September 2, 2011
Florida Memorial University
Recently, in my College Writing II class, I had the opportunity to read, “Mother Tongue” by Amy Tan. I enjoyed reading the essay so much that I decided to write my own analysis. “Mother Tongue” is an essay based on the power of language and the will to communicate. However, the essay is not just about language itself, but also about the relationship between a mother, Mrs. Tan, and her daughter, Amy Tan, who moved to America for the possibility of getting a better life and living the American dream. Mrs. Tan encountered difficulties fitting in society because of her spoken “broken” English. “Mother Tongue” is also about changing but at the same time keeping your culture, heritage, and roots. In the essay, Amy talks about her experiences and feelings about the use of the English language. Without the use of Standard English, a person is known to be a foreigner and sometimes misjudged. Amy talks about how hurt and humiliated she felt seeing the negative reactions her mother got from others. Mrs. Tan got those reactions in many different places like restaurants, department stores and even banks. Nobody took Mrs. Tan seriously. They avoid her by pretending they couldn’t understand her, and sometimes they acted like they didn’t care. For example, Amy had to make phone calls to her mother’s business associates pretending she was her mother. Mrs. Tan was treated in such an impolite manner because she spoke a non-native different of English, referred to as “broken” English. At first, Amy felt embarrassed of her mother’s English and thought that it will influence her opportunities in life. However, Amy grew to understand and appreciate her mother’s English; she believed it was rich and interesting regardless of what society thought. Amy understood her mother’s tongue, and she thought that is all that’s matters to her. We may not be bilingual or multilingual, but don’t...