Amy Tan's Mother Tongue Essay

635 words - 3 pages

Language is like a blooming flower in adversity – they are the most rare and beautiful of them all as it struggles to express itself. It blooms and flourishes in strength, awe, and passion as the riches of thought is imbibed from the seed and into a finished beauty. For others, a non-native person speaking in a language that they are not familiar with sprouts out like a weed – the way its thorns can puncture sympathy and comprehensibility. Amy Tan, however, addresses the nature of talk as being unique under its own conditions. In Tan's “Mother Tongue”, she discusses how her mother's incoherent language is “broken” and “limited” as compared to other native English speakers. When focusing on Amy Tan, she grows noticeably embarrassed with her mother's lack of acuteness in the language, which then influences Tan to “prove her mastery over the English language.” However, she soon learns from herself and -- most importantly ...view middle of the document...

This allows the reader to connect to Tan and her mother as she elicits closely related experiences from the reader. Furthermore, Tan continues to draw the reader's attention by her use of passive voice in her personal anecdotes, such as “I was giving a talk,” “She had heard me,” “I was saying things like,” and “I was walking down the street... and using the English I do use with her.” By using the passive voice, Tan hopes that the reader will establish a shared feeling with her and will be able to substitute themselves into her position. In other words, she also counters the belief that this specific lack of communication is bounded within only Asian immigrants and their families, but implies that this problem is noticeable in all cultural backgrounds and languages. This, however, does not cease Tan's love and admiration for her mother. Tan commemorates her mother's English as “being perfectly clear, perfectly natural” to Tan. Even though others will wince at her fragmented language, Tan's deferential tone for her mother debunks the the belief that a limited English speaker expresses imperfect thoughts because of her imperfect understanding of the language. Through words such as “vivid,” “direct,” “full of observation,” “imagery,” “passion,” and “nature of her thoughts,” Tan expresses the true nature of their language, or her mother's tongue. For better or for worst, Tan finally discloses to the reader that a language is not the final deciding factor of someone's intelligence or wisdom; in fact, the greatest of all complexities reside in the simplest simplicities. Overall, Tan's personal anecdotes and powerful command of the language helps her connect with the reader on this same issue. “Mother Tongue”, after all, not only helps readers connect to Amy Tan's embarrassment with her own mother, but, also, with other nonnative English speakers who are often misunderstood and condemned for their lack of mastery over any language.

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