Language Defines Your Individual Identity


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The United States has embraced the most diverse population in the world today. It is diverse in terms of its ethnic makeup and religious practices for immigrants. Immigrants from different nations congregate in the United States in seeking a better life for family or simply to fulfill a long-life dream. Therefore, we discover the loss of social or family support, the need to afford a new unknown lifestyle, and many times harsh alleged environment, or language/communication problems.

In “Mother Tongue” Tan writes about the awareness and discrimination about broken English. This story is focused on the relationship between the mother and the daughter living in the United States. This is because she grew up in a home with her Chinese mother who spoke broken English, difficult for many people to understand. Tan came to realize this because when Tan was with her mother, she spoke English differently, more simply, like her mother. In Tan’s essay, when Amy Tan was fifteen, she used to call people on the phone to pretended to be her mother. She was forced to ask for information or even to complain and yell at people who had been rude to her. One time it was about calling her stockbroker in New York therefore, Amy Tan’s mother had cashed out her small portfolio and they were going to go to New York, their very first trip outside California. She had to get on the phone and speak in a young voice that was not very convincing, ‘This is Mrs. Tan.’ And her mother was standing in the back whispering loudly, “why he doesn’t send me to check, already two weeks late. So mad he lies to me, losing me money”. Amy Tan quoted her mother’s speech to demonstrate her mother’s “broken English”. It was a slight story but the thing is worth looking at her mother’s grammatical mistakes. The quoted parts were filled with grammatical mistakes and the text was quite confusing. It was an embarrassing moment for Tan. Therefore, her background affected her life, her education, and brought her shame. Tan was held between two worlds. When she is with her mother, she speaks in simple English, but out in the world, she shifts to an English that is more formal and acceptable but ultimately, she learns to embrace her background.

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Two kinds” is a story by Amy Tan, is the story of a mother and daughter who are disconnected. A Chinese girl whose life is influenced by her mother. Her mother came to America after losing everything in China. Jing-Mei’s mother immigrated to America from China who has the “American dream”. Who believes, “you could be anything you wanted to be in America”. Jing Mei’s mother really means that her daughter could be anything her mother decided she could be but Jing-Mei just wants to live her own life. As an immigrant, Jing Mei’s mother wants her daughter to have the chances she did not have. Her mother had high expectations of her daughter and did not care how it could affect her and made Jing-Mei stubborn. Jing Mei’s mother wants her to be a prodigy like her friend Waverly, a chess prodigy but did not choose the right prodigy for Jing. So, Jing Mei’s mother thought she could be a Chinese Shirley Temple. They would watch Shirley’s old movies on TV as though they were training films. Afterward, Jing-Mei’s mother finally decides she should be a piano prodigy, after seeing a nine-year-old girl playing the piano on television. After the years that shadowed, she failed her mother so many times, each time she was calming her own will for, unlike her mother. She did not believe she could be anything she wanted to be. She expressed her anger by going against her mother’s expectations of ‘who I am, it indirect that such tendency comes from her childhood experiences. Jing-Mei was frustrated because she could not satisfy her mother. Therefore, she hurts her mother’s feelings with a hurtful response, “I wish I’d never been born! I wish I were dead! Like them”, which upraises the conflict between the two to a difficult level and it set her apart from her mother. After her mother dies, Jing returns to the piano and remembers the song, and realizes that she never really understood her mother.

According to Cultural identity crafting across different cultures article, it shows how these Korean students deal with potential cultural conflicts as they move between Korea and the U.S. and how their parents cope with these changes to help their children to learn English and get an education abroad. They consider U.S. education a beneficial tool used to gain cultural capital. To gain their cultural capital, they come to the U.S. as elementary and secondary students. These families see this action as a way to gain educational and cultural benefits.

Immigration and cultural identity is one well-known complicated stress. After analyzing the consequences, we could see how an individual or a family who migrate, experience multiple stresses that can impact their mental health, the loss of cultural norms, religious customs, and family support systems, affording new languages, adjustment to a new culture, and changes in identity.

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