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Mother Tongue

The article “Mother tongue” by Amy Tan, a daughter of Chinese immigrants, writer with  a rebellious soul, magnificent imagination, and an irresistible desire for perfection and self-realization, is in the focus of this essay writing. The author’s personal observations and facts concerning different kinds of the English language she hears in her surroundings are described in the article. The author highlights that there are several “Englishes” which can be heard and applied in daily life of non-native American families. The low level of the English language used in immigrants’ families influences the way they are perceived in society greatly and leads to biases and limitations.

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A crucial aspect pointed by Tan is the issue of foreign students’ performance. She argues that the level of literacy plays a vital role in the child’s personality development, especially concerning families of immigrants. The author states that achievements of Asian American students are much better in exact sciences such as mathematics and engineering. Teachers, in particular, understand that parents in immigrant families speak “broken” English, and thus they focus their attention on the development of skills in exact sciences, in which there is no need to show profound knowledge of English.

Moreover, the author argues that even though her mother reads a lot of English press, her spoken language being without any grammatical basis is not understood by others. Tan puts emphasis on the fact that carrying out essential daily operations may have different outcomes depending on the kind of English used. When Tan talks to bank or store employees, she is highly respected because she confirms belonging to the well-educated world. At the same time, her mother with her poor English is not perceived seriously or even ignored. I agree with Tan’s main idea that there is bias against people whose English is simple or as Tan stated “broken.” I have witnessed similar cases of rights violation and disrespect to people who spoke illiterately. The author gave several examples of her mother’s rights violation in the conflict with the stockbroker and the right for quality medical services in hospital, which confirmed the fact of existing prejudice.

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The writer also speaks of the power of language; she describes the impact it has on emotions expression, the depth and accuracy of thoughts. Despite the examples of inequality based on the language barrier mentioned above, she emphasizes that she imagined her target reader for the book “The Joy Luck Club” speaking and behaving exactly like her mother. She was a woman whose limited English with all hidden depth of thought, passion and flexibility only Tan could understand. It is her “mother tongue” to which she is accustomed to from her childhood. The writer decided for herself that her book would be richer in a semantic context if all of the “Englishes” that she had heard were used. It is the language of the author’s communication with her mother; it is easy without sophisticated terms and complex sentences; her mother’s English, which is characterized by incomplete sentences and non-ideal speech; and a literary language which the writer uses while translating from Chinese.

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In conclusion, it should be mentioned that this essay analyzed the article devoted to personal experience and thoughts of Amy Tan. She was born in China, immigrated to America, and did not fall victim to stereotypes associated with the inability to achieve great success in the English language. Issues such as the existence of “broken” or limited English in families of immigrants, negative impact on the development of a personality, prejudice on the part of teachers trying to develop exact sciences skills in representatives of other nationalities are highlighted in the article. The most essential question is related to the specific perception of a person whose English language is at a very low level. They suffer from numerous problems caused by disrespect, a negative attitude, and negligence of representatives of the service sector, which proves their inability to have equal rights.

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