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The Power of Language

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The Power Of Language

Language is defined as anything which can be written, spoken shown or otherwise communicated between people. People voice their ideas, emotions, and thoughts across to the world through language. Multitudes of people across the country speak a variety of languages. Language is a system of terms that are used in a particular manner and carry a particular meaning. Communication or language is a process every child learns from birth, and we continue to use it until our death. A proficient use of language allows us to clearly communicate an exact idea from one person to another person or group of people. Language plays a crucial part in enabling the speaker to communicate to a specific social group. The structure of our language gives us the ability for abstract thinking. Because of this, we are able to expand our knowledge and evolve as a society. Through the use of language, each member of a group is able to construct and reflect their identity. For example, if we speak English well and fluently, you are quite respected. In other words, if you speak "Broken" English, they may think of us as less intelligent than people who speak Standard English. It has not been approved that language reveals complete personality, it is inaccurate to judge a person by his/her language mastery. The two authors Amy Tan and James Baldwin in their articles "Mother Tongue" and ""If Black English Isn't a Language, Then Tell Me, What is?" respectively discusses the power in language and how it is defined as a tool for communication, but is used to shape people's perception and the individual to participate, to establish his/her identity in the designated community.

In Amy Tan "Mother Tongue," Amy Tan describes her relationship with her mother, who speaks "broken" English. Her mother's limited command of English and the way this is perceived by outsiders and the impact it had on her growing up. Tan grew up in two different worlds, using different "Englishes." The first world, which consists of her close family, she speaks what we may call "broken" or "limited" English. The second world, which is her business and professional world, she speaks and writes perfect standard and academic English. Having to "shuttle" between these two communities with very different languages has had many different positive and negative effects on her. In the beginning of her life, Amy was always ashamed and embarrassed because of her mother and her broken English. It would often sound weird and not be understood by people in every day affairs. Amy describes the pain and shame she felt observing the negative reaction her mother received from others. For example "I have 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 ".She compares the English she uses every day, to the English she uses with family and close friends. She uses the English she has learned as a tool to express the stilted English that makes up her cultural memories and the words of her mother. For example, "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, and full of observation and imagery. That was the language that helped shape the way I saw things, expressed things, made sense of the world". Therefore, some of Tan's memories include memories of her mother's English, which is both comforting and cultural to her. She knows her mother's education and ideas are not "fractured", but also recognize that her limited way of speaking might make her appear "limited" or less than perfect to other listeners. Amy ending up changing her style of writing because of her mother, who changed Amy's perception of language. Amy started writing in all different forms of English from simple, complex, and broken because of her mother, she wanted to keep her thoughts pure. In the end she published a book and said that "i knew i had succeeded where it counted when my mother finished reading my book and gave me her verdict": "So easy to read." When her mother said she had liked the book that was much more important to her than any other critic opinion.

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