Beliefs of Amy Tan and Her New Discovery of the Language of Intimacy: Critical Analysis

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There are many bilingual and multicultural people in the world today.

For many, the alternatives of that language they use, and the way they use it, correspond to what social or cultural community they belong to. Amy Tan may be a Chinese yank writer she portrays this well in her short essay 'Mother Tongue.' Tan grew up in two vastly different worlds, using different 'Englishes.' The first world, which consists of her close family friends, and loved ones, how she would speak to her family most Americans would call it broken. The second world the business side or academic in nature.

Tan speaks and writes perfect standard and proper English. Having to jump from different languages holds its own challenges that may not seem apparent to most people because they have never experienced it, but because it comes naturally but for Tan, she understood the difference after holding a lecture on the “ Joy Luck Club” her mother had attended the lecture. She realized that her 'mother tongue' has become their language of intimacy, a different sort of English that relates to just their own families way of speaking. Her 'mother tongue' is the English she uses while she is in her first world, her private world, that is just compiled of her close family friends and loved ones which is a completely different cultural community. As Tan was growing up, the speech she used in her family environment affected her in how the school system could not correlate between how her way of broken English and that of other students proper English thus resulting doing poorly on various tests at school. Many other Asian Americans had this similar problem and had teachers that were taking the easy route and not learning each student they decide to just steer them into the social norm of most asians americans who tend to excel at math and science-related classes instead of as each student as an individual, which is what happened to Tan during her time in school. This is as a result that mathematics has only 1 correct answer, whereas English was a matter of opinion and personal experience. As a result of the teachers pushing towards something just because they don’t fully understand. It drove Tan to disprove other assumptions and became an English major. She wrote in an exceedingly thanks to prove her 'mastery' over a people language. An example she provides is that this line, ''That was my mental quandary in its nascent state.” This is the type of language she uses in her professional life.

This essay i believe is very well aimed towards people who have to take care of their parents specifically Asian American families as if they are having to exchanging rolls with their parents because of the society we live in here in America. A lot of the time Amy had to handle things, at a very young age, where she was the middle person between her mother and another person who did not understand anything her mother was saying. Amy Tan says, “When I was fifteen, she used to have me call people on the phone to pretend I was she. In this color, I was forced to ask for information or even to complain and yell at people who had been rude to her.

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One time it absolutely was a decision to her factor in New York”. That stock broker Tan mentioned was playing dumb to Tan’s mother because of how she talked. It took Tan pretending she was her mother and speak properly to the stock broker for them to be taken serious. Tan wasn't changing what was being asked of the stockbroker just the way it sounded and results played out differently with Tan than with her mother. Reversing rolls with the parent will have a significant impact on a child’s life. I don’t feel Amy required to be introduced to one thing like that at such an impressionable age. Most people feel as parents, Amy’s mother should have taken a stand and practiced her English to better herself and family. Me personally in the day and age we live in as a society we have to be able to learn and evolve with all manners of cultures that come into this country not force someone to join the flock and sound and act like everyone else. During that time, there were not a lot of options for her mother, and she did the best she could, but maybe she could have improved on this situation.

Amy Tan's purpose in the essay is to inform and express her beliefs and new discovery of the language of intimacy. She wants to provide this new innovation of language and closeness it creates within the family atmosphere. She wants to acknowledge that people who speak broken English are often misrepresented by their tongue as being a dense or dumb person. This is a very common misconception by people of American society who only see in black and white and nothing else; don’t let the language fool you. Providing the subjective purpose of read, it is clear that Amy feels very strong and passionate with the connection to her mother.


The goal of the essay by Amy Tan was to try to determine the role of language and its power in society. There are millions of people in today's society that speaks in a variety of different dialects to different people in our lives. This essay is a good example of linguistic discrimination of other languages by Americans. We may not speak the same way but that does not affect the value of the words spoken. Amy Tan proves that language spoken in a family circle is a key to understanding each other, it can help people realize their personality, culture, roots and it can form the way people think. The Author discusses her life within the USA together with her mother, having to upset such injustices that associate with their ethnic background. Amy Tan clearly convinces the reader to pass over the language barriers that are restraining the non-English speaking people living happily and in welfare.

In brief, the essay Mother Tongue is a literary account given by Amy Tan the author about her life and how she learned various aspects of the English language through the ordeals from her childhood growing up. Some of these issues include the differences between her “academic” English ( the type of speech she used during lectures or teachings) and her “intimate” English(the English she spoke at home with family and friends) also known to most Americans who don't understand and just announce it as broken, the language and literature challenges brought by her mother tongue in speaking good English, and how we should generally strive to use simple English that is easy to understand by both native and non-native English speakers. In expressing these important facts, ideas, notions, and opinions, Amy Tan personalizes her talk by using her lecture students, her mother, and her husband as examples of her mother tongue influence on her English. These personal accounts of her life and the people close to her greatly help in passing the intended message to the readers since many people, especially audiences that use English as a second language, can easily relate to her personal experiences.

In summary, the focus of my paper is cultural tolerance and diversity in language and the language barriers that is shown throughout the American culture towards other races and their native language. Thereby you must understand how in America the importance to have the ability to speak well, to know grammar and spelling of the American language well. Being intelligent and educated means that you can feel free in any company or convince anybody to support your point of view. Of course, grammar and spelling are necessary in everyday life not less than at work or professional environment.

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Beliefs of Amy Tan and Her New Discovery of the Language of Intimacy: Critical Analysis. (2022, August 12). Edubirdie. Retrieved April 13, 2024, from
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