Is it possible to do this essay?
Is it possible to do this essay?
ASH Mother Tongue AMY TAN Born inOakland, California, in1952, Amy Tan isaChinese Ameri- can novelist, memoirist, and essayist best known for her 1985 nov- el The Joy Luck Club. After the death of her father and brother from brain tumors in1966, Tan and her mother moved to Switzer- land, where she attended high school. She received aBA and an MAin English and linguistics from San Jose State University in San Jose, California. After completing her studies, Tan worked as alanguage development consultant and freelance writer for corporations, before publishing The Joy Luck Club, which ex- plores the complex dynamic between Chinese women and their Chinese American daughters. In her essay “Mother Tongue,” Tan examines how her own mother, anative speaker of Chinese, has affected herrelationship with the English language. ——600-— MOTHER TONGUE 601 Iam not ascholar of English or literature. 1cannot give you much more than personal opinions on the English language andits variations in this country or others. Iam awriter. And by that definition, Iam someone who has always loved language. Iam fascinated by language in daily life. Ispend agreat deal of my time thinking about the power of language—the way itcan evoke an emotion, a visual image, acomplex idea, or asimple truth. Language. is the tool of my trade. And Iuse them all—all the Englishes Igrew up with. Recently, Iwas made keenly aware of the different Englishes Ido use. Iwas giving atalk to alarge group ofpeople, the same talk Ihad already given to half adozen other groups. The talk was about my writing, my life, and my book, The Joy Luck Club, and itwas going along well enough, until Iremembered one major difference that made the whole talk sound wrong. My mother was in the room. And itwas perhaps the first time she had heard me give alengthy speech, using the kind of English Ihave never used with her. Iwas saying things like, “The inter- section of memory and imagination” and “There is an aspect of myfiction that relates to thus-and-thus”—a speech filled with carefully wrought grammatical phrases, burdened, itsuddenly seemed tome, with nominalized forms, past perfect tenses, con- ditional phrases, forms ofstandard English that Ihad learned in school and through books, the forms of English Idid not use at home with my mother. Just last week, as Iwas walking down the street with her, I again found myself conscious of the English Iwas using, the English Ido use with her. We were talking about the price of new and used furniture and Iheard myself saying this: “Not waste money that way.” My husband was with us as well, and he didn’t notice any switch in my English. And then Irealized why. It’s because over the twenty years we’ve been together I’ve often 602 AMY TAN used that same kind of English with him, and sometimes he even uses itwith me. Ithas become our language ofintimacy, a different sort of English that relates to family talk, the language Igrew up with. So that you’ll have some idea of what this family talk sounds like, Pll quote what my mother said during aconversation that I videotaped and then transcribed. During this conversation, she was talking about apolitical gangster in Shanghai who had the same last name as her family’s, Du, and how in his early years the gangster wanted to be adopted byher family, who were rich by comparison. Later, the gangster became more powerful, far richer than my mother’s family, and one day showed up at my mother’s wedding to pay his respects. Here’s what she said in part: “Du Yusong having business like fruit stand. Like off-the- street kind. He is Du like Du Zong—but not Tsung-ming Island people. The local people call putong. The river east side, he belong to that side local people. That man want to ask Du Zong father take him in like become own family. Du Zong father wasn’t look down on him, but didnt take seriously, until that man big like become amafia. Now important person, very hard to inviting him. Chinese way, came only to show respect, dont stay for dinner. Respect for making big celebration, he shows up. Mean gives lots of respect. Chinese custom. Chinese social life that way. Iftoo important wont have to stay too long. He come to my wedding. |didn’t see, Iheard it. Igone to boy’ side, they have YMCA dinner. Chinese age Iwas nineteen.” You should know that my mother’s expressive command of English belies how much she actually understands. She reads the Forbes report, listens to Wall Street Week, converses daily with her stockbroker, reads all of Shirley MacLaine’s books with ease—all kinds of things Ican’t begin to understand. Yet some MOTHER TONGUE 603 of my friends tell me they understand fifty percent of what my mother says. Some say they understand eighty to ninety percent. Some say they understand none of it, as ifshe were speaking pure Chinese. But to me, my mother’s English is perfectly clear, perfectly natural. l’s my mother tongue. Her language, as Ihear it, isvivid, direct, full of observation and imagery. That was the language that helped shape the way Isaw things, expressed things, made sense of the world. Lately, I’ve been giving more thought to the kind of English my mother speaks. Like others, 1have described itto people as “broken” or “fractured” English. But Iwince when say that. Ithas always bothered me that Ican think of no way to de- scribe itother than “broken,” as ifitwere damaged and needed to be fixed, as ifitlacked acertain wholeness and soundness. I’ve heard other terms used, “limited English,” for example. But they seem just as bad, as ifeverything is limited, including peo- ple’s perceptions of the limited-English speaker. 1know this for afact, because when Iwas growing up, my mothers “limited” English limited my perception of her. Iwas ashamed of her English. Ibelieved that her English reflected the quality of what she had to say. That is, because she expressed them imperfectly, her thoughts were imperfect. And Ihad plenty of empirical evidence to support me: the fact that people in department stores, atbanks, andin restaurants did not take her seriously, did not give her good service, pretended not to understand her, or even acted as ifthey did not hear her. My mother has long realized the limitations of her English as well. When Iwas fifteen, she used to have me call people on the phone to pretend Iwas she. In this guise, Iwas forced to ask for information or even to complain andyell atpeople who had been rude to her. One time it was acall to her stockbroker in New York. She had cashed out her small portfolio, and itjust 604 AMY TAN so happened we were going to go to New York the next week, our first trip outside California. Ihad to get on the phone and say in an adolescent voice that was not very convincing, “This isMrs. Tan.” My mother was standing in the back whispering loudly, “Why he don’t send mecheck, already two weeks late. So mad he lie to me, losing me money.” And then Isaid in perfect English on the phone, “Yes, I’m getting rather concerned. You had agreed to send the check two weeks ago, but ithasn’t arrived.” Then she began to talk more loudly. “What he want, Icome to New York tell him front of his boss, you cheating me?” And Iwas trying to calm her down, make her be quiet, while telling the stockbroker, “I can’t tolerate any more excuses. IfIdon’t receive the check immediately, Iam going to have to speak to your manager when I’m in New York next week.” And sure enough, the following week there we were in front of this aston- ished stockbroker, and Iwas sitting there red-faced and quiet, and my mother, the real Mrs. Tan, was shouting at his boss in her impeccable broken English. We used asimilar routine more recently, fora situation that was far less humorous. My mother had gone to the hospital for an appointment to find out about aCAT scan she had had a month earlier. She said she had spoken very good English, her best English, no mistakes. Still, she said, the hospital staff did not apologize when they informed her they had lost the CAT scan and she had come for nothing. She said they did not seem to have any sympathy when shetold them she was anxious to know the exact diagnosis, since both her husband and her son had both died ofbrain tumors. She said they would not give her any more information until the next time and she would have to make another appointment for that. So she said she would MOTHER TONGUE 605 not leave until the doctor called her daughter. She wouldn’t budge. And when the doctor finally called her daughter, me, who spoke in perfect English—lo and behold—we had assur- ances the CAT scan would be found, promises that aconference call on Monday would be held, and apologies for any suffering my mother had gone through fora most regrettable mistake. Ithink my mother’s English almost had an effect on limiting my possibilities in life as well. Sociologists and linguists prob- ably will tell you that aperson’s developing language skills are more influenced bypeers that by family. But Ido think that the language spoken in the family, especially in immigrant fami- lies which are more insular, plays alarge role in shaping the language of the child. And Ibelieve that itaffected my results on achievement tests, IQ tests, and the SAT. While my English skills were never judged as poor, compared with math, English could not be considered my strong suit. In grade school Idid moderately well, getting perhaps Bs, sometimes B-pluses, in English and scoring perhaps in the sixtieth or seventieth per- centile on achievement tests. But those scores were not good enough to override the opinion that my true abilities lay in math and science, because in those areas Iachieved A’s and scored in the ninetieth percentile or higher. This was understandable. Math isprecise; there isonly one correct answer. Whereas, for me atleast, the answers on English tests were always ajudgment call, amatter of opinion and personal experience. Those tests were constructed around items like fill-in-the-blank sentence completion, such as, “Even though Tom was ______ Mary thought he was _____.” And the correct answer always seemed to be the most bland combi- nations, for example, “Even though Tom was shy, Mary thought he was charming:” with the grammatical structure “even though” limiting the correct answer to some sort of semantic 606 AMY TAN opposites, so you wouldn’t get answers like, “Even though Tom was foolish, Mary thought he was ridiculous.” Well, according to my mother, there were very few limitations as to what Tom could have been and what Mary might have thought of him. So Inever did well ontests like that. The same was true with word analogies, pairs of words for which you were supposed to find some logical, semantic relationship, for instance, “Sunset is to nightfall as is to” And here you would be presented with alist of four possible pairs, one of which showed the same kind of relationship: red isto stoplight, bus isto arrival, chills istofever, yawn is to boring: Well, Icould never think that way. Iknew what the tests were asking, but 1could not block out of my mind the images already created by the first pair, sunset is to nightfall—and 1would see aburst of colors against adarkening sky, the moon rising, the lowering of acurtain ofstars. And all the other pairs of words—red, bus, stoplight, boring—just threw up amass of confusing images, making itimpossible for me to see that saying “A sunset precedes nightfall” was as logical as saying “A chill precedes afever.” The only way Iwould have gotten that answer right was to imagine an associative situa- tion, such as my being disobedient and staying out past sunset, catching achill atnight, which turned into feverish pneumonia as punishment—which indeed did happen to me. Ihave been thinking about all this lately, about my moth- ers English, about achievement tests. Because lately I’ve been asked, asa writer, why there are not more Asian-Americans represented in American literature. Why are there few Asian- Americans enrolled in creative writing programs? Why do so many Chinese students go into engineering! Well, these are broad sociological questions Ican’t begin to answer. But Ihave noticed insurveys—in fact, just last week—that Asian-American MOTHER TONGUE 607 students, as a whole, do significantly better on math achieve- ment tests than in English tests. And this makes me think that there are other Asian-American students whose English spoken in the home might also be described as “broken” or “limited.” And perhaps they also have teachers who are steering them away from writing and into math and science, which iswhat happened to me. Fortunately, 1happen to be rebellious and enjoy the challenge of disproving assumptions made about me. Ibecame an English major my first year in college, after being enrolled as pre-med. Istarted writing nonfiction as afreelancer the week after Iwas told by my boss at the time that writing was my worst skill and Ishould hone mytalents toward account management. But itwasn’t until 1985 that Ibegan to write fiction. Atfirst Iwrote what Ithought to be wittily crafted sentences, sentences that would finally prove Ihad mastery over the English lan- guage. Here’s an example from thefirst draft of astory that later made its way into The Joy Luck Club, but without this line: “That was my mental quandary in its nascent state.” A terrible line, which Ican barely pronounce. Fortunately, for reasons Iwon’t get into today, Ilater decided Ishould envision areader for the stories Iwould write. And the reader Idecided on was my mother, because these were stories about mothers. So with this reader in mind—and in fact she did read my early drafts—I began to write stories using all the Englishes 1grew up with: the English Ispoke to my mother, which for lack of abetter term might be described as “simple”; the English she used with me, which for lack of abet- ter term might be described as “broken”; my translation ofher Chinese, which could certainly be described as “watered down’: and what Iimagined to be hertranslation of her Chinese ifshe 20 608 AMY TAN could speak in perfect English, her internal language, and for that Isought to preserve the essence, but neither an English nor aChinese structure. Iwanted to capture what language ability tests can never reveal: her intent, her passion, her imagery, the rhythms of her speech and the nature of her thoughts. Apart from what any critic had to say about my writing, Iknew Ihad succeeded where itcounted when my mother finished reading my book and gave meher verdict: “So easy to read.” NAVIGATING THE WATERS: Reading Closely 1.What isAmy Tan’s primary identity according to what she says inparagraphs 1-3? Cite the textto support your response. 2. Describe how others (those who do not know herintimately) see Tan’s mother versus how Tan describes her? Include details from the text to add substance to your description. 3. How did Tan’s teachers identify her when she was in high school? On what were these descriptions and perceptions based according to paragraphs 15-16? 4. Explain why Tan calls herself arebel and howthis identity led to her becoming awriter. Cite the textto support and illustrate your explanations. EXPLORING THE DEPTHS: Rhetorical Strategies and Structures 1.Explain the meaning of Tan’s title and howit relates to her own identity as both aChinese American, adaughter, and a writer. Cite the text as needed to clarify and support your response. MOTHER TONGUE 609 .Tan uses people’s inclination to assume as away of exploring the subject of identity. Find examples of people—including Tan herself-treating her mother disrespectfully. What assumptions are people making about Tan’s mother in these situations and why? Cite specific examples from the text to support and illustrate your observations. .What argument is Tan making here about language andits connection to our identity? What strategies does she use to make this argument? What motivates her to make such an argument? SHARING THE DISCOVERIES: Discussion and Writing .At one point, Tan writes about being embarrassed about her mother. Discuss how and why parents’ identities and personalities are often asource of embarrassment or tension when people are young. Illustrate your observations with examples from Tan’s essay, your own experience, or others you know. Explore the idea, discussed her by Tan, of different “Englishes” and other forms of more intimate language we use with family, friends, coworkers, teachers, and loved ones. What is the nature of these different languages and how do they affect our behavior oridentity? Discuss the way stereotypes or bias affect how we see our- selves and others. Include inyour discussion examples and observations from your own experience or Tan’s text. CONTINUING THE JOURNEY: Media Extension Watch Amy Tan discuss language on “NEA Big Reads: Meet Amy Tan” on YouTube.
Is it possible to do this essay?
Jamileth Chavez Professor Nathan Fetherolf ENGLISH 21002 February 23, 2022 Tell me which essay you will use in comparative assignment? The essay I am going to use is “Mother Tongue by Amy Tan” is about the variations in the English language the author uses in her life. She describes her English when giving a speech to another people, English she uses when speaking to her mother, and English she uses in her writing. She tells of difficulties faced by both her mother and she from these many differences. Amy’s goal in this article is to show that a person does not have to speak proper English to been as smart or intelligent. Amy explains the many variations of English that she had been exposed to and still uses. She points out even though her mother uses the broken version of English, Amy still understands her mother. “She reads the Forbes report, listens to Wall Street Week, converses daily with her stockbroker, reads all of Shirley MacLaine’s book with ease- all kind of things I can’t begin to understand”. (Tan, p:602). This evidence supports the claim that lack of perfect English does not equal a lack of intellect. They key point shows that even though the author used simple English to speak to her mother, yet her mother was still able to read English. This proves that her mother was no incompetent at all with understanding the English language. Specific evidence that supports my claim that Amy’s mother did have a good understanding of English was when she effortlessly reads “the Forbes report”. Mrs. Tan might not have been able to communicate English in a well-spoken manner, but she was able to read it. I find this topic interesting because you shouldn’t judge someone if you don’t know them or someone’s intelligence because of their English. Mrs. Tan had a rough time speaking English, yet an easy time reading English. This supports Amy’s goal of showing us that her mother was intelligent even with her speaking. Reference Amy Tan (1990). “Mother Tongue. (Tan, p:602) https://blogs.harvard.edu/guorui/2008/02/06/mother-tongue-by-amy-tan/.




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