Mother Tongue and When I was PR – Anthony Clement

“Mother Tongue” by Amy Tan

“But to me, my mother’s English is perfectly clear, perfectly natural. It’s my mother tongue. Her language, as I hear it, is vivid, direct, full of observation and imagery. That was the language that helped shape the way I saw things, expressed things, made sense of the world.”

This quote demonstrates the authors connection to her mothers English. While some can hardly understand and some cannot understand at all, she is able to understand it perfectly. As her mother tongue its not only the way her mother spoke English but it is what she was raised on, she learned her mothers way of speaking English the way one would learn English or Spanish when young. The language also impacted the way she saw the world and expressed herself.

Belies: (of an appearance) fail to give a true notion or impression of (something); disguise or contradict. “You should know that my mother’s expressive command of English belies how much she actually understands.”

Wrought: archaic past and past participle of work. “I was saying things like, “The intersection of memory upon imagination” and “There is an aspect of my fiction that relates to thus-and-thus’–a speech filled with carefully wrought grammatical phrases, burdened, it suddenly seemed to me, with nominalized forms, past perfect tenses, conditional phrases, all the forms of standard English that I had learned in school and through books, the forms of English I did not use at home with my mother.”

Insular: relating to or from an island. “But I do think that the language spoken in the family, especially in immigrant families which are more insular, plays a large role in shaping the language of the child.”

“When I was Puerto Rican” by Esmerelda Santiago

“If your class was in the low double digits (8–10 for instance), you were smart, but not a pinhead. Once you got into the teens, your intelligence was in question, especially as the numbers rose to the high teens. And then there were the twenties. I was in 8–23, where the dumbest most undesirable people were placed. My class was, in some ways, the equivalent of seventh grade, perhaps even sixth or fifth.”

This quote displays division between students. They were aware of how they had been separated and based off of Santiagos description a sort of hierarchy was established based off their intellegence. Those in the last class were deemed as undesirable. You could assume that the knowledge of this also hurt the children self esteem due to the fact that though Santiago heavily advocated that she was meant to be in eighth grade she admitted that this class was on par with a seventh or sixth grade class.

Composition: a work of music, literature, or art. “She taught English composition as if everyone cared about it, which I found appealing.”

Droopy: lacking strength or spirit. “At the front office we were met by Mr. Grant, a droopy gentleman with thick glasses and a kind smile who spoke no Spanish.”

Prepositional: formed with or functioning as a preposition. “Esmeralda,” she called in a musical voice, “would you please come up and mark the prepositional phrase?”

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