Amy Tan’s Mother Tongue

Category: Mother, Slang
Last Updated: 27 Mar 2020
Pages: 4 Views: 158

Based on Amy Tan’s “Mother Tongue” it is evident that language has an affect on our lives. Language defines the type of person I am generally and it has had an affect on my choices as well as my lifestyle. Depending on my friends, family, and others I talk to my choice on language tends to vary. My decisions in life, sometimes, are influenced by the language I use and my surroundings. Language has become my way of seeing life in a different perspective.

In Amy Tan’s “Mother Tongue” she discusses the way the language that she was taught affected her life in so many ways. I can agree and relate to Tan’s article since I as well came from a bilingual home. I respected my parents so I always honored the language they spoke, most of the time I believe I spoke their language out of habit, it was our language as a family. In Tan’s article she quotes “So easy to read” (Tan 391) when she spoke about her mother’s verdict on her book. I had a similar story occur in my family since my mother had a tough time reading and understand english while I was growing up. I honored the way she defended herself even with her “broken” english and taught me that language is just a way of seeing the world depending on your language you can determine the way you want to go.

I grew up in a bilingual family in which my mother spoke only pish and my father spoke both english and pish. At home I used to only talk pish to make my mother feel comfortable in our conversations. Many of my decisions growing up were influenced by my pish backgrounds to some its just a language but when you speak a different language you see the world differently. Amy Tan states “It has become our language of intimacy” (Tan 385), in which I can relate to. Speaking pish at home became our language, the language we could all connect to and understand each other, it was our language. My mother specifically taught me to be intrepid in my choice of language.

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Since pish was my language at home that didn’t mean I spoke it around friends. I grew up with a mix of friends some hipic some african americans. It is important to understand that what your friends speak affects the way you speak as well. Some of my friends used “slang”. Even though I wasn’t raised speaking in “slang” over the years I sort of picked up on what my friends spoke.

Due to that, some of my decisions around my friends such as the food, books, movies I chose to buy were affected by the language we spoke around each other. I didn’t quite notice the change of language I had around my family then around my friends until I used to mistaken & speak pish around my friends and “slang” around my parents and either one would correct me. Due to the way I was used to talking to my friends affected making new friends and the type of friends I looked forward to making.

Job opportunities growing up were sort of limited due to the fact I was never taught how to properly talk to professionals. In some job interviews, depending on who was interviewing me, I would either talk in some sort of “slang” or pglish. It obviously didn’t help me much and I never had a stable job. Once I got older and was associating myself with other people who spoke what is called “proper english” I actually matured and saw that there were so many opportunities for those who spoke the language everyone found “acceptable” or “correct”. The more time I spent with those friends the more I learned about the world and actually my choice of language improved as well as my vocabulary.

In Jeannette Walls book “The Glass Castle” language played a large part in their family. They were a dysfunctional family being raised wherever they were able to rest their heads and find food to eat. Rex Walls, the father of 3 Walls children, spoke english but in a way it was unique he used words that only his family understood. Even though others viewed them as weird, dysfunctional, unfit people they understood each other, they spoke the same language.

Rex would use quotes such as "Being homeless is an adventure", anyone would see that as something somewhat negative no one wants to be homeless, but his family understood where he was coming from. They were homeless and would sometimes go hungry but they always had strange adventures such as giving stars as christmas gifts, selling rocks, exploding science experiments and running away in their car never knowing where they might end up.

Depending on my choice of language I do believe others view me a certain way. But my language defines me whether it might be “correct” or “broken” to others. Language has played a big role on many of my decisions in life. It has become my way of seeing life and the world a certain way. Language affects my choices as well as my lifestyle. Doesn’t quite matter the language you speak, it is evident that it plays a large part in everyone’s lives.

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Amy Tan’s Mother Tongue. (2017, Mar 17). Retrieved from

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