Mother Tongue Summary

Amy Tam is laying a foundation of respecting people command of English language irrespective of how they speak as long as there is a form of communication. Being an Asian writer, she had to try and shape her English, especially when speaking and giving talks to people. According to Tam (1990), she believes in the power of language and how it evokes different emotions, images, and truth (46). The main agenda of the article is giving insights into Tam mother’s English language. Tam is in agreement that the kind of English the mother speaks has greatly influenced the person whom she is today. She vividly gives a comparison of the English she spoke in two different conferences of which she was giving the same speech. Tam was keen on knowing the English she spoke especially in the second talk, which her mother attended. The mother tongue article highlights the importance of using a language that is appropriate according to the kind of people one is addressing. Tam refers to the English language of her mother as mother tongue. The fact is supported by various people referring the mother language as Chinese English. She tries to defend the English of her mother by saying, my mother has a command in English because she believes she fully understands it (Tan, 1990, p. 47). Tam has used several instances in the article to recognize her mother efforts in realizing the weaknesses of her English. Her mother used Tam to request payments or make statements to people who spoke to her on phone rudely. According to Tan, she used the commanding language like, “I am Mrs. Tan”, and to convince the other party that it was her mother on phone (Tam, 1990, p. 48).


Tan, A. (1990). Mother Tongue. The Threepenny Review, (43), 7–8.

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