Amy Tan’s Mother Tongue Essay

1495 words - 6 pages

Paul Zheng

Amy Tan's Mother Tongue

This is for anyone who isn't born in a native English-speaking environment. Is English your second language? Do you speak "broken" or "fractured" English? Are you frustrated with people misunderstanding you all the time? Do you have a hard time expressing what you want to say, but can't find right words? This is a common problem for people who aren't born in the United States. People with limited English have a daily struggles with their work and social life, the only time they can find comfort is with their own family and friends who can understand them. Outside of family and friends, other people will think of and treat differently whose first language isn't English, because they speak differently from native English speakers do. How much you know and understand English will affect people's perception of you, your social life, and the limit of knowledge you can acquire.
Amy Tan is an Asian-American born in Oakland, California. Her mom, Daisy Tan who speaks the "broken" or "fractured" English, inspired a lot of her work. The book Mother Tongue is largely about the struggles of what her mom went through in her life using limited English she knows and the adversity she overcame. The book is also written in "broken" English in dedication to her mom.
Mother Tongue talks about the power of language: the way it can evoke an emotion, a visual image, and complex ideas or a simple truth. A lot of Amy Tan's works often contrasts the English spoken between Amy and her mom, the English she speak without her mom's presence. Amy Tan speaks the "broken" English with her mom because that's all she is able to understand. Amy makes a perfect transition from speaking unclear "broken" English to normal American way in her work and social life. Amy Tan believes that language can help shape the way people see things, express things, and make sense of the world. With "broken" English, people may not take you seriously, pretend not to understand you and sometimes even ignore you if you aren't speaking how other people traditionally speak English. Amy Tan also spoke about how people with a foreign background do better in subjects such as math where there is one precise answer to every question, as compared to English, where there are many choices and answers to go with a question. Amy Tan wrote this book mostly in "broken" English to give the effect of having a limited understanding of the English language.
People say that America becomes the so-called "melting pot," but, in reality, it resembles more of a salad bowl. There is still racism, prejudice, and stereotyping everywhere. While it has become better than before, some people still don't accept someone who is different from them in their appearance, lifestyle, or the way they speak. Amy Tan said that whenever her mom went to...

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