“Mother Tongue” Analysis
Many children of immigrants find themselves perceiving the language of the land they live in with the language of their parents. Amy Tan writes about the problems she and many other immigrants have with speaking English by displaying her own struggles. She points out struggles her mother faced because she had “broken” English. Along with the struggles immigrants and their children face with English examinations and the cause for an inclination towards math and science for Asian-Americans students. Tan states that the English her mom spoke with her, even though it had caused embarrassment at one point, was the one with which she perceived the world.
Tan starts out the essay by stating that she is not a scholar but a writer, and therefore can only give her personal opinion. This shows the reader that she will be giving her personal story not an objective view of the problem. She then starts to explain to the reader the many Englishes she used in her life and how many people saw the English her mother used as “broken.” Tan describes how many people do not understand her mother clearly but how to Tan her mother’s “…English is perfectly clear, perfectly natural” (233). After explaining that people find her mother’s English to be limited she states that she cringes at that description because it seems as if people perceive the speaker of the broken English in a limited way. She supports this claim with her personal experience of when she used to be embarrassed of her mother and how she “… believed that her English reflected the quality of what she had to say” (234). She says that she believed this because this is what many other people believed. But she provides proof that contradicts the fact that her mother’s imperfect English represented imperfect thought and understanding when she lists the heavy reading material her mother understands. Tan is here able to display the importance of someone’s mother tongue on his or her life.