All posts by Chris Magee

Amy Tan-Mother Tongue

Amy Tan’s article “Mother Tongue” really spoke to me in several different ways. First of all, I thoroughly enjoyed reading about her relationship with her mother, and she really did everything in her power to connect with her mom and help her get her messages across. She never seemed to understand why people thought of her mom’s English as “broken” until she grew up, and then she realized that it wasn’t “broken.” Her English was just misunderstood. To her, this form of English was crystal clear and easy for her to understand, but to everyone else it was only 50 to 60% understandable.
I never had to deal with anyone misunderstanding my mom’s English except with certain words. My mother was born and raised in New York and says several words different than southern people due to her northern dialect. Amy’s mom may not have been as clear as mine, but I can kind of relate to Amy’s struggles. I have also had to talk on the phone for my mom and get her message across to the other person. Especially when she calls the phone company or her bank. For some reason, they can never fully understand her northern dialect, and I always end up having to talk for her. I used to just blame it on the phone connection, but I realized if the connection was bad they wouldn’t be able to understand me either.
The article also showed me how different forms of English can evolve from several different dialects. Amy’s mom originally spoke Chinese, so her English was mixed with her native tongue and wasn’t always clear. This just shows that not all people speak the same and everyone has their own “mother tongue” that they speak with.