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Language in “Mother Tongue” Article by Amy Tan

In the modern world the meaning of the term “state line” becomes more and more eroded. The rapid growth of different means of transport brought any place on the globe within the reach. Men took themselves of their homes and the migration of peoples started. The reasons are absolutely different, but the result is obvious. The society of any country obtains more and more international character. Under such circumstances, the question of mutual understanding steps forward. The article Mother Tongue by Amy Tan also touches this problem. The author shares with us some of her thoughts about the peculiarities of her mothers English, the way it influences her and her mothers life, and discuss the usage of the terms like “broken” or “limited” English. The terms are quite offensive as the language represents the way you percept the world and on the contrary – you percept the world through the prism of your mother language.

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The author starts the article with her remarks about the difference in the use of language. The way she speaks is determined by different factors – the interlocutor, surroundings etc. The background for her story is the discussion of her mothers language. Being an immigrant from China, she uses English, which could be called “broken” or “fractured”. Her speech is full of grammar mistakes and hard to conceive, the author underlines that only 50% of her words could be understood by her friends (Tan par. 6.). This is one of the main problems of the article. The author wants to show us the deceptive impression and preconceived attitude as a result of the misunderstanding between the speaker and the interlocutor. Being a clever woman, Mrs. Tan was treated like a feeble-minded person. To prove that fact the author provides the case in the hospital as a good example. Her mothers wrong speech could not persuade the medical stuff of the hospital to help in her case, while her own interference changed the situation for the better. Though not directly, but the author condemns the practice of judging about peoples education level only by the way he or she speaks.

Another issue, the author wants to discuss, is the influence of the language, spoken in the family, on the childs development and on the formation of her own language. Illustrating it on her own example, Amy Tan outlines the difficulties in studying English, occurring on her way. Corresponding to the stereotypes, she was good at Math and exact sciences, while floundering in the language. It was quite difficult for her to build the right associative array, as she perceived the world through the prism of her “family” English, which was formed under the great influence of China culture. She also outlines the way she managed to master the language and her own peculiarities of writing.

Having experienced the great number of different “languages”, and rejecting the practice of using the term “broken”, the author decides to use all of them in her books, underlining the mentality and the peculiarities of world perception of the language speaker, creating livelier atmosphere. Having started with the difficult and complicated language, she understood that the main idea is to be understood by your audience and transfer your thoughts and images with the help of clear language. Using the witty pun in the title of the article she underlines the great importance of your mother language and the influence it has on your life.

Works Cited

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

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StudyCorgi. (2021, December 26). Language in “Mother Tongue” Article by Amy Tan.

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"Language in “Mother Tongue” Article by Amy Tan." StudyCorgi, 26 Dec. 2021,

1. StudyCorgi. "Language in “Mother Tongue” Article by Amy Tan." December 26, 2021.


StudyCorgi. "Language in “Mother Tongue” Article by Amy Tan." December 26, 2021.


StudyCorgi. 2021. "Language in “Mother Tongue” Article by Amy Tan." December 26, 2021.


StudyCorgi. (2021) 'Language in “Mother Tongue” Article by Amy Tan'. 26 December.

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