Nikolas de Wit
8 October 2018
Mother Tongue Critical Analysis
Mother Tongue written by Amy Tan depicts the struggles she encountered growing up with her linguistically challenged mother. In the beginning of the memoir we are exposed to the concept of speaking “different englishes” and how Tan’s mother was viewed by others for speaking “broken” english.
In the memoir, Tan uses symbolism multiple times to compare what she hears to what others hear, for example her ability to use “proper english” represents her acceptance into american society, something her mother has not yet achieved. On the contrary when Tan speaks to her mother she uses “simple english”. While this isn’t completely accurate to how her mother speaks, it symbolizes the bond they have with each other. Tan even goes as far to say, that her husband started speaking this english as their “language of intimacy”.
Tan also uses different tones to convey her message effectively to the reader. For instance, Tan describes a memory with her mother when she was young, since her mother could not communicate effectively Tan was forced to speak for her. In one instance Tan needed to call a stockbroker, portraying the call as humorous, however, this was not always the case. Tan recalls a similar memory just five days prior, one that was far less humorous. Tan’s mother had gone to the hospital regarding a benign tumor, found in her brain on a previous checkup. She was denied proper explanation for her condition, due to her inability to communicate effectively with the doctors.
Lastly, Tan utilizes her personal experiences to show the reader her side of the situation. At first Tan viewed her mother’s english as limited and was ashamed, thinking that it reflected the quality of what her mother had to say. But looking back sees it as a turning point in her life, against all odds becoming a writer.
I think the main purpose of this article is to show people that there is no right type of english, and that english comes in many forms and therefore should be no prejudices.
Nikolas de Wit