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    Review of “Mother Tongue” by Amy Tan

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    Amy Tan, the author of Mother Tongue has a very simple, yet important claim. It is that one’s intelligence should not be judged based upon the amount of knowledge or spoken words of the English language. Tan states this claim clearly in the header of the article. She states, ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover…or someone’s intelligence by her English.’ (pg.20). This claim is strongly supported throughout the article. She was able to provide strong evidence by using herself and her experiences as an example; having to grow up learning different types of English and the judgements placed upon her. Through the accomplishments Tan has made, allow for us to see that the pre-conceived notions placed upon her and her mother were incorrect. The article’s main claim of how you shouldn’t judge based upon how you see or hear someone is supported because Tan includes personal experiences, the experiences her mother faced, and proves to be a great author even though she incorporates her native tongue into her writing.

    There are a few key points I found within the article that help support the author’s claim. One key point she makes is that she does not believe her mother’s intelligence is based off how much she understands within the English language. Tan supports this point by talking about all the things her mother can do that involves the English language. This claim is supported when Tan states that her mother ‘reads Forbes report, listens to Wall Street Week, converses daily with her stockbroker’ (pg.21). This evidence shows that even though Tan’s mother knows little of the English language she is still able to understand and accomplish tasks. Tan was able to make a very valid key point. If her mother can accomplish tasks that includes reading and talking using the English language, she must have good intelligence. Being able to understand stocks and have conversations with someone about them shows that she has a good understanding of what is going on.

    The goal of getting this task presented with the evidence provided was met. Tan was able to get one to understand that her mother was able to achieve knowledgeable tasks with being able to speak little English. The second key point Tan makes is that she too, at one point, began to believe the perceptions others had about her mother. Even though she herself has described her mother’s English as ‘broken’ or ‘fractured’ it still bothered her. When describing how Tan feels about her mother’s broken English she says, ‘It has always bothered me that I can think of no way to describe it other than ‘broken,’ as if it were damaged and needed to be fixed, as if it lacked a certain wholeness and soundness. I’ve heard other terms used, ‘limited English,’ for example. But they seem just as bad, as if everything is limited, including people’s perceptions of the limited-English speaker.’ (Tan, 2006, p. 21). This passage shows that Tan understands that her mother’s English may sound broken to others but that doesn’t mean her mother’s perception is limited.

    At one-point Tan began to think of her mother’s English as broken at one point as well. She began to believe the judgements of others. She also knew deep down that her mother had great perception but could not express it through her English the way she had thought in her mind. Tan met her goal in letting her audience know that she understood why they may call some spoken English broken. She did this in a way where she was able to make a connection to those who may judge but also expressed her opinion on those who spoke broken English such as her mother. Another supporting point was that she was able to use the variations of the English language she shared with her mother to connect with her when writing. She also wanted to be able to use her writing to reveal to others what the English language could not

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    Review of “Mother Tongue” by Amy Tan. (2021, Jul 30). Retrieved from

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