a problem in most cases. Therefore, the argument by the author contributes to the issue of language barrier, which is a current topic of debate in America.

Works Cited

Tan, Amy. Mother tongue. PDF file. Web.

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IvyPanda. (2019, June 21). Mother Tongue by Amy Tan. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/mother-tongue/

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"Mother Tongue by Amy Tan." IvyPanda, 21 June 2019, ivypanda.com/essays/mother-tongue/.

1. IvyPanda. "Mother Tongue by Amy Tan." June 21, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/mother-tongue/.


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IvyPanda. "Mother Tongue by Amy Tan." June 21, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/mother-tongue/.

References

IvyPanda. 2019. "Mother Tongue by Amy Tan." June 21, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/mother-tongue/.

References

IvyPanda. (2019) 'Mother Tongue by Amy Tan'. 21 June.

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