Analysis Of Mother Tongue By Amy Tan

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Language as a combination of single words and different ideas affects us everyday in life. In the essay “Mother tongue” by Amy Tan, the author describes how her mother’s English influences her in her career and life that the “mother tongue” does not limit her as a writer, but shaped her and her perception on life instead. And her attitude to her mother’s English changes from the initial embarrassment to the final appreciation. Tan’s attitude towards her mother’s English begins with embarrassment and humiliation. Growing up in an immigrant family which speaks imperfect English, Tan witnesses many discriminations that her mother has encountered in department stores or at banks, those experiences help to shape Tan’s opinion to her mother’s English. For example, Tan states that “[she] was ashamed of [her mother’s] English. [She] believed that [her mother’s] English reflected the quality of what [her] mother had to say” (508). In young Amy’s opinion, her mother’s expressions and thoughts are broken and imperfect like the way she speaks, and she believes that linguistic expression is linked to a person’s intelligence. As a result, she was ashamed of her mother in public because of her fractured English. Besides, Tan recalls another incident of her pretending to be her mother to communicate to a stockbroker. Tan’s mother was using broken English to give Tan instructions on how to talk on the phone. She describes that her mother said, “‘ So mad he lied to me, losing me money’” ( Tan 508). The author uses dialogues as evidence to show the audience the way her mother speaks English: influent and fractured. Tan has to help her mother to communicate with people only as a teenager due to her mother’s poor English skills. Tan informs the audience that she was “ sitting there red-faced and quiet” (508) when she and her mother finally met the stockbroker in person. She uses the word “astonished” to describe the stockbroker when he found the truth that the author wasn't the real Mrs. Tan. Young Amy was apparently embarrassed when she was forced to speak as an adult to the stockbroker and deal with different problems beyond her age, and she develops a negative impression on the mother’s tongue. Even though the author

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