The power of language is really great: lots of people like to judge the others by their pronunciation, language mistakes, wrong stresses, or incorrect use of words. People are full of ambitions, pride, and prejudice because of their origins and social status, and language is one of the factors, which determine people to certain classes. Is it really correct that language is considered to be one of the most powerful means to divide people? In the essay, Mother Tongue, Amy Tan speculates upon the possible variety of one and the same language and the problems, which appear while understanding how this division is possible and what the classifications are.
People may come from different countries and choose English or any other language as a native one. However, not all native speakers can accept those aliens and treat them respectively. This very theme is also discussed in many other literature works and movies. One of the movies, which concentrate on the issues of race inequality, ethnicity, and nationality, is In America, a work by the Irish film director, Jim Sheridan. One of the major points of Mother Tongue and In America is the fact that language may say a lot about a person’s identity, however, it does not allow to understand human’s soul and mind.
Amy Tan underlines that she is not a scholar but a writer. She does not afraid to tell that English fascinates her a lot as well as influences her life. She says that “language is the tool of my trade. And I use them all – all the Englishes I grew up with.” (Mother Tongue) The point is that she is not a native speaker; her parents came to California from China. In her home, there are several types of English, which she calls the Englishes: simple, broken, and watered down. It is not easy to communicate with people using different styles of language.
During some time, Tan was even ashamed because of her mother’s language and her limited perception. In fact, time is the best treatment of many troubles and misunderstandings. After Tan grows up, she comprehends how lucky she is, because she gets a wonderful opportunity to feel how it is to be a native speaker and an alien. Such experience helps her create wonderful stories and be useful to many people. Her awareness of several Englishes make her proud of who she is and where she came from.
In America is another source of information about the difficulties American immigrants may face with. When Irish family, the Sullivans, enters America in searching for better life, they cannot even guess how difficult their life may be. “We heard Manhattan before we ever saw it, a thousand strange voices coming from everywhere… We had to go under the water to get to the city. We lost contact with everything; it was like we were on another planet.” (In America) Their admiration of America and desire to live better make them blind for a while.
Loss of close people, inability to feel something, vain and rich people – this is what a real America is all about. Native Americans do not want to accept people of other nations. America is divided into several districts: in the places, where rich people live, poor Americans or immigrants cannot appear. Friendship with Mateo, an African painter, and arrival of the baby are the only things, which help the family to enjoy this life, heal all the wounds, and be ready to cope with any difficulties.
When you are alone, you can hardly cope with language barriers and existed inequality. Mateo learned how to survive and tried to teach the Sullivans. He did not have enough time to explain them everything as he had AIDS; but he was so in love with this family, who communicated with him without any prejudice and pride, and he was happy.
It is not easy for me to comprehend all those troubles, immigrants face day by day. The only language I use is English; however, even for my, English may be of different types. Here are several my Englishes. With my close friends, I use one English that is simple and rather communicative. We have lots of words with different meanings, not comprehensible for other people. Such use of language is fun a bit and makes us differ from other people. With my parents, I use another English and even stresses certain words to underline my respect and love to these people. School English is one more type I also use. Of course, it is easy to divide and associate the language with different people and places. However, my ideas and my thoughts – this is what I am. Neither English nor the change of places makes me different.
Language is one of the human identities. If a person can speak and comprehend the words of other people, he/she is already a human. Is it necessary to divide people according to their nations and races? Maybe, it is high time to forget about boundaries and not to be biased in order to enlarge the level of knowledge and enjoy communication with people from different places.
In America. Dir. Jim Sheridan. Perf. Paddy Considine, Samantha Morton, Sarah Bolger, Emma Bolger, and Djimon Hounsou. Fox Searchlight Pictures.
Tan, Amy. Mother Tongue. 10 April, 2009. http://people.virginia.edu/~pmc4b/spring98/readings/Mother.html