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In today’s world, language plays a fundamental role in portraying the ideas of specific cultures over time. Some of the earliest forms have been around since the Common Era, Old English being one of the most developed languages. In the essay ‘Mother Tongue’ by Amy Tan, readers are engaged in her unique writing style as Tan expresses her childhood growing up with the different forms of the English language. Being an Asian-American woman raised in an immigrant family, Tan acknowledged that there are variations of English and believed that there is no right way of speaking this language. To express her thoughts on the main purpose of this essay, Tan uses different appeals such as pathos and logos with the tone being a prominent feature, as well as the variety to help her readers to get a better insight into her argument.

With the use of storytelling of personal childhood experiences, Tan defends all the times her mother’s ‘fractured’ English has played major roles in shaping her unfair experiences in society. Grabbing the reader’s attention with the sympathetic tone she felt for her mother, Tan uses the appeal of pathos to emphasize her guilt because of the shame she felt growing up with English as a second language. From translating daily conversations for her mother to interacting with society, Amy’s mother encountered several instances of mistreatment as “…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” (Tan, 341). Using these instances to support her argument, readers can feel the sense of guilt Amy felt for her mother’s ‘fractured’ English as she got older. The informal tone in Tan’s writing proves her argument that the type of English one speaks does not mirror the quality of a person’s words.

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In addition to the appeal of pathos and informal tone throughout Tan’s writing, readers perceived Mrs. Tan as an educated individual. Her ideas could be viewed as equal to those with higher educational standing in English, resulting in logos evidence. Mrs. Tan’s ‘fractured’ English doesn’t come in the way of her daily activities as she “reads the Forbes report, listens to Wall Street Week, converses daily with her stockbroker, reads all of Shirley MacLaine’s books…” (Tan, 341). Effectively making use of logos, Tan shows that all four of these activities require some sort of knowledge and intelligence, and individuals that use ‘fractured’ English are still able to do the same compared to those who don’t. Throughout the essay, Tan presents personal anecdotes to engage the audience while supporting her argument. Using her personal stories in this informal tone, readers can compare and contrast Amy and Mrs. Tan’s story to their own.

Overall, this piece of literature can leave an emotional impact on readers. With the use of tone and rhetorical styles, Tan expresses her emotions about prejudice and cultural racism being an ongoing issue in society. Moreover, Tan engages readers in her story by successfully attracting readers with her conversational language and informal tone, proving her main argument. She uses methods of sharing past events from her childhood, as well as different emotions, such as frustration towards society perceiving her family a certain way. This essay appeals to individuals that can relate to having or growing up with ‘broken’ English, as she emphasizes that there is no right way of speaking English, in fact, there are variations for different kinds of relationships.

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