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July 23, 2014

Homework Help: english / compare & contrast essay

Posted by Amy on Friday, January 27, 2012 at 11:46pm.

Hey guys!! I was hoping someone could critique/view/edit me essay for me? :) It's a compare and contrast essay on Mother Tongue by Amy Tan, and How to Tame a Wild Tongue by Gloria Anzaldúa. I'm a hs junior but i'm also taking college english~critical writing. Thanks!

You can never truly lose your identity

We all have some form of language barriers, no matter what background we come from. “Mother Tongue” by Amy Tan, and “How to Tame a Wild Tongue” by Gloria Anzaldúa both share similar themes as they both deal with how different forms of the same language are perceived in society. Being oppressed by what society declares the right way of speech and having to face many prejudices’, the two authors share their personal experiences of how they’ve dealt with it. Both authors go in depth about their ethnic backgrounds, incorporating their language to better immerse us in their story. Amy Tan is of Asian descent and talks about how her heritage contributed to how she has come to see the world, and how she speaks English. Gloria Anzaldúa identifies herself as a Mexican-American Chicana and in her essay, she tells about how her ancestry is viewed and how it has been viewed since the beginning of colonial colonization into America. Anzaldúa and Tan, facing many barriers because of their difficulties with language, learned that in order to overcome these challenges, they needed to incorporate their families, since the changes they would be making would not only affect themselves, but also their families.
When living in a family with parents that speak “broken English”, it is common to find hardships and challenges that are faced on a daily basis. “Pa' hallar buen trabajo tienes que saber hablar el inglés bien. Qué vale toda tu educación si todavía hablas inglés con un 'accent” (par. 4) Anzaldúa’s mother would say. “To get a good job you need to speak English well. What good does your education do if you speak English with an accent”? Her mother was mortified that she spoke English like a Mexican. Anzaldúa’s mother only wanted the best for Gloria, and in her opinion, being able to speak perfect English, without an accent, was the best thing for Gloria. Amy on the other hand, although facing a similar situation, hers was quite a bit different. From “Mother Tongue” Tan provides an example of her mother’s “broken English”: “Why he don’t send me check, already two weeks late. So mad he lie to me, losing me money.” (par. 10) Tan uses personal stories of her relationship with her mother, and how her mother’s “limited and broken” English has made an impact on her life. Amy tries to show that even though her mothers English may be described as “broken”, it can be understood and does not determine her intelligence. This is evident through her quote, “I wanted to capture what language ability tests can never reveal: her intent, her passion, her imagery, the rhythms of her speech, and the nature of her thoughts.”(Par. 21-22) Nowadays, I truly believe that people judge a book by its cover. Although someone’s English may not be perfect, that doesn’t mean they aren’t “smart” or intelligent. People should get to know one another before they decide to stereotype them.
Going to school where personal image is a big part of a student’s life can be very nerve racking. American values are often forced upon students and a certain way of life is expected of them. The struggle of fitting in and accepting the cultural background is a major point in both essays.
In Anzaldúa essay, she reflects on a situation that many people face in a contact zone of many different cultures. She explains how she felt unaccepted by all groups, Americans, Mexicans, and other Spanish speakers. Anzaldúa was accused by various Latinos of a being a Pocho, a cultural traitor. She was also rejected by many Latinos and did not mix well with Americans either. Along with her peers, her teacher gave her a hard time as well. “If you want to be American, speak ‘American’. If you don’t like it, go back to Mexico where you belong.” (Anzaldúa par. 3) Not only did Anzaldúa get ridiculed about her Spanish, but also her English as well! Facing a similar situation, Amy Tan had some troubles in her language as well. At a very young age, she was expected to speak with very important people such as stockbrokers and doctors due to her mother’s inability to speak perfect English. Due to these experiences from her childhood, such as becoming her mother’s translator, made Tan realize the importance of being able to articulate her thoughts well in order to have smoother experiences. Both women come from very different backgrounds, face the same type of problem, but are able to realize that despite what others think or say, that being uncomfortable with themselves is something that needs to change.
No matter what anyone else thinks or says, our opinion of ourselves should be the most important. In the essay “How to Tame a Wild Tongue”, Anzaldúa states that being Mexican is equally as important to her as being American. Her essay proves that you don’t need to be American and forget your native tongue because it’s always within you and others should learn to see and respect that. Anzaldúa definitely gave me a better understanding of how her culture, language, and most importantly, being Mexican is important to her. Tan also shares with us how being of Asian descent has affected her. She explains to us that the “different English’s” she speaks impacted her in a negative way when she was younger. For example, when she scored lower on her standardized test she felt that it was because of her mother’s way of speaking. But now that she has matured she sees that these English’s benefit her in a positive way because she can now relate to a broader audience. All variations of dialects should be accepted in society without being neglected, shunned, or misinterpreted.
After reading both pieces of work “Mother Tongue” and “How to Tame a Wild Tongue”, it is pretty clear that they share similarities on speaking out about languages, but at the same time, they hold their own on the way they express their idea. Additionally both authors go on to show how they were initially embarrassed of their own mother tongue but later on realized that there can be more than one right way of speaking a language. In a way, both narratives can be considered “coming of age” stories, as both authors come to understand that their native language plays a great role in their self-identity; there is nothing to be ashamed about your own mother tongue. Going through obstacles and challenges is what makes us who we are with our own unique identities. No matter how “Americanized” you are, your culture will always be in you. You can never truly lose your identity.

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