The Power of Language

1059 words 5 pages
The Power of Language
Language plays an important role in communication by bringing people together and enriching their relationships. Language can also alienate those who do not speak it properly, or at all, from those who do. The essays, Mother Tongue, by Amy Tan, best known for her book, The Joy Luck Club, and Se Habla Espanol, by Tanya Barrientos, delve into the many powers that language holds. These essays reflect how by not speaking a language in proper form and by not speaking a language at all, affects the lives of the subjects of the stories.
People who can speak a certain language, but only in ‘broken’ form, are generally looked down upon by native language speakers. In her writing, Mother Tongue, Amy Tan writes about her
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Tan describes the way her mother speaks as “vivid, direct, full of observation and imagery” (566). She realized that her mother’s way of speaking contributed to the person she is today.
Those who are native English speakers and were born in one of the English speaking countries, tend to think they are of a better class than those who don’t speak English or don’t speak it well. The argument is that if people want to immigrate to one of the English speaking countries, they should learn the language. If they can’t learn the language, then they should go back to where they are from. The language issue has been raised on many fronts, for example in 2010, the Republican Candidate for Alabama Governor released an advertisement in which he stated, “We speak English. If you want to live here, learn it” (Condon). This sentiment is shared by many citizens of English speaking countries, not just the United States.
Language holds so much power. Language is such an important part of everyday life. People should embrace and celebrate everyone’s diversity, no matter how well they speak, or don’t speak, English. The things that make everyone different, as people, are the things that make our lives rich. Sometimes people forget that just because someone speaks another language or doesn’t speak a certain language well, that doesn’t mean they are stupid or of a lesser class. Perhaps they have learned all they need to know, or want to know, of a certain language others


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