Amy Tan - Mother Tongue

Topics: Language, Speech, English language Pages: 3 (1016 words) Published: April 23, 2013
English 101
Mother Tongue
Amy Tan makes a valid point about the use of different Englishes that are spoken in different places and to certain people. What one says may sometimes vary based on the person, situation, or event as well. How one speaks and what they pick up on happens in the home and other people see them differently based on the way they speak. Different languages become difficult to translate as well because there isn’t always a similar word in the translating language. Many people can relate to this story in the aspect that everyone has their own way of speaking and others’ make them feel inferior with their speech. Some people may have difficulty saying certain words and those who speak well may downsize the verbally handicapped. This is a great essay that relates well to this day and time.

Tan relates to her own experiences to compare how people think and to how society sees them. She believed her mother to be illiterate because she spoke improper or broken English and other people looked down on her for it. She was laughed at and often times not taken seriously because, being an immigrant with a strong Asian background, her English wasn’t as proper as others. Amy Tan grew up taking calls for her mother and impersonating her on the phone so her mother did not sound so illiterate while trying to communicate with superiors or people who owed her money. This strategy was soon found out however, when Mrs. Tan had to speak to these people in person. Amy believed, “her [mother’s] English reflected the quality of what she had to say. That is, because she expressed them imperfectly her thoughts were imperfect… People in department stores, at banks, and at restaurants did not take her seriously, did not give her good service, pretend not to understand her, or even acted as if they did not hear her.” (142) Society has the need to be perfect and if someone speaks imperfectly, then they are often treated unfairly.

Languages spoken in the home and...
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