The purpose of Amy Tan’s essay
The purpose of Amy Tan’s essay, “Mother Tongue,” is to show how difficult it can be if an individual is raised by a parent who speaks “limited English”. Amy’s mother was an important part of her life, and she has a major influence over Tan’s writing style. Being raised in a home with “broken” or “fractured” English has taught Tan that ones’ insight of the world is utterly based on the language spoken at home. The language spoken in the family plays a major role in forming the language of a child and there fore can cause upcoming challenges when brought to the public
Tans mother understood English well, but the English she spoke was “broken.” If you didn’t grow up in the same house hold with Amy and her mom, you would not be able to understand her English. “My mother’s English is perfectly clear, perfectly natural. Its my mothers tongue. Her language, as I hear it, is vivid, direct, full of observation and imagery”. Said Amy (Pg 163, paragraph 7) Tan was her moms translator at a very young age. She also combines problem and solution when she is describing how she had to talk for her mother. Her belief is that people will not take you seriously if you do not speak correct English, and to prove this, she shows how her mother encountered that kind of attitude often. Tan designates how she had to call the stockbroker because her mother was concerned about not getting a check, and how the hospital would not look for a lost CAT scan until Tan was called to mediate. Even though the mother speaks English, Tan still needed to act as an interpreter. This caused Tan to be ashamed of her mother throughout her youth, but as she grew, she realized that the language she shares with her mother is her “home language “that she even uses when speaking with her husband.
Even though Tan loves and understands her mom’s English, it did affect her in various ways. The fact that her mother spoke English the way she did made it very difficult for Tan to predict what the test was asking, as with the questions where she could not find a correct answer. In her knowledge with language at home, maybe she had heard her mother say something a certain way, even though, technically, it was not grammatically correct. Her insights of things, the rules of language, were different because of the language used at her home. Tan also mentioned that English tests are more challenging than Mathematics as it does not contain only one or two exact answers, but it contains “a judgment call, a matter of opinion and personal experience.” (page 165) For instance, that English tests, constructed with fill-in-the-blank sentence completion, such as “Even though Tom was _____. Mary thought he was_____.” Because of the grammatical structure “even though,” the correct answers for those sentences are limited to “some sort of semantic opposites.” (page 165)
In conclusion, Tan used her pain towards her moms English as a stepping tool to her achievements. Although she faced challenging situations and dealt with many critics she knew she was successful and she enjoyed the English language. She did not let that affect her passion to becoming a writer.