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A Summary of Amy Tan s “Mother Tongue” Essay

In “Mother Tongue”, Tan writes about the awareness and discrimination about “broken English” compared to Standard English. In Tans essay she quotes her mothers’ speech to demonstrate her mothers “broken English”, it was a very trivial story but the thing that is worth looking at was her mother’s grammar. The quoted parts were filled with grammatical mistakes and the text was quite confusing. In fact, her mother had better command in English than all that was evidently showed in her story. She could read very sophisticated and high level documents without much difficulty.

In “Mother Tongue”, Tan mainly talks about her realization of the existence and effects of the “broken English” of her family. She takes her mother’s talk that is full of grammatical mistakes and conversation with the stockbroker as examples, which gives us an impression that her mother is not well educated. Yet the truth is, her mother grasps better in English than her speaking ability and can easily read high-level papers and documents. “Mother Tongue” reflects on the misleading illusion that language can represent one’s education level. Amy’s mother has intelligent thoughts and is just hard to express in understandable words when special situations occur.

“Mother Tongue” is a look into the way some people, look to language as a way as a sign of how educated you are. In views of Tans prompt she gives the readers the impression that her mother is an uneducated Chinese woman who does not comprehend the language. Nevertheless, this was never the effect Tan intended for readers to assume of her mother considering that Amy did not think her mother was ignorant or uneducated because her intelligent thoughts and answers were there. Her mother just could not relay her thoughts into understandable words like the time when talking to the stockbroker.

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