Mother Tongue by Amy Tan

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The article by Amy Tan Mother Tongue, the author tries emphasize that with the fact that everyone speaks A different language based on the community, race and place of origin, categorization takes place unconsciously with the language itself. Amy Tan tries to derive the main idea that there exist vast limitations related to improper English such as writing discrepancies. She uses her own idea, life and setting to describe this challenge.

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The author describes the improper English that her Chinese mother uses, and on the other hand Amy Tan is good and perfect in the language. The author can speak and write fluent oral and academic English but realizes there is a problem when her mother shows up for one of her English lesson lectures and does not communicate the proper English which leads to problems getting her thoughts out or even to be understood easily. She describes a scenario where her mothers request was ignored because she communicated in improper English but when she showed up and used the proper English in place of her mother, the requests her mother had made were granted.

This essay tries to capture the real life scenarios that occur when non-English native speakers communicate with the native, how they are treated in relation to discrimination and how nationalism, identity and language barriers come in. this is because the dominant English culture seeks to impose its language and cultural values on both non-natives and non-English speaking minorities in an effort of acculturating them and molding them into acceptable natives of the dominant culture. To derive this statement, I do argue that despite a liberal political rhetoric, the substratum of the American national life is characterized by a clash of cultures as the dominant culture seeks to extinguish or neuter other competing or alternative cultures.

Identity and language argument

In the essay mother Tongue by Amy Tan, the author tries to describe that when one uses a certain language, they do so with and individualistic and social connection to their history. Most importantly history of each individual is defined partly by the background ranging from social category, culture, gender differentiation, religion and race class. For instance, and individual is born either male or female, bred into a certain distinct class of income, blended into a certain social class and mostly defined by heritage culture and language they speak. Based on this diversity, when and individual moves or is incorporated into a newer society that have different languages and culture a certain aspect of segregation and discrimination comes into play by the dominant culture and race in the new environment.

The dominant culture tries to impose a certain level of change whereby, they try and change your original setting as an individual to incorporate you into the society. My argument for this linguistic discrimination is that the dominant white race during seemed to impose its roots and cultural values to the to the non-native English speakers and other minority groups in America that led to the clash of the races by the non-native speaking minorities who defied being assumed and separated by fighting back and becoming more aggressive to the position thus the argument by the author that they too had a life to fight for, believes to follow and not merely being pushed to believe in a new culture they did not exist in.

The peer reviewed article below has made an attempt to define the argument of language discrimination and culture clash as depicted in the American societies between the dominant white race and the non-English speaking minority.

Chen, Victoria. "Chinese American women, language, and moving subjectivity." Women and Language 13.1 (1995): 3.

The article explores how language impacts the concept of identity, and how the adoption of the dominant language changes the perception of identity. The author explains that culture defines the identity of a person. For this reason, minority groups tend to strive to at least acculturate into the dominant culture and the most common way they do this is by adopting words from the dominant culture and using it as their own, thus coursing their language evolution towards conformity with the dominant culture. The authors intent in writing the paper is to show that language determines the culture that one identifies with, and ultimately molds the identity of an individual. I do agree with the premise that language and culture determine how one identifies oneself.

Another peer reviewed article that tries to depict and support Amy Tans argument of culture clash and discrimination based on language preferences in the United States is described below;

Gounari, Panayota. "How to tame a wild tongue: Language rights in the United States." Human Architecture 4 (2006): 71.

The author explains that language defines the concept of a nation and that this is the reason a nation calls for a common language. The author explains that immigrants in the United States of America are considered as non-nationals because they do not speak American English. Thus, for these immigrants to be accepted into the American society, they repress their native language and adopt English as their language. The authors intent in writing the paper is to show that linguistic identity determines cultural identity and in extension, national identity. I do agree with the premise that linguistic and cultural identity determines the depth of national identity.

I do propose to explore further how language identity shapes cultural identity, and thus, show through a logical argument that language identity determines how much a person perceives oneself as a member of a particular nation. Thus, the proposal aims to show the link between language identity and national identity.


From the above perspective, identity of an individual is always in production as result of agentive processes rather than a standardized perspective. When in a linguistic involvement, one is laden with specific constellations of originality and historical social identities. These identities influence our linguistic actions but should not rather be the basis that determine the identity of oneself. Thus participation in activities with other of different identities does not assume that the language barrier should be the inclination to possible stance of segregation and or using language in unexpected ways towards unexpected goals that push certain individuals to drop their historical and social identities and join the dominant communicative group for any purpose.

In conclusion, I suggest that America is blinded by narrowness of thinking and language discrimination judged by ethnicity and social and historical identity and its only by expanding perspectives that everyone can become fulfilled and honored as an American citizen.

Works Cited

Chen, Victoria. "Chinese American women, language, and moving subjectivity." Women and Language 13.1 (1995): 3.

Gounari, Panayota. "How to tame a wild tongue: Language rights in the United States." Human Architecture 4 (2006): 71.

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