“Mother Tongue” by Amy Tan, Analysis

“Mother Tongue” by Amy Tan

In her critical essay “Mother Tongue,” Amy Tan expresses the variances of how different linguistic identities can clearly impact the overall life of people of different cultural backgrounds. Tan compares the speaking style that she was taught by her mother and says it was different from that learned from teachers and classmates at school. In this essay, Tan wants to emphasize that there is no clearly right speaking style, and people should respect representatives of other cultural backgrounds, no matter if their speech is different from the one accepted by the community.

In her essay, Amy Tan often uses the words “broken,” “fractured,” “limited,” etc. They add the negative acceptance of variations of English she has to face in her daily living experience. Indeed, as a simple Chinese child, she had nothing more to accept but variances in the community. Anyway, Amy expects that these variances should not be taken as deviances, but only as driving benefits of cultural diversity.

The work is written in simple and easy-to-understand English. Amy is aware that her writing style is acceptable by the standard norms of grammar, syntax, punctuation, and orthography. To some extent, she uses numerous colloquial words and phrases that serve the goal to highlight her experiences in daily life routine. Overall, the writing style presented by Amy Tan is interesting and captivating: she grants readers an opportunity to compare the life of immigrants with the life of ordinary residents who rarely have problems in communication.

Amy Tan presents an alternative opinion of how to deal with daily life troubles that community adds to the communication of people. In most cases, the greatest problem is a set of prejudices against deviances to the speech norm. We are all people who should respect differences and add them into the frames of functionality. No matter where we meet representatives of other cultural backgrounds, we have to respect their rights and chances to form a unique “linguistic identity.”

Amy Tan offers the term “linguistic identity,” in comparison to gender, national, ethnic identity. The author of the essay is aware that it is significant to have a unique speaking style that highlights the most important correlates of the ordinary living being. For Amy, her “mother tongue” matters much, because her mother was speaking differently, and it influenced her sensitivity of home. For her, “linguistic identity” starts right from her birth when she did not know anything about the “correct” grammar of English, but anyway she received the sense of home, transferred to her by her mom. It is for any person who speaks a unique style that brings comfort to communication based on understandability. It is the most important feature of intercultural communication that makes the surrounding atmosphere culturally appropriate.

How to reach the acceptance of the unique “linguistic identity” in the world of prejudices? Amy Tan supports the position that people in the world have to respect variances in the speaking style because any person brings forward the ideas of how to deal with communication problems. In many cases, these issues are relevant to communication barriers that make it hard for people to understand one another. However, in any case, it is common to respect even these variations, so that to accept any person from a different culture with care. Amy Tan highlights the common term “broken English” as the one that is not acceptable in relevance to the people of different culture. It matters much, specifically in the context of disrespect, as if “brokenness” is “abnormality.” Amy Tan is convinced that people have to use this term with more care, so that not to bring harm to communication. Of course, people who have deviances in communication should take more care in relation to “tailoring up” their speech habit. However, on the other hand, they should not have to forget their “mother tongue” that makes up their daily life in the colors of home, friendship, and closeness.

In order to take away the language barrier, people just have to make the first step towards enhancing the mechanisms of communication. The facilitation of it is possible not rather using the correct grammar rules, but by adding the atmosphere of comfort and sense of friendliness. The main idea of Tan’s essay is understandable: people have to respect “linguistic identity” before national, gender and ethnic so that to overcome language barriers. At schools and colleges, we’ve got to have more respect in relevance to different cultural backgrounds. Praising the diversity is essential in regards to productive intercultural communication.