Society often influences the identity of an individual through different factors, one of which is language. “The power of language can evoke an emotion, a visual image, a complex idea, or a simple truth” (FYR: 84). Language is used daily in our lives, and therefore plays a significant role in shaping our identity. The narrative “Mother Tongue” depicts the variations of the English language, and the nature of talk. Amy Tan also shares the story of her mother’s “broken” English and how this limited her perception of hers mother’s communication with others. Language can be developed both through environment, and one’s personal experiences.
The power of language is essential in the way we express and communicate with one another. We all grow up surrounded by different forms of English speaking, which is due to the atmosphere we are raised in. As denoted in the narrative Amy Tan says “But I do think that the language spoken in family, especially in immigrant families which is more insular, plays a large role in shaping the language of the child”. (FYR: 87) Coming from an immigrant family myself I can concur with the opinion of Amy Tan. My mother like that of Amy Tan speaks “broken” English and I too am so accustomed to it, I have no trouble understanding her.
However, all do not understand my mother’s language since it’s not the “proper” fluent English many people are familiar with. My mother is at disadvantage to obtain equal opportunities and services due to the language barrier society impose. My relationship with my mother at home perhaps adds to the difficulty she has when speaking English. Instead of helping my mother improve her English I become impatient and tell her “ mom forget it, you’re not pronouncing it right” and begin speaking to her in Spanish. Holding back from speaking English with my mother will not help her progress from her “broken” English and it is selfish of me to do so.
I want my mother to be able to progress so she can be able to defend herself from all the assumptions that surround being a middle class Hispanic woman. My mother has come a long way breaking down several barriers and I am sure language will be no exception. Perhaps, my mothers English will not be impeccable, but I admire her everything else she has excelled in. Therefore, I am not ashamed of my mother English because she embraces it in a way that is suitable and convenient to her. It is very difficult to speak only one form of English when your audience varies from time to time.
We have different ways when approaching family, friends, and professors, which depicts our commitment to diversity. If we all spoke the same way toward everyone it would take away from our identity. As Amy Tan share “I happen to be rebellious in nature and enjoy the challenge of disproving assumptions made about me”(FYR: 88). Her motivation allows us believe that breaking away from the norms soc to envision ourselves breaking away from the norms society This was a very motivating quote for me because it allows me see that breaking from the norms society has for you is achievable.
Our identity is shaped around qualities that make us feel accepted in society. Language is a daily tool used differently amongst one another in order to communicate. Our nature of talk characters the way we see, express, and make sense of the world. Language should not be an obstacle between one another’s communication; instead it should be an opportunity to learn about the diverse tongues in this world. Although all tongues are distinct from one another, it ultimately helps us embrace our true identities or as Amy Tans will refer to it our “mother tongue”.