Humanitarian / Literature Essay


Tan’s Mother Tongue Analysis

Mother Tongue is an essay written by an Asian-American writer called Amy Tan. “Tan's mother tongue” helps us to examine how the language we grow up with can have an impact on us throughout our lives. The key significance of the essay is to familiarize readers with the author’s clarification of differentiating broken English from Standard English.

In the essay, she writes about how she uses a different kind of English to converse with her mother because she grew up with her Chinese mother who spoke the kind of English that was difficult for most people to understand. Her essay, just like most of her works, was based on the relationships between mothers and daughters.

She examined how her mother's non-standard English affected her while she was young and how she overcame the disadvantages of growing up in a household that spoke using non-standard English.

Amy Tan is a writer from the United States. She was born on February 19, 1952. She uses her writings to survey the relationship mothers have with their daughters and what it means to be a part of the earliest generation of Asian Americans. Her first novel gained her popularity. The book, the Good Star Club, was published in the year 1989. She also wrote a book called The Kitchen God’s Wife.

In her essay, she wrote about how she used a more complicated and sophisticated English while talking to a group of people about her book, Joy Luck Club. It was the first time she was going to speak that way in the presence of her mother who was sitting at the back. That was when she realized that she had grown up in two different worlds which have impacted her writing and life. She found her voice as a writer as a result of the times she spent with her mother.

She is explicit in her quest yet she still finds time to ask questions as to what is regarded as an appropriate English. In her essay, she expressed how she didn’t think that proper English and grammar was an indication of intelligence.

Amy Tan spoke about how she was stuck between two worlds. She had to make use of a simpler kind of English that was not sophisticated for easier communication with her mother. She also had to use a more acceptable and formal English when speaking to other people. She tells us a story in her essay using her mother’s English to narrate it. The story is about a gangster who wanted her family to adopt him in China because they had more status. She used her mother’s English to narrate the story because she wanted readers to know how expressive the language is even though most readers might not be used to it.

Amy Tan’s Use of Rhetorical Devices

Amy Tan used a mixture of rhetorical devices to communicate her feelings and emotions through words. She used Oxymoron as one of the rhetorical devices to express how her mother’s English was embarrassing to her. She tells us an amusing story of how her mother demanded that she speak to a stockbroker on the phone. Mrs. Tan believed the stockbroker was trying to cheat her. Tan's embarrassment can be noticed in the exchange but later, her mother and young Amy stand before the surprised stockbroker. Tan narrates that her mother shouts at the stockbroker in flawless broken English.

She also makes use of inversion where she changes the situation and puts those situations in the right word order. She uses inversion which explains how two conflicting ideas exist together to make a point. This shows how her love and embarrassment coexist towards her mother. Her use of inversion signifies her feelings towards her mother, such feelings can be regarded as broken and impeccable at the same time.

Tan also made use of other rhetorical devices like logos, ethos, and pathos. The significance of adopting these rhetorical devices in her essay was to show to the reader that a person who was disadvantaged in speaking a language does not mean that such person will also face other restrictions and disadvantages in other aspects of life. This prompted her to change the situations in the usual word order.

The use of impersonation was quite obvious in 'Mother Tongue'. She explains in her writing that linguists and sociologists will, perhaps, tell you that a person's development of language skill is greatly affected by the peers; but that she does not think that the language that is spoken in a person's family will play a huge role in shaping the language of the person.

The author used impersonation to assess the concept of other people by giving credit to their peers. The use of the device also illustrated her knowledge and credibility in writing because she gave credit to their peers at almost every point.

She also utilized specific rhetorical questions in 'Mother Tongue', in respect to the difference in the performances of students. She provided the answer by illustrating in her writing that the English spoken in some other Asian-American students' home could also be described as limited or broken. Although she did not provide substantial evidence to support her claim, she used herself in her study as an example and this proves the reliability of the knowledge in her writing.

She adopted the use of rhetorical devices to express herself better and to catch the attention of her readers. She utilized oxymoron and anecdote to illustrate her embarrassment and guilt, but also her love towards her mother’s language.

Amy Tan expressed in her writing that the language of her childhood was her mother’s language. Thus, she finds it easy to understand her mother and she has no difficulty in conversing with her. Tan’s mother tongue analysis illustrates how she used her mother’s English to express herself, map out her viewsTan’s Mother Tongue Analysis, and also to have a better understanding of the world.

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