Amy Tan and James Baldwin

Theory of Writing Assignment Forums Discussions Amy Tan and James Baldwin

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    Anthony Liang

    Language is a topic that has many implications to our lives. As mentioned in the two pieces; they way we talk can give away or hide who we are. The way we talk can cause people to mistreat us as they believe if we can’t speak proper English as we can see in “Mother Tongue” when the doctors placed less effort into their response to Amy Tan mother’s lost CAT scan when her mom told them to find it vs Amy telling them to find it. I found the “Mother Tongue” piece relatable as my parents don’t speak English as their main language and even though I wasn’t the one speaking for them 99% of the time, I see where Amy Tan is coming from. Both pieces show that language has power over how we’re treated, if you have a more formal, less staggered English- you’ll be treated better compared to someone with staggered English.

    The James Baldwin piece was interesting as it questioned the creation of the label of the language Blacks used, calling it Black English. The connection towards racism and the lack of resources towards Blacks in fields such as education leads to longevity of Black English.

    Amy Ho

    I felt a strong connection with the “Mother Tongue” reading by Amy Tan. I think it is because of how relatable the concept she brought up. I never really took out the time to analyze the conversation I have with my family or the language they use. After reading this piece, it made me reflect on the so called “broken” English that a lot of Asian parents use with their children.
    I do not that “broken” English is the best term to describe people who do not speak English well. The challenge that people face to just speak English is hard enough, but being criticized, ignored, or disrespected just because they don’t speak the language well, makes me feel extremely frustrated. I often see this happen to my family members and myself. I feel that our languages, whether it is English or any others should be respected. Language is a form of communicate, not a way for people to judge how much education we received or who we are as a person.

    Syed Shataj Hosain

    The reading, ” Mother Tongue” by Amy Tan is about how Tan was ashamed of the way her mother expressed herself in English. She noticed how salespeople in shops or financial institution tellers do not demeaned her. It regarded as even though society used to tell Tan that her mother’s limited speech used to be a huge and embarrassing problem. Most of the immigrant parents do not speak english fruently and that is why childrens get ashamed but they do not realize that they are the one who tought them to speak. I habve noticed so many people being criticized for not speaking english well. I feel like doesn’t matter what language we speak we should respect all of them.

    Escarlen Ibadango

    In the article, “If Black English Isn’t a Language ,Then Tell Me, What Is?” by James Baldwin describes this idea that “Black English” that people struggled to communicate in the same area. As they do discuss how they brought up the whole idea of the Frenchman speaking French as well as other people from nearby areas spoke French but with small changes. They change small terms to make it their own and be defined differently but still be understood to some extent between each other. Similarly, black people had to learn and add their own style to English in order to understand each other to some extent. Therefore, Baldwin discusses this idea that English could be broken down into different types in order to understand each other but put a barrier to nonnatives to English.
    In relation to the article “Mother Tongue” by Amy Tan describes how the author herself and her mother struggled when they are immigrants and had to communicate with other people. Being an immigrant is hard, especially when you are learning a new language and struggle how to associate things that you don’t properly put together sentences which create “Broken English”. I could personally relate to this as I still struggle to put sentences together or not knowing terms which could put some sort of barrier or limitations.

    Ahmed Iftiak

    Language, the most important aspect of our life but for some people, it is the most complicated aspect of there life that we don’t realize. reading the article “Mother Tongue” by Amy Tan made realize as if I am reading my own thought that I had 3 years ago. I came to this country more than 4 years ago and almost forget how hard and stressful the first year of school was. First few months I wasn’t able to speak or understand English but as the year pass by I able to understand everything but did not involve any kind of outside conversation because I was scared that they might make fun of my English. the article expresses the same idea. I am still not sure that my English is perfect not. back then I was the only person who speaks English and I was responsible to take everyone to doctor or any kind of official needs that required speaking English but I wasn’t fluent either. Reading about Mrs. Tan’s struggle got me thinking did they done the same thing to me, not giving priority or ignoring me. if they did something like I would able to tall because everything was new to me. The part where Amy Tan says that her being better at math and science than English does not apply to not because that I did wall on English and poor on math. In fact, it was opposite  I never did well in English or any literature class not even that when I was in Bangladesh I would get the same score in English and Bangla, so doing poor in English classes does not justify by my inability of English language. I never enjoy English or Bangla classes I as I enjoy math and science.  The second article was confusing to me or I was fixating with the first article and did not understand the other article.

    Mohammed Mia

    In James Baldwin’s “If Black English Isn’t a Language, Then Tell Me, What Is?”, there is a lot packed in there which i agree and disagree with. I never looked at language from this view but I see how language is something beyond speech. It is a way of life that carries on the reputation of one’s life, one’s race, one’s social, economic, and/or political power in a society. Language is taught in schools, but accepting others’ languages and interpreting their backgrounds is something that isn’t taught. I 100% agree with that. Because in school, we were always taught the “proper way” in speaking English. However, there are so many dialects and until we understand and accept these different dialects, we will not understand each other with the different background which we originate from. However, I do think that it is a stretch to say If Black English Isn’t a Language, Then Tell Me, What Is? Yes, Blacks may feel attacked at times in society, but it is not all the attention focused on just them when it comes to language because there are the immigrant Hispanics, Indians, Russians, and many more with their version of English.


    Language is what sets humans apart from every other animal species on earth. The reading,” Mother Tongue” by Amy Tan is about how Tan was ashamed of the way her mother expressed herself in English. I came to this country four years ago and I didn’t know how to speak English. First few months it was very stressful for me and I always thought people would make fun of me. Most immigrants don’t know how to speak English and for that, they face a lot of problems. So, I think we shouldn’t make them feel this way and help them to get better. Everyone should respect their own mother language.

    Arijit Saha

    I felt a very close connection after reading these readings by Amy Tan and James Baldwin. English is not my first language, my mother language is something else and since I am an immigrant I was not good in speaking english as I am now, I struggled before when it came to speaking and getting along with the people here. In the reading it is showing how the character was ashamed of the way her mother expressed herself in English and I could relate to that from the mothers perspective, we should not be ashamed of the way we express ourselves and respect our mother language. everyone gets better overtime while speaking the language they speak daily. I see many people specially the younger crowd making fun of a certain way someone speaks but that should not be the way.


    I know Amy Tan from “The Joy Luck Club” and reading another piece of her writing has opened up my eyes once again. It’s interesting that we have stigmas associated with the way we speak even if it’s just a different technique of communicating the same idea. English was my third language and when I first learned it, there were so many rules to follow. Even now, I learn something new about the language despite being a fluent speaker. I see my parents struggle to understand the secret gramma rules or punctuations that come with learning it as well. I feel that as long as it conveys the message, how it’s delivered shouldn’t give someone the opportunity to shame others.

    Nathaly Castillo

    James Baldwin’s example of different dialects was very interesting because it showed how even though people speak the same “language” the dialect can be very different where they can not understand each other. Its also interesting how languages can create dialects and  spring them up from many different situations even if the cause for them self-imposed like in Amy Tans piece where because she was a writer she used a more advanced style of the English vocabulary and felt ashamed when she realized that she talked differently when she was talking to her husband and her mother. Different dialects can either bring people together because they can learn the different dialects coming from the same language but it can also separate them. It demonstrates how powerful language is, it can create differences but also can create binds that people can use to become closer to one another.

    Edwin Moody

    These articles address language, which is an integral part of who we are as people, and which place, or culture we represent. As a backwoods guy from upstate New York, I grew up almost exclusively around white, conservative country people. I then moved to Texas for a while before moving here to the city. My country roots are definitely reflected in the way I talk, which reflects who I am. The same is absolutely true for people of different origins, including naturalized immigrants. Although we are taught a “proper way” to speak grammatically in school, I think we should appreciate the different dialects and cultures that are represented in this country.



    Amy Tan and Jamed Baldwin both talk about language and the ways that it is used. They both get to the point that even though in a group of people they maybe speak the same language, the words they actually use can depict who they are. If someone does not know english the proper way and does not speak it like others, they may get a different treatment than what others are receiving. Basically the point that Amy Tan is making is that the way you speak the language of the country you live in determined how your life will go. With James Baldwin, he talked about the “black english” and he says this is the language that colored people use. He states that because of the opportunities that they are giving, the way they speak is placed un danger.

    Tatiana Lema

    While reading the first article written by Amy Tan I couldn’t help but relate to what had been said towards how I speak towards a certain groups of people. Typically when I am home I talk to my parents in my native language and often talk to them in English but this type of English that I use, the tone, is completely different that the one I use in class. A language in general a often used to describe someone or a group, following on to James Baldwins reading, He describes how white peoples language would not be differentiable if not for black English as mentioned. This type of distinction is used often to separate a group. They also do this to those who speak Broke. English. I can’t deny but to say that I was ashamed of my parents broken English as well but over time I came to realize that regardless of it language is language and that this barrier created in separating groups based on their type of language is still very much problematics. It’s difficult enough to learn a new language especially to master it.

    salwa rahman

    Both of the articles emphasize the value of language in our lives. They both state that language is part of who we are, how we live, and how we treat others. Language affects our futures, and the way we use language can either make or break us in the future. James Baldwin spoke about how although many people share the same language, they use different dialects which are difficult to understand if you only understand one. I enjoyed Amy Tan’s “Mother Tongue” because I felt as though I connected to what she wrote about how we speak differently to certain people without even being aware of it. This article made me want to actually listen to the conversations that I have at home as it shed light on the fact that we speak in different tones and dialects.

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