Language and Cultural Barriers in Amy Tan's "The Joy Luck Club"

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Communication is the heart and soul of our society. We communicate in everything we do from buying a cup of coffee to presenting a project at work or school. Since we express ourselves everyday having one primary language that is used in that particular region is very helpful by reducing and preventing language barriers to an extent. As we express ourselves daily we often use metaphors to explain ourselves. For those of us who are bilingual or trilingual some of these expressions are not correctly translated or they just simply cannot be translated. In Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club there is not only a language barrier but also cultural barrier between the mothers and daughters and the meaning of “Joy Luck”. I believe that although it might be hard, anything can be translated if not by words, but through actions and character.
To prove my opinion, the stories prove especially powerful in The Joy Luck Club because of the cultural and language barriers that stand between the storytellers, which often are the mothers, and the daughters. Due to the fact that the mothers grew up in China and all of their life lessons happened in a way that might not be considered “Normal” to their American-born daughters they found an alternative way to still convey the same message that they learned while growing up, just in a different way. They fear that speaking directly of the lessons they have learned wouldn’t understand the true underline meaning. The barriers that exist between the mothers and the daughters are often due to their inability to communicate with one another like the difficulty with translation when Jing-mei relates the story of her mother’s founding of the Joy Luck Club. After attempting to explain the significance of the club’s name, Jing-mei recognizes that the concept is not something that can be translated.
On the topic of translation, the barriers between the Chinese and the American cultures are made worse by imperfect translation of language. The mothers use storytelling to get around these barriers and communicate with their daughters. The stories are not just for fun but they are meant to teach the same lesson to their daughters that they...

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