The first barrier that seems to make life difficult for these women and in some cases, their spouses, is the language difference. Many of the daughters have a very slim grasp on the Chinese dialect of their mothers and in turn, some of the mothers struggle with English. In the case of the St.Clair family, the group is further splintered because Clifford, the husband of Ying-ying and father of Lena, has never learned fluent Chinese and Ying-ying has never learned fluent English, so the breakdown in communication starts with the parents and moves onto the children. When the mothers and daughters are able to communicate and make an attempt at finding common ground, their attempts are derailed by a lack of English words to substitute the meaning of Chinese words. Some of the phrases or lessons told by the mothers lose their meaning in a way because there is no English word that means the same as what they are trying to say in Chinese. An example of this is when June tries to understand the meaning of the Joy Luck Club 's name. There appears to be no satisfying English explanation for the sentiment behind the idea of Joy Luck. It is tragic to watch some of the relationships fracture because of this type of communication barrier.
The second barrier that hinders communication is their generation gap. The mothers were raised in different times with different expectations and they struggle to watch
Cited: hear, Walter. Generational Differences and the Diaspora in The Joy Luck Club. Critique. 34.3 (1993, Spring) 193-199. Retrieved on June 3, 2008Brooklyn College. Amy Tan, The Joy Luck Club: High Context Cultures and Low Context Cultures. Monday, December 13, 2004. Retrieved on June 4, 2008 from www.academic.brookleyn.cuny.edu