Two Responses to Amy Tan’s “Mother Tongue”

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English variants exist and affect interpersonal communication throughout the country. Although English is the dominant language in America, not all citizens speak it in the same way. These variations affect the lives of immigrants and their children. One example is a Chinese mother’s inability to express herself in “perfect” English, speaking instead in “broken” English. In fact, children of immigrants must communicate for their parents on occasion, making sure that important information is given and received. “Imperfect” English is common among immigrant families, and the negative view of their language skills affects their children. Consequently, most immigrants, especially Asian Americans, struggle in English classes and score poorly in language ability tests. Their broken English is seen as a deficit, and they are viewed as unintelligent. Even through an immigrant‘s English may not be easily understood, and immigrants may struggle to understand complex writing, their intelligence and humanity should not be discounted.

A Summary of the Effects of Mother Tongue on English by Amy Tan English variants exist and affect how people in the country communicate. Although English is the dominant language in the country, not all citizens speak it in the same way. An example is given of a mother of Chinese origin who does not express herself in perfect English. Her form of English can be described as broken. Her daughter has to speak to her in a simple form of English to make sure she understands. Imperfect English is common among immigrant families and is also passed to children. Consequently, most immigrants, especially Asian- Americans, score poorly in language ability tests and are forced to major in mathematics and the sciences. Moreover, most writers use a complex form of English, which the immigrants may notclearly understand.

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Thus, language ability tests and English writers should incorporate the needs of people who speak nonconventional forms of English. Furthermore, Tan’s essay sheds light on the biases and prejudices that exist within society based on language proficiency. She shares instances where her mother’s language limitations led to dismissive treatment and how these experiences shaped her own perception of herself and her mother. This prompts us to reflect on our own judgments and biases towards individuals who may speak English as a second language or struggle with language proficiency.

One response to Tan’s essay is the realization of the significance of language in shaping our identities. Language is not merely a tool for communication but a vessel that carries culture, history, and personal experiences. Tan’s exploration of her mother’s “broken” English and its impact on their interactions reveals the intimate connection between language and self-expression. Tan’s essay also serves as a reminder of the importance of empathy and understanding in communication. She highlights the challenges faced by individuals who are marginalized due to their language abilities and emphasizes the need for patience and open-mindedness when engaging with others who may speak differently. In conclusion, Amy Tan’s “Mother Tongue” offers valuable insights into the complexities of language, identity, and communication. It prompts us to reevaluate our perspectives, challenge biases, and cultivate empathy towards those who may have different linguistic backgrounds.

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Two Responses to Amy Tan’s “Mother Tongue”. (2023, May 19). Retrieved from

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