Analysis of Rhetorical Strategies in Mother Tongue by Amy Tan

download print

About this sample

About this sample


Words: 612 |

Page: 1|

4 min read

Published: Sep 1, 2020

Words: 612|Page: 1|4 min read

Published: Sep 1, 2020

Not all people whose English as a second language speak it in the same way. This argument is made by Amy Tan throughout in the story “Mother Tongue”. In the essay, she successfully expresses all three of rhetorical styles such as logos, ethos, and pathos. Tan also balances each part of the rhetorical triangle very effective and thoughtful essay.

'Why Violent Video Games Shouldn't Be Banned'?

I believe that Amy’s goal in this article was to present to the public that just because an individual does not have or speak “perfect” English, it does not mean that the person is not intellectual. Being that her mother used a more simplified form of English, she was exposed to this and other forms of the English language, so it was easy for her to go back and forth and understand them. Amy Tan wants to present her position and belief in a rational and effective way. Her purpose of “Mother Tongue” is to explain how the various languages that she has used with her mother were important and influential in her life.

First, the author uses logos and reasoning in her essay. An example is when she explains how her mom would have her call to ask for information, and people in, banks, restaurants, and department stores would not take her mother seriously. The essay might well be aimed at people who got to take care of their parents as if they are exchanging roles with parents. At a young age, Amy Tan had to handle situations. She was the middle person between her mom and another people who had no ideas what her mom says. Because Tan’s mother expressed words in an imperfect, Amy Tan stated that her thoughts were also imperfect either. As a person who lives in dual language, Tan argued that a person’s limitation on language does not reflect their perspective on society or events of the world.

Secondly, the author uses ethos to present the idea that social expectations should not negatively influence one’s perception. She thinks the standardized tests are not able to accurately determine a person’s intelligence. It is unfair because there are many different type of intelligence people and people have different ways of thinking. As Tan was growing up, her speech and what she was taught from her family affected her life. In the story, she describes the relationship between her and mother, who speaks “broken” English. Furthermore, family environment affected her results at school. Many other Asians in the U.S are also having suffered the similar problem, and have teachers ‘who are steering them away from writing and into math and science’. Overall, Amy Tan wants to say that just because someone cannot speak English perfectly, it does not mean in anyways else would make them less intelligent than other people who are born in this country, who understand and speak English fluently. It is like a quote ‘We are like a snowflake, all different in our own beautiful way.’ We all have similarities but our differences help define us. However, the author’s mother was judged by her language. She also saw her mother was disrespected because of her incorrect grammar and wrong use of words. Through the ‘Mother Tongue’, the author wants to send a powerful message of how we ought to view people by their beautiful side and not by their shortcomings. There is a quote “We are like a snowflake, all different in our own beautiful way. Everyone has a message to say, it may be different from yours, and it might be grammatically incorrect but it does not make the message wrong.

Finally, Tan uses pathos to appeal to readers’ emotions. An example is when she notifies to readers about her mother’s tumor. The hospital did not apologize when they said they had lost the CT scan. They also did not seem to have any sympathy when she was anxious to know the exact diagnosis. Because of the neglect and little care the hospital had for Tan’s mom, and if she hadn’t had anyone to call and speak for her, the sickness would potentially progress and no one would know about it.

Get a custom paper now from our expert writers.

In conclusion, through the different rhetorical strategies, Amy Tan successfully explains the language barrier in the U.S has limited success and prosperity levels for non-English speakers. Proper communication skills are vital for thoughts, emotions, and ideas otherwise one might be perceived wrongfully.

Works Cited

  1. Tan, A. (1990). Mother tongue. In A. Tan (Ed.), The opposite of fate: Memories of a writing life (pp. 20-29). Penguin Books.
  2. Block, D. (2012). Mother tongue education and sustainable development: The West African experience. Routledge.
  3. Canagarajah, S. (2005). Mother tongue as a local knowledge. Routledge.
  4. Cummins, J. (2000). Language, power, and pedagogy: Bilingual children in the crossfire. Multilingual Matters.
  5. Kachru, B. B. (1986). The alchemy of English: The spread, functions, and models of non-native Englishes. University of Illinois Press.
  6. Martin-Jones, M., & Saxena, M. (2009). Multilingualism, second language learning, and gender. Multilingual Matters.
  7. Pennycook, A. (2007). Global Englishes and transcultural flows. Routledge.
  8. Phillipson, R. (1992). Linguistic imperialism. Oxford University Press.
  9. Romaine, S. (1995). Bilingualism. Wiley-Blackwell.
  10. Skutnabb-Kangas, T., & Cummins, J. (Eds.). (1988). Minority education: From shame to struggle. Multilingual Matters.
Image of Dr. Charlotte Jacobson
This essay was reviewed by
Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

Cite this Essay

Analysis of Rhetorical Strategies in Mother Tongue by Amy Tan. (2022, May 30). GradesFixer. Retrieved December 4, 2023, from
“Analysis of Rhetorical Strategies in Mother Tongue by Amy Tan.” GradesFixer, 30 May 2022,
Analysis of Rhetorical Strategies in Mother Tongue by Amy Tan. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 4 Dec. 2023].
Analysis of Rhetorical Strategies in Mother Tongue by Amy Tan [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2022 May 30 [cited 2023 Dec 4]. Available from:
Keep in mind: This sample was shared by another student.
  • 450+ experts on 30 subjects ready to help
  • Custom essay delivered in as few as 3 hours
Write my essay

Still can’t find what you need?

Browse our vast selection of original essay samples, each expertly formatted and styled


Where do you want us to send this sample?

    By clicking “Continue”, you agree to our terms of service and privacy policy.


    Be careful. This essay is not unique

    This essay was donated by a student and is likely to have been used and submitted before

    Download this Sample

    Free samples may contain mistakes and not unique parts


    Sorry, we could not paraphrase this essay. Our professional writers can rewrite it and get you a unique paper.



    Please check your inbox.

    We can write you a custom essay that will follow your exact instructions and meet the deadlines. Let's fix your grades together!


    Get Your
    Personalized Essay in 3 Hours or Less!

    We can help you get a better grade and deliver your task on time!
    • Instructions Followed To The Letter
    • Deadlines Met At Every Stage
    • Unique And Plagiarism Free
    Order your paper now