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Englishes in “Mother Tongue” by Amy Tans

Of all people, a writer is, perhaps, the person that is expected to treat their language with most care and respect. However, the idea of using a language appropriately is rather loose, mostly because the very concept of correct use of the language is quite vague (Crossley et al. 100). In her essay “Mother Tongue,” Amy Tans points to the fact that the language does not exist in a bubble; instead, it is affected by a myriad of factors and shaped accordingly. The fact that the author recognizes the identified connection between sociocultural factors and the development of the language shows explicitly that she has entered a new stage of her development as a writer.

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Furthermore, the fact that the author has matured as a writer is seen in the way in which she sees the language. Particularly, English is no longer the Holy Grail of rules and standards that cannot possibly be touched by anyone (Tan 2). Quite the contrary, the narrator envisions it as a flexible phenomenon that is shaped by people and evolves accordingly (Saraceni 64). In other words, the narrator realizes that people shape and define the further evolution of the language. As a result, the author of the essay proves that she has grown enough to accept the responsibility that she as part and parcel of the society has regarding the evolution of the language (Shin 25).

It might seem that the author supports the use of informal English as opposed to formal and standard, yet the specified impression is only an illusion. Instead, the writer stresses the significance of the impact that external factors, including the presence of other cultures and languages, have on the development of English (Chambliss and Eglitis 61).

The author shows her personal and professional growth by admitting the significance of the impact that other cultures have on English, as well as recognizing the importance of a spoken language as the driving force behind the evolution of English. Since the writer is no longer embarrassed by the elements of what she would have called wrong English before in her and her mother’s speech, it can be assumed that she has embraced the idea of language development and change (Tan 2). The extrinsic factors that shape and alter English are just as important as official language standards since they contribute to the way in which people see it and use it in their everyday speech (Mooney and Evans 74).

By recognizing the fact that a language is a social phenomenon and is, therefore, affected by sociocultural changes, including the influence of other cultures, the emergence of new trends and tendencies, etc., the author of the narrative shows that she has grown as a writer and a member of the American community. Furthermore, the writer starts considering other opportunities for enhancing the impact that the Asian culture has on the English language by exploring the existing programs and learning opportunities. The fact that she no longer views her version of the English language as broken or wrong indicates that she has experienced a significant positive change and is ready to embrace her culture and legacy. As a result, the writer is willing to spur the process of the intercultural dialogue between the Asian community and the American one. The fact that deviations from the norm are no longer interpreted as wrong and not warranting existence proves that the narrator is ready to enter a new stage of personal and professional development.

Works Cited

Chambliss, ‎ William J., and Daina S. Eglitis. Discover Sociology. SAGE Publications, 2014.

Crossley, Michael, et al. Education in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2015.

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Mooney, Annabelle, and Betsy Evans. Language, Society and Power: An Introduction. Routledge, 2015.

Saraceni, Mario. World Englishes: A Critical Analysis. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2015.

Shin, Sarah J. Bilingualism in Schools and Society: Language, Identity, and Policy. 2nd ed. Routledge, 2018.

Tan, Amy. “Mother Tongue.”, n.d., Web.

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