Mother tongue refers to the local language of a person. It is the dialect that an individual learns to speak when he or she is born. It is the dominant form of speech that a person has and may know or develop over time. Mother’s tongue is like an inborn feature that does not necessarily need one to attend language lessons to interact or speak.
The plot of the story is about how the author is trapped between two worlds. She communicates in simple English when she is around her mother, but changes to more formal English when she is out. The main character of the story is undoubtedly Amy Tan’s mother. Her peculiar English is a counterexample to Amy’s polished, competent English. The story focuses on themes of shame, education, and the characters’ existence in two different worlds. The purpose of “Mother Tongue” was to try to raise awareness of the importance of language and the influence it possesses on society. As a communication instrument, it may wield both positive and negative consequences for society. The story symbolically responds to the disparities between Chinese and American ideologies and conflicts.
The “Mother Tongue” reflects on how people are misguided in believing that English can be an indicator of intelligence. Amy freely lets the reader assess her mother’s lack of proper education. Being a Chinese woman who had a difficult time with the English language, Amy still feels that her mother used to express herself very well. The “Mother Tongue” deals with language identity issues; the author talks about her mother and her “broken English,” as well as Amy’s relationship with her mother. She begins by listing the various forms of communication, often in English, that her mother speaks. In life, Amy expresses how English was not her favorite subject and how her mother’s community needed to learn English as a second language.
In her expression, Amy utilizes some stylistic tools, and by using a parallel structure, she begins by implying, “I am not a scholar of English” (Tan). Nevertheless, though her mother’s English is minimal, Amy feels that the mother’s English is understandable. One would demand that the paper is biased and that English should be correct in its application. The fact is that Amy is justified in saying that there could be no right or wrong English.
Tan, Amy. “Mother Tongue”. Umsl.Edu, 2020, Web.