Amy Tan’s “Mother Tongue” Essay Evaluation

People come from different countries, share their knowledge and experiences, and rely on their cultural beliefs and history. Each story has its specific background and impact, and the contribution to written communication mainly depends on the chosen value and validity. In the 1990s, Amy Tan created her essay “Mother Tongue” to demonstrate the challenges of being raised in a bilingual family and the necessity to recognize dialects as a vital part of a person’s identity. Relying on the association with her mother, the author explains that it is normal to speak English differently and even make mistakes because language skills should not determine human capabilities. Although Tan’s “Mother Tongue” lacks credible sources and large samples to support writing validity, its value of linguistic and personal identity, written and oral communication, and the development of interpersonal relationships cannot be ignored.

The value of “Mother Tongue” may be properly evaluated through the author’s choice of tone and intended audience. Tan does not use complex words and sentences to demonstrate her maturity in English writing but aims to enlighten the challenges non-native speakers face when joining a foreign community. She convinces the reader that it is wrong to consider people who use “broken” or “fractured” English as something “damaged or needed to be fixed, as if it lacks a certain wholeness or soundness” (Tan 2). The article addresses all English-speaking individuals and the need to respect a human being as a whole but not only his or her particular skills and qualities.

Focusing on the article’s validity, someone may accept Tan’s writing as another attempt to demonstrate the inequalities and prejudiced judgments that exist in American society. The author neither uses peer-reviewed evidence nor invites independent participants who could prove or disprove her opinion. She describes her own life and the relationships in which she and her mother are involved. Tan mentions several examples like communication with a stockbroker or a hospital visit to show how her “mother’s ‘limited’ English” limited the “perception of her” (2). Despite a variety of subjective opinions in the article, the reader gets a clear idea of how linguistic literacy affects people and their attitudes toward each other.

“Mother Tongue” proves the importance of oral and written communication in human relationships by applying such critical rhetorical elements as ethos, pathos, and logos. Emotional appeal, as the example of pathos, delivers the message about unfair and biased treatment to people who are not able to use English correctly and meet social expectations. The lack of sympathy to immigrants in hospitals and no compassion from brokers illustrate distorted American pathos. The use of ethos makes the person’s background obvious in interpersonal communication. Therefore, Tan clearly identifies herself as “a writer” who “has always loved language” but not “a scholar of English and literature” (1). Finally, to convince the audience about the existing diversity, the author reminds them about the complexity of English, comparing it to “precise” Math, with “only one correct answer” (Tan 3). All these examples help create a strong and educative essay about the peculiarities of communication in a bilingual community.

In conclusion, this evaluation does not strictly define Tan’s essay as a strong or weak discussion of the importance of the mother tongue. Instead of boasting about the quality of English, people must learn how to respect each other, regardless of their backgrounds. “Mother Tongue” contains a lesson that not many people can understand. Language literacy never represents the level of intelligence, and bilingual communities should remove unnecessary judgments and highlight the worth of humanity in their relationships.

Work Cited

Tan, Amy. “Mother Tongue.” 2021. Web.

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