Mother Tongue by Amy Tan - Essay Example

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Amy Tan in her novel, ‘Mother Tongue’ asserts that English has many variations and she has used ‘all the Englishes’ that she has grown up with. The myriad ways the English language has been used by different people, especially immigrant population has been ingenious because it helps them to adjust within their new environment…
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Mother Tongue by Amy Tan
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Download file to see previous pages The word, ‘Englishes’ may sound very odd because as a language, it is distinct in its grammar, connotations, meaning, phrases etc. But with increasing immigrant population, the non English speaking population has evolved new variants within its grammar and phrases so that they can communicate with more ease. Indeed, the acclimatization process of immigrant population is intrinsically linked to the different ways English has been redefined and redesigned by them in order to integrate with mainstream population. Being of Chinese origin, the author was able to master English language while gaining her educational qualifications, her parents and peer group had to use the language in their own unique way to communicate. The formal and informal version of English language as used by author not only reinforces the point of her essay but it has also been major motivation for her writings. The informal version has various variants of English language that are broadly designed to suit the understanding and adjustment level of immigrants. Indeed, the various ‘Englishes’ have been strong elements of overcoming the language barrier in foreign land and inculcates a sense of belonging. At the same time, as author says, it ‘relates to family talk’. Answer 2 When the author first started writing fiction, language was deemed to be the important factor. The mastery over the language was therefore mainly sought by using sophisticated words with impeccable grammar and phrases. She believed that ‘wittily crafted sentences’ were essential part of showcasing her command of the English language and therefore her first draft of a story had the sentence, ‘That was my mental quandary in its nascent state’. She now finds it to be totally wrong because it does not connect with her audience who cannot relate with her story. The words used within the text not only need to be easy to understand but also must be easy to pronounce! Author confirms that when she says that ‘terrible line, which I could barely pronounce’. I agree with author that such sentences might lose the very meaning the book is supposed to communicate across its readers. Author’s mother would also have not appreciated the use of such complicated words which are difficult to understand. Such words and language need to be used when addressing certain highly educated readers for whom formal English literature is important aspect of writing. Amy broadly caters to the readers who come from different culture, color, nationality. Hence, her language is such which is easy to understand as well as to pronounce. This helps the readers to connect with the characters of the story and develop special relation. Answer 3 Tan’s mother tongue is informal English that is not constrained by the precept and concept of predefined grammar, phrases, vocabulary etc. Mother tongue broadly refers to language that a person learns from the birth. In the case of immigrant families, especially, in second and later generations of family, the primary mother tongue is replaced by new informal variant of English language that immigrant population uses within their daily life. Tan’s mother’s English is ‘broken English’ because she does not follow the predefined guidelines of English as a language, used with precise grammar, phrases and semantics. The phrase implies myriad meanings within itself. While it defines a variant of English that is without grammar, it also sends mixed perception of the speaker who could be limited not only physically but may also be lacking intellectual proficiency. This is not true because lack of proficiency in language is not linked to the physical or mental abilities of individuals. Tan has ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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