Amy Tan ”Mother’s Tongue”

Paragraph 4, on page 3 reads, “I started writing nonfiction as a freelancer the week after I was told by my former boss that writing was my worst skill and I should hone my talents toward account management.” Anyone reading this can see this is an act of discrimination it may even fall under verbal harassment. Even if she was a horrible writer this is not the way to address her including in a work environment. Telling someone that they are horrible at something and implying that they should work in another field is not a compliment. By law, she had every right to sue him for distress or harassment. 


Mother tongue by Amy Tan


In the essay we can see how Amy Tan and her mother was emotionally and mentally affected by the fact of standard English. When theres no such thing as standard or broken English, people are the one who define a person’s Imperfect English using those terms. Basically with the English we use grammar, punctuation, tense in order to make our words more understable but we can see Amy’s mother would skip that part most of the time will make it harder to understand for people when  Amy made it sound like they purposely don’t try to understand or they ignore which might be not true. Because when they don’t understand what you are speaking they wouldn’t make you talk constantly rather than that they would just ignore the entire phrase.Also we have seen Amy were adapting her mother language as well as she said, ”not waste Money that way” which is fine if she wants to make her mom understand but isn’t actually okay if she’s using it regularly as its against the law of English language. But does it mean her mom need to fix or she need to abandon that language? I would say her mom need to improve her English not fix and Amy can help her  with that also mother tongue are not for abandon;are for respect, that’s the language that made every other language easy.

Amy Tan paralegal Issue

 After reading in Amy Tan One paralegal issue that I found  “ I know this for a fact because when I was growing my mothers limited English limited any perception of her I was ashamed of her English I believed that her English reflected the quality of what she had to say That is because she expressed them in perfectly her thoughts were imperfect and I had plenty of empirical evidence to support me” that quote explains racism with her mother and according to first amendment called racial discrimination.

Amy Tan “Response”

In “Mother Tongue”, by Amy Tan, a legal issue that can be identified is Asian racial profiling among common Asian stereotypes such as Asians only being good at mathematics and nothing else. This issue is identified when Amy’s mother is taken for granted and does not receive her dues and is being cheated out of them. Amy’s mother does not speak English well so her daughter translates for her which upsets her. Knowing that her mother is targeted for her broken English, Amy decides to major in Literature class instead of following the stereotype of being a Math major proving the stereotype ignorant. The discriminate nature of stereotyping immigrants, protected class in America, is not just a legal issue of racial profiling but is unfortunately an American custom due to the country’s dark history. It’s history of racism is still in effect and Amy Tan and her mother are symbols of its current presence.

Amy Tan response

Amy Tan in “Mothers Tongue”, she tells a story of her life and the discrimination in which her mother , and her at times faced. As a result of that it shaped her into the individual that she is today.Throughout the text she talks about the the discrimination that her mom face not as only a person who does not know English but because she is a woman. As a result of that many people pretended that she could be walked all over based off of her not knowing much English.
This is a legal problem being that they took advantage of her based off of her not being fully aware of English. They refused to give up her money, refused to even acknowledge her mother.

Amy Tan response by Theodore

(This is Theodore’s response but he’s having technical difficulties so I’m posting it for him!  ~KC)

In “Mother tongue” by Amy tan, there are a number of legal issues that can be seen. While the social racism towards Amy’s mother because of her language barrier is clearly evident. The issue I find more disturbing is the instance of the hospital losing her mother’s CAT scan. Benign tumors or not, a hospital losing medical information and causing their patient distress can clearly be seen as a gross form of medical malpractice, especially given the hospitals blasé attitude toward losing it. It was only until Amy voiced her mother’s concerns in a “socially accepted” english that the hospital took her mother seriously. I took this issue rather personally because my own father was hospitalized for a year of his life and reading things of this nature upsets me.

Amy Tan Response

One main legal issue I have noticed repeatedly throughout Amy Tan’s essay is discrimination. For example in “Mothe Tongue” states “I was forced to ask information or even to complain and yell at people who had been rude to her.” This shows how her mother has been discriminated against by her limited English. Which is very unfair because no one should be discriminated for any reason. Being different is okay because not everyone is the same. Which also creates diversity among us and this result in new developments into our world. Wheaters in are society or political system.

Amy Tan

I see a multitude of legal problems presented in the text however i would say the most prominent is how the mother is treated. In the text it states “She said they would not give her any more information until the next time and she would have to make another appointment for that. So she said she would not leave until the doctor called her daughter. She wouldn’t budge. And when the doctor finally called her daughter, me, who spoke in perfect English — lo and behold — we had assurances the CAT scan would be found”. This shows that the authors mother was discriminated against due to her race and lack of proper english, and that upon finding out the daughter could properly speak english only then was she treated right. This goes against the law that one shouldn’t be discriminated against due to their race, religion, sex, etc. Thus being unlawful and showing that discrimination can present itself in all types of ways.

Amy Tan response

There could be one or more legal issues spotted here, but the one I’m clinging onto the most is the one about Tan’s mothers broken English. I feel as though Tan is violating her mom’s First Amendment right. In simplest terms, the First Amendment is the freedom to speech, religion, and press. In the article Tan states, “I know this for a fact, because when I was growing up, my mother’s “limited” English limited my perception of her. I was ashamed of her English. I believed that her English reflected the quality of what she had to say That is, because she expressed them imperfectly her thoughts were imperfect.” Why does Tan feel the need to be embarrassed? Surely, because she is Asian, a lot of people would mock her mother, but that shouldn’t be the only outcome. Tan also states, “And I had plenty of empirical evidence to support me: the fact that people in department stores, at banks, and at restaurants did not take her seriously, did not give her good service, pretended not to understand her, or even acted as if they did not hear her.” I wonder what Tan’s evidence is that justifies her not violating her mother’s First Amendment right. The only justification Tan can make for not violating her mom’s right is if her mom said hate speech because hate speech is not righteous. However, this quote may be considered otherwise because Tan states, “My mother has long realized the limitations of her English as well. When I was fifteen, she used to have me call people on the phone to pretend I was she. In this guise, I was forced to ask for information or even to complain and yell at people who had been rude to her.” The keywords I suspected are “complain, yell, and rude.” All these words tie into hate speech. Overall, First Amendment rights shouldn’t be violated and hate speech shouldn’t be above that, matters can be solved in a responsible, timely manner.

Amy’s Responce

One legal issue that identified in “Mothers Tongue”, was when Tan said ” but i have noticed in surveys in fact, just last week that — asian students, as a whole, always do significantly better on math achievement tests in English. And this makes me think that there are other Asian-American students whose English spoken in the home might also be described as “broken” or “limited”. And perhaps they also have teachers who are steering them away from writing and into math and science, which is what happened to me. And the legal issue is discrimination because of the kids being pushed to math and science instead of writing because of their “broken” English.