The essay is chiefly about the writer's own rumination and judgment about how "broken English" compared to Standard English. Moreover it came to her sense that language not only "authorizes" individuals to participate as members of a designated community, it is also a essential key in enabling individuals to establish and define the dimensions of their identity. Though a lover of language and an erudite lover of language she is, she has never recognized this concept until she realized that she has never appeared eloquent and rhetoric in front of her mother.
She once again consciously aware of the "type" of language she used on daily and intimacy basis when she noted that her husband did not have a slightest reaction when she uttered a grammatically wrong phrase. Thinking about it, she knew it was because for over twenty years living together, that "wrong" kind of English has been used frequently in their conjugal life. And it came to her sense the presence of a different sort of language, the language of intimacy, the familial English.
To demonstrate this kind of family talk, Mrs. Tan quoted a story that her mother had told her. It was a very trivial story but the thing that worth looking at was her mother's grammar. The quoted parts were filled with grammatical mistakes and the text was quite confusing. Yet, her mother had better command in English than all that was ostensibly showed in her story. She could read very sophisticated and high level documents without much difficulty. However, some of Tan's friends confessed that her mother language was not very comprehensive because most of them could only get 50% or less what Tan's mother was trying to say. But to the writer's, her mother tongues was
as vivid, graphical, and comprehensive as ever as she confides that it was this language that she discovered the world.
No matter how she appreciated her mother tongue as a tool that had enabled her to...