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Mother Tongue Summary

By timikeyi Jan 31, 2012 441 Words
From Amy Tan’s “Mother Tongue”, it is evident that language has an effect on our lives. Language defines the type of person I am generally and it has had an effect on my choices as well as my lifestyle. Language has become my way of seeing life in a different perspective. In “Mother Tongue,” Amy Tan discusses the many ways in which the language that she was taught affected her life. I can definitely relate to Tan’s essay because I too come from a bilingual home. Like Amy Tan, I have intelligent immigrant parents and I am their main avenue of communication with people who don’t understand them. I believe the main idea of Tan’s “Mother Tongue” is to stress that just because someone cannot speak the English language to perfection does not in any way make him or her less intelligent than someone who is born in this country and understands and speaks English fluently. However, what makes us different is that it is rare to find two people who speak the exact same English. Although Tan and I both helped our parents and came from non-traditional homes, Tan came from a Chinese family while I come from a Nigerian family. We both had similar ideas about language playing a major role in our families, and it was also a big challenge for both of us while we were raised by immigrant parents who spoke “limited English”. Indeed, just as language can be the glue that binds individuals into a community, language is a double-edged sword that also bears the power to alienate an individual from a community. Not only can language articulate a simple truth, one's command of it demonstrates a simple truth: without language, one is voiceless, with imperfect language, one is seen as imperfect, and with standard language, one is superior, at least from the perspectives of those who possess the standard command of language. Tan also examines this relationship of language to acceptance in a dominant community in “ Mother Tongue”. Language is many things: the arrangement of words in a particular order, uttered in a certain way, denoting a certain meaning; it is a political instrument, which evokes images and motion. Certainly, all of this is a description of the purpose and function of language. But as its most fundamental, language is quite simply the expression of self and the ability to share that expression with others. The learning of one's mother tongue will provide an individual the right to study their culture and will also preserve family bonds and lessen cultural conflicts between generations.

Timikeyi Egbuson.

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