Mother Tongue Term Paper

Download this Term Paper in word format (.doc)

Note: Sample below may appear distorted but all corresponding word document files contain proper formatting

Excerpt from Term Paper:

Mother Tongue, by Amy Tan [...] how the author uses rhetorical strategies to make her argument, while critiquing cultural standards. Amy Tan writes of the different forms of English she uses in her life, while illustrating the myriad ways that people express themselves depending on their audience and their needs. Everyone uses different phrases and expressions depending on their surroundings and their goals. Tan's essay applies to all of us, and because of this, it is easier to read and easier to apply to everyday and classroom situations.

Throughout Amy Tan's essay, she compares the English she uses everyday, to the English she uses with family and close friends. She uses the English she has learned as a tool to express the stilted English that makes up her cultural memories and the words of her mother. She writes, "But to me, my mother's English is perfectly clear, perfectly natural. It's my mother tongue. Her language, as I hear it, is vivid, direct, full of observation and imagery. That was the language that helped shape the way I saw things, expressed things, made sense of the world" (Tan). Therefore, some of Tan's earliest memories include memories of her mother's stilted English, which is both comforting and cultural to her. She knows her mother's education and ideas are not stilted, but also recognizes that her limited way of speaking might make her appear "limited" or less than perfect to other listeners. She notes, "I've heard other terms used, 'limited English,' for example. But they seem just as bad, as if everything is limited, including people's perceptions of the limited English speaker" (Tan). Tan recognizes the way people speak may categorize them for listeners, and yet that categorization could often not be further from the truth. How a person speaks is as much a part of their cultural upbringing as it is about formalized and written language, as Tan's experience clearly indicates. Her culture is interwoven with her language, and so, she has many different options open to her to communicate, and her style depends just as much on her audience as her education and understanding of the language. In fact, Tan notes, "Sociologists and linguists probably will tell you that a person's developing language skills are more influenced by peers. But I do think that the language spoken in the family, especially in immigrant families which are more insular, plays a large role in shaping the language of the child" (Tan). Families play an important part in the development of their children, and language is an important part of that development. Tan's embarrassment about her mother's English is just one part of the culture that shaped her as she grew up. To combat her embarrassment, she used English as a tool to create an astonishing career for herself. Thus, Tan used the language of her youth to form her future.

Tan's essay also clearly indicates just how people use language, and how English is used quite differently in differing situations. In Tan's essay, she uses one, comfortable and broken form of English with her mother and her husband, and much more formal, conventional English in her writing and speaking engagements. Most people do the same thing, whether they are aware of it or not. For example, teenagers may use slang and street language with their friends, while using quite different language in the classroom or with their parents. Scientists may use technical jargon and scientific shortcuts with their colleagues, while using less formal language with their families and friends. There are differing levels of language and language usage in just about everything people do in their lives, and so, one form of language can never serve all the different uses people have for the spoken and written word. Much of this difference is based on culture, as well as education. Tan's experience clearly indicates that culture and ethnicity creates barriers between people, and creates misunderstandings regarding a person's intelligence, social status, and even ability to learn. Tan's essay discusses the difficulties Asian-American children have in learning the varied concepts of English, and contends this may be why so many Asian-American children enter careers like engineering and science. She writes, "[...] Asian students, as a whole, always do significantly better on math achievement…[continue]

Cite This Term Paper:

"Mother Tongue" (2004, July 09) Retrieved December 7, 2016, from http://www.paperdue.com/essay/mother-tongue-174493

"Mother Tongue" 09 July 2004. Web.7 December. 2016. <http://www.paperdue.com/essay/mother-tongue-174493>

"Mother Tongue", 09 July 2004, Accessed.7 December. 2016, http://www.paperdue.com/essay/mother-tongue-174493

Other Documents Pertaining To This Topic

  • Mother Tongue and Newman Those Who Immigrate

    Mother Tongue and Newman Those who immigrate into the United States from other countries are encouraged to adapt to the culture of the majority population, namely white males of European descent. Language is the component of culture which is first targeted by those who try to force assimilation. When a person comes to the United States, they will feel compelled to learn English and be able to read and write in

  • Mother Tongue Amy Tan Mother

    When she began writing, she chose to envision her mother as the reader because that was how she could capture the real beauty of language in its various forms: "I wanted to capture what language ability tests can never reveal: her intent, her passion, her imagery, the rhythms of her speech and the nature of her thoughts." Amy Tan's essay is definitely an effective and powerful statement not only on

  • Mother Tongue Rhetorical Techniques in Amy Tan s

    Mother Tongue Rhetorical Techniques in Amy Tan's "Mother Tongue" As anyone who has ever been in an argument can tell you, what you say is often far less important than how you say it. Even in other less-aggressive circumstances, perception is generally far more important than substance -- this is certainly the case when it comes to politics, and often the case in more personal situations and relationships. When it comes to

  • Utopia Mother Tongue Why America

    (Although Hispanic voters, demographically, may seem to be aligned with the Democratic Party on class issues, on social issues they tend to be conservative and have been eagerly courted by the Republican Party in many states). Passing a mandatory English law would be a validation of racism against Hispanics, and even encourage discrimination in the name of anti-immigration sentiment. "Romanticism exalted language, made it mystical, sublime -- a bond of

  • Tame a Wild Tongue Language and Identity

    Tame a Wild Tongue Language and Identity in Anzaldua How to Tame a Wild Tongue How to Tame a Wild Tongue is a fascinating internal expose of the evolution and development of language among immigrants of Spanish linguistic heritage. Gloria Anzaldua recognizes herself as a "blended" individual who speaks and contributes to a myriad of native and blended languages that are all varied and regionally expressive of both native Mexican and

  • Anzaldua Like Our Genes Our Native Tongues

    Anzaldua Like our genes, our native tongues are both unique and passed down from generation to generation. Native tongues are integral and inescapable parts of our personal and collective identity, like skin color or gender. Therefore, language can be a stigma, an indicator or race, ethnicity, and culture. In the book Borderlands: La Frontera, Gloria Anzaldua explores expressions of Chicano culture in America through an analysis of the language she calls

  • Amy Tan Mother Daughter Conflict and

    For Amy Tan, however, attempting, for her parents' sake, to become simultaneously Chinese and American, without compromising either culture, or herself, was a tricky balancing act. As E.D. Huntley adds: Amy Tan spent her childhood years attempting to understand, as well as to come to terms with and to reconcile, the contradictions between her ethnicity and the dominant Western culture in which she was being raised and educated. She lived the


Read Full Term Paper
Copyright 2016 . All Rights Reserved